notes from the road

Now we’re cooking!

08/31/09

I’m now really feeling at home. I’ve gotten a lot closer with my fellow Hostel workers, feel comfortable about my work now that I’ve dropped to part time and I’ve got an ambition with my Harlem tours. I think now I will tell you about Mike, who I now share cooking with.

Mike is pale, has a small neat pony tail that he keeps hidden under a black beanie/cap, a small eye brow ring and a well manicured slash of goatee. Now imagine a person with all of this who you would be happy to introduce to your grandmother and know that she would find him to be quite agreeable. He comes from an inner London suburb where he grew up in a housing development. As a boy and youth he got in lots of trouble with teachers as he had no will to learn, in trouble with school mates as he was half Indian though never looked it, and the Police later on as he stole things and got up to mischief. When he was around fifteen and had dropped out of school a social worker took him to a factory where he was given some employment options. Initially he would start packing boxes, but in a few years if he impressed the boss, he might be able to drive a forklift. Mike burst into tears. Since then he left his housing development which his friends have never done, went to University which his friends couldn’t see the point of and left the country which his friends have never dreamed of. In Canada he got engaged to a French Canadian Girl whose parents have both died leaving her with a few million dollars and a cocaine habit. After three years they broke up and he moved to New York and e is in the planning stages of opening up a record label in England which as well as promoting unsigned artists, tries to get people out of the cycle of poverty. At the moment though he is semi unemployed. I say semi because he works here at the hostel and is basically the captain of the ship, directing even the actual manager, yet he doesn’t get paid for it. I questioned him on how he survives financially and he said “If I had $100 to last me to the end of the year, then I would survive on that”. When he is low on money, he eats less. Instead of being upset about his predicament, he told me he just remembers times when he was in England and he had to go for a week or so with very little food, so now it is a similar situation, only he is out of the place that he hates. He mentioned that one time for his birthday, his mate bought him a pizza for a present from Domino’s, and they sat in the park and ate it feeling like Kings.

The more I meet people like this the more I feel ignorant for unconsciously assuming that everyone grew up in a similar way to me.

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One response

  1. matilda

    I’m enjoying these stories Jus. Keep it up.

    18,September, 2009 at 10:05 am

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