Face of the unemployed

You can’t tell who is unemployed just by looking at someone (at least I don’t believe so). This evening I got on the bus to go to the Greenbelt Metro Station. At one point a female passenger began speaking to the bus driver. I looked up and didn’t recognize this passenger. I returned my attention to my iPhone.

Upon arriving at the Greenbelt Metro Station I took the escalator to the platform. A train arrived. It’s rush hour and I don’t know if the train will depart momentarily or depart in a few minutes. If I want to get off by the elevators at my metro stop, I need to board a car towards the end of the train. I begin the practice of entering a car,walking to the end, then moving to the next car, repeating the sequence until I reached my desired car.

I followed the woman in front of me. Enter a car, walk through and exit. We did this twice. Then we both sat down. She commented about being followed. I recognized her, the same woman from the bus.

She told me she had a job interview today. She then told me she has been unemployed for two years. She is 52 years old, divorced with no children. She does temporary work when it is available and some bookkeeping from home. She told me she has experience but not the degree.

I asked her if she is receiving unemployment insurance. She answers no. The unemployment insurance stopped in September. Sad to learn, though she is chronically unemployed, she has “maxed out” the unemployment benefits.

She tells me she wants to work. That she is constantly looking for employment to no avail. My heart ached for her.

She concerned about paying her bills. She recognizes she is fortunate because she still has a place to live. But she knows, without a job soon, she may be on the street.

She told me she doesn’t own a car. There are job opportunities in places in Virginia, but she said she would need a car to get to those jobs. She trying to find employment that is accessible to public transportation.

Meanwhile, her father, who lives in Austin, has a brain tumor. Some relatives in Austin were concerned that her father wouldn’t survive for long so this woman used some money to fly to Austin.

Earlier this year her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She is taking care of her mother (her siblings assume, since she’s not working, not married and no kids, that, well, she has PLENTY of time to take care of mom).

This woman told me she remains upbeat. She leaves it in God’s hands. She doesn’t want to wallow in a depressed state. She remained me of those news stories a couple of years ago when a breadwinner was laid off work, and became so depressed that he killed his wife, children and himself. I remember at least two or three of those news stories.

I have read and heard news accounts about the chronically unemployed but this is the first time I’ve met such an individual.

I felt bad for this woman. I wish there was something I could do for her.

I also recognized how fortunate I am.

I pray she finds employment soon.

Do you recognize the face of the unemployed?

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