"I Have 11 Cents to My Name"

3.27.20


I was waiting at the Rite Aid bus stop, trying to get back home/Moxie's place on time to watch the latest episode of RuPaul's Drag Race. Next to me were people in face masks, just as aloof as those that I'd first rode the bus with. Once the stop was empty, somebody got off a bus and sat next to me. He, without hesitation, caught my attention with some snapping and a "hey wassup". Though I generally react stiffly to strangers talking to me, he seemed nice, so I hung out with him for a bit.

"Yeah, I'm tryna hold up, fuck this shit" he said. "I just filed for unemployment but the government won't give me additional aid for the hours I'd worked overtime in the past 6-7 months." He pulled out a letter and showed it to me. Apparently, the government only looked for his working-hours between October 2018 to September 2019. Problem is, he started working in November 2019, as he'd suffered a stroke in the year prior. "Because the government isn't looking at my hours worked since November, I get nothing! What in the hell is that!" I felt bad; I couldn't think of a way to respond that'd actually be helpful. "Why would they pick that time frame, is it because of taxes?" I asked. "I don't know, but I've been paying my taxes and I have W-2s for this year! Why should I be giving my governemnt all this money when I get nothing when I need it most? All I've done my whole life is do things right, but look where that's gotten me! This Coronavirus crisis should make the government care for it's people!" "Yeah, though they should care for everyone no matter what. They can't get away with robbing their own people forever." "Word!"

Somebody had their car stopped in a red light right next to us. "Hey! HEY!" He went up to the driver and got a couple free cigs. I couldn't tell if the driver was annoyed, but I guess that doesn't matter. "I can't afford to smoke; I have 11 cents to my name."

He took a couple puffs. "By the way, where you from?" "Puerto Rico" "Oh man, I'm from Jersey and those Puerto Ricans are all over the place! Hahahaaaa." As we kept bantering, I was feeling sad about not having any immediate ways to help this guy. I had no cash on me and I was pressed for time. I also didn't want to be condescending in any way. Middle class problems ahahhahahahgaghaha. The 61D arrived. I quickly said goodbye and "shit gets better!" before rushing to the back door. We never told eachother our names.