My Great Recession: When Working Three Jobs, Seven Days a Week Still Isn’t Enough

By Guest Columnist May 18, 2009

Ed Note: We put out a call for stories from young people of color about how people are surviving this recession. “My Great Recession” continues with this submission by Angel Garcia. Want to contribute? It will also go on the "Race & Recession" report page Send your 300-word first person accounts, visual art, or video blogs to submissions [at] colorlines [dot] com. By Leticia Miranda It’s really hard for me to say for sure whether or not it’s because of the economy that the last months have been so difficult. But the night when I considered ending a relationship because I was too stressed out, I blamed the recession. I was carrying three jobs and just barely making ends meet. The plan was to hold these jobs down while applying for other ones that were more in my area of interest. If I didn’t find a job in three months, I’d have to go back home with my parents in the white conservative suburb where they live. Motivated by the terrible picture of me: a dark brown Chicana carrying This Bridge Called My Back in my hand and talking about healing our communities – in a white suburb – with my parents (who I wasn’t out to), I did everything I could to stand my ground here in the Bay Area. I just worked. After some calculating, I realized I was working between 40 and 46 hours a week between three jobs, 7 days a week. Some employees at the cafe where I worked had kids and were struggling to make ends meet working minimum wage with meager tips. The owner of the place couldn’t afford to give us raises and jobs were hard to come by elsewhere. She worked some employees between 38 and 50 hours a week because she couldn’t afford to hire more employees. I wouldn’t eat out, go out for drinks or buy anything frivolous and yet I could barely keep an average balance of 200 to 300 dollars in my checking account. And after so many job rejections, I started to take it personally, feeling really low about myself and my future. The friendships and support that I did have were strained as I didn’t have time to see people or really talk to them. I started to feel my spirit slipping. That night on the phone I realized how the stress of it all was making it hard for me to keep the one good thing in my life from breaking. But instead of my girlfriend saying, “OK, peace,” and crushing my heart and small dream of making it here in the Bay, she wrote up a draft cover letter and revised my resume for a part-time job she found that she thought was perfect for me. I got the job and am still celebrating, believe me! But it’s tough. I’m still juggling 3 jobs and signed up for the great-great-great grandfather college loan payment plan, but I try not to feel overwhelmed by it all. I never expected this transition into womanhood to be easy, but this economy is no doubt taking my path on some crazy turns.