During my seven year stretch in the green hole, I had various jobs and also collected unemployment.  That was after I got laid off from the brick layer tender job.  And because that was a union job that paid maybe seven bucks an hour, collecting the unemployment, $65 a week, was invisible manworth it.  (How much you get from unemployment is based on how much you earn)  I didn’t try to collect unemployment when I got laid off from the Newberry’s Department store because the pay was so low that the 30 or so bucks a week I would get wouldn’t be worth the agony of getting it.

You had to go to the unemployment office on a particular day of the week and sometimes the line would stretch clear out into the street.  You could stand in that line for hours as it slowly moved into the building and toward the three or four clerks, I guess they were, that stood at the their posts behind the counter.  And then you had to wait in suspense since it was a single line to see which of the people behind the counter you got, and that did make a difference because one of them, at least, made me feel like shit when I walked up to the window.  When he asked me if I had been looking for work and where I had been looking (which I hadn’t been doing), he made me feel like a lying thief.

I had enough problems in the parasite department as it was.  I had gone off to college to stand on my own two legs and flopped instead.  I paid my parents, when I had some extra, for my roach infested room and the food I ate.  But I didn’t pay them regularly and mostly used the money I made to pay for gas for the car and insurance and to buy cigarettes and some clothes now and then.  They never asked me for more money which was good of them, I guess, but I still felt like a parasite and a loser of the first order.  And my parents sure as hell didn’t do anything to assuage that feeling.  They didn’t speak once about or ask questions about my so-called “mental” problem.

But collecting unemployment I sure felt like a parasite   I was a cigarette smoking parasite that, at times, looked pretty much like a derelict, with my untrimmed beard and my hair sticking out every which away.  And I had real bad BO and also terrible dandruff both in my hair and my beard.

So I was a chain smoking parasite with real bad dandruff.  The appearance situation was made worse by my inability on occasion to go into the barber shop because if I did the barber would know I had come in for a hair cut.  I guess you could say that the barber made me self-conscious, but it wasn’t exactly like that.  I felt he could read my mind maybe, or see right through me, as if I were made out a very thin plastic, to my real intention which was to get a hair cut.

So I felt real shitty collecting unemployment and I guess I looked pretty shitty too.

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