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FRACTURED - PART 6 - The END?
The foreman took Lynn to the break room after another worker helped her to her feet and she managed to make it to the water fountain to get the cold water splashed on her face.
“You pregnant?” he narrowed his eyes at her, ‘Cause it says right on the application that these fumes ain't good for no pregnant women. We’re not paying no Unemployment!”
She assured him she was not and that if only she could have a fan moved closer to help ventilate her area she would be fine. He said he’d look for one and told her to get back to work and that she’d better double up to get her order ready in time for the truck with all the time that had been wasted.
She brought a bandana to work the next day and tied it across her mouth and nose which brought chuckles from her co-workers and a dirty look from the foreman. The work was dirty and sometimes heavy but she didn’t mind that. Her first paycheck was enough to cover her bills, take the kids out for a treat and put back some toward moving. Lynn did not leave her employer’s number with Traci’s school, but instead left her sister’s as a contact. They were ill equipped to deal with Traci’s hyperactivity and had begun calling her for nearly every infraction. They didn’t want her out of their school any more than Lynn and she was determined to get moved close enough to the school that had a teacher and classroom designed to help kids with problems like Traci’s. If only she could keep from passing out from the fumes of the ink and cleaners.
She learned to squat down when she felt lightheaded so at the very least when she toppled over she didn’t make a big scene. She carried a large picnic jug of water and a wash cloth to work and kept them under her printer to wash her face too. Years later she would discover that she was allergic to many petroleum based products, deathly allergic to Latex and the cleaners were the culprit, but for the time being, fresh air was what she needed and badly! In her next paycheck she found a pink piece of paper and was almost out the door as she realized she was holding the proverbial pink slip! She rushed to the head supervisor’s office and pleaded with him to let her stay. He said she was a liability to her self, her coworkers and the company and that he regretted the decision.
It wasn’t long before things became so overwhelming Lynn had felt like she was literally disappearing under a pile of troubles that she was ill equipped to handle. Her dreams of moving became a tiny flickering flame whose light was hidden by tortuous thoughts of how she had failed again.
The next day when Lynn met with Dr. Pinden she told him she felt was ready to go home. “I know how I got here and I know what I need to do now to keep from having to return. I will be stronger and I will find another job. Applying for Welfare after pleading with Bill for support was the final indignity. Though the first check barely covered her rent and did not pay all of the utilities, she worked out a payment plan to keep them on and the food stamps kept them eating. Still, she could not shake the feeling of failure and felt more and more uncertain of her abilities. Within weeks, with no employment on the horizon and trying to deal with Traci’s increasing problems at school, she had started spending more and more time in her room. Then it had progressed to having the children in her sight at all times, trying desperately in her madness to gain some control of her situation. Dr. Pinden released her the next day and sent her home with prescriptions and an appointment with the psychologist he had mentioned.
She spent the next month doing what she had learned from her Mother. Whatever shortcomings the woman had in parenting she made up for in budgeting and always finding work. “If you’re out of work, you make looking for a job your job. You spend eight hours a day looking for Help Wanted signs, and asking where there are no signs, they may need you and not know it yet.” Her Mother had to start back into the workforce when Lynn was around ten and she secured a pretty good job at the college in the city and moved them into town where she could be close. She started as a dishwasher, worked her way up to a position in the salad department of food service and eventually became the head of that department, ordering all of the stock and supervising the other workers.
That weekend Lynn was pouring over the classifieds . There was a position open for a property manager, something she had no experience at doing. The position required at least an Associates degree, bookkeeping experience, ability to work independently, pass a criminal back ground check and your own transportation. She had the degree, she could certainly work independently and she had no record, not even a traffic ticket. Math was her worst subject and at the junior college they put her in lab just to get caught up with the most fundamental concepts for anything above a sixth grade level. Lynn had looked blankly from her first assignment, marked with a large red F, into the face of her instructor. “It’s Positive and negative numbers, Lynn! That’s all this is! Positive and negative”… Lynn was shaking her head no. She was already in the lowest Math class they offered but once her instructor realized she wasn’t faking ignorance, he got her into the lab where she learned enough to get her up to speed. As far as transportation, well, she could get anywhere between the city bus and her own two feet.
The ad said to call for an application or send a resume and gave an address and company name. Monday morning found her getting off the bus a few short blocks from the office of the apartment complex. She remembered what her Mom said, “Maybe they need you and just don’t know it.” Today, she was going to show them they needed her to do whatever it was this job required, experience or no, she was there to sell herself. She was literally in the right place at the right time and lied her ass off on the application. She didn’t mention her job at the printers, just her college and she made up the name of a trailer park in Arizona, claiming she managed it for her Uncle. Her Uncle sold mobile homes, was a very prosperous business man in the next town over and she had lived in Arizona – close enough. The woman of the couple, Mrs. Spear, was barely able to manage hospitable during her interview but Mr. Spear managed a couple of smiles. She was told to wait in the outer office and took that as a very good sign, unless they were calling to check on her management experience. In minutes, Mrs. Spear emerged from the other office, calling over her shoulder to get someone hired because she was not coming back to this “place” another day!
She took the seat that Mr. Spear offered and listened intently to what he had to say. There were two apartment complexes, one across town and each had a different type of HUD subsidy. She only had to show apartments at the other complex and be there half days during rent week the remainder of her time would be spent here, where the supervision of the tenants was needed more. They would have an employee from another company they owned train her and work with her the first week. The position included an apartment, rent free but because she had a boy and a girl HUD mandate required she have a three bedroom and none were available right then. He warned she would not be compensated with more salary because of this but assured her they were in the process of a rather difficult eviction and when a unit became available she would be expected to move in. This complex required a resident manager he told her in a voice that seemed to hold a hint of warning. She had office hours of 9:00 to 5:00 on Monday through Friday and was to be available nights and weekends if an apartment needed to be shown. He wrote a number on a piece of paper and slid it across the desk to her. She picked it up and stared at it, not speaking, which he took as a reluctant response and assured her once again that her salary would increase as she learned and required very little supervision.
Lynn forced the shaking from her body and the tremble from her voice and answered, “Of course. Well this should be adequate for starters as long as my housing opens up soon.” He stood and she stood, they shook hands and he asked if she could be there at 9:00 A.M. the following Wednesday.
So ended Lynn’s fractured life. She was on her way up. A salary higher than she’d ever earned, free housing, in the school district she needed to be in, what could possibly go wrong?