Note to the readers of this epic. The original intent of this website was to gather editorial comment for this book, which has, thus far, gained no appreciation by publishers or literary agents – all of whom have sent nice letters of rejection which indicate that it doesn’t fit into any existing genre. Thus far, I have not heard too much from the readers about what it is about this book that denies it access to the wonderful world of the remainder table at your favorite bookstore. Please, feel free to criticize.
THE CONCRETE JUNGLE
I have tried, religiously, to avoid living “in town.” Not because I have a phobia about cities, but, because I was raised in the country and simply prefer the somewhat wider, more open, spaces provided there. God knows, I’ve worn out any number of cars and done my share of depleting the fossil fuel reserves commuting to the city to make a living. I just haven’t spent much time living in one.
The time I have spent in cities across the United States has given me an appreciation of the benefits of city living. San Francisco’s BART public transportation is probably the finest, and most reasonable, method of conveying yourself from one place to another that I have ever encountered. I spent the better part of a week in Nashville once, and never rented a car – as a matter of fact, I walked to nearly everything I wanted to see. If you can afford it, staying in downtown Washington, DC is a “city experience” that requires little public transportation. I really envy my urban brethren their proximity to attractions and their workplaces. That is, unless they have become unemployed and need to find a new path to gainful occupation. In that case, we are all brothers and sisters placing one foot before the other on the pavement of joblessness.
A friend of mine made a go of freelance writing and finally concluded that steady employment was preferable to the vagaries of publishers who sat on manuscripts for months at a time and then, at best, issued kill fees on prose he deemed deathless. He took a job with the federal government in Baltimore, thinking that it would simplify his life. In an office overlooking the InnerHarbor of that fair city, he extolled the virtues of strolling the promenade on his lunch hour and absorbing the view of the water. He also had to live in a suburb of Baltimore because it was within his financial means and traveled downtown to earn his keep. As a result, his means of financial security was protected but the commute sucked.
Another friend recounted his commute to Manhattan during the fifteen years he worked there. “I lived in Wayne, New Jersey because I couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan; drove each morning to the train station; took the train; took the subway; and then walked six blocks to the office. I spent nearly two and a half hours a day commuting across the river!” He later began looking for a job in Pennsylvania and had trouble getting hired because employers didn’t want to offer him a cut in salary. “I had a hell of a time convincing someone that I was willing to take less money because I’d be further ahead financially by not working in Manhattan and spending over twelve hours a week commuting!”
I don’t know if there’s a moral here. Perhaps it would be: Working for a living is damned inconvenient, no matter where you live.
Possibly, a good exercise at this point – if you are living (and formerly working) in a city environment – would be to enumerate the positives and the negatives of your dilemma. For example:
Public Transportation: It’s cheaper than owning or using a car, by far.
Proximity to people in the same predicament: If you live in the country you have to travel about to find other people who are unemployed. In the city, you can just walk down the street.
Proximity to people in the same predicament: You’re so darn accessible to all of those other people who want to tell you their tale of woe!
Employers know where you live: They know you’ll look at whatever they have to offer because you don’t want to, or can’t, move. Actually, this holds true for people living in the country, too…
When you’ve made the list, compare it to what’s available out there and adjust your strategy accordingly.