The Black Hole of Long-Term Unemployment
Continued from previous page
"All I Need Is One Chance"
I first noticed Rembold’s tic on Sunday, my last day in Indiana. Out of nowhere, without provocation, he'd suddenly say things like "Man, I just need a job," or "All I need is a chance," or "I wanna work, make stuff with my hands." He’d been filling the lulls in our conversations with these little outbursts, symptoms, I assumed, of the worry and anxiety that never left his side. Which is why I called a few weeks after my visit, hoping for good news.
And there was, after a fashion. Angie, his daughter, had ended up sticking with Check$mart, much to his relief. But for him, the leads were sparser than ever. "There's this neighbor here,” he said, “her son's a shift manager at the Walmart, so he's gonna see what they might have." He also mentioned an electronic wire and cable manufacturer with openings in Bremen, a half-hour south. He'd recently applied there for the third time this year. This time around, he went on, he planned to march in and demand the interview he’d never gotten. "I mean, what's it take to get in to see someone there?" he asked me.
Rembold doesn't have time on his side. Unlike the now-famous "99ers," the folks who received nearly two years' worth of unemployment benefits, his will expire sometime this winter, short of the 99-week mark. He's not sure what he'll do by then if he can't find work. Maybe take one of those $8-an-hour jobs after all. For now, though, he's just checking the job boards each morning, shipping off resumes and cover letters, firing up the Suzuki, chasing leads.
I asked if he still had any hope left that something good would happen. "I don't know," he replied. " 'Course if ya don't go, ya don't know."