Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day Two

It's Saturday, which is a bad time for someone looking for work.  The oil workers are still working, but all the administrative staff, including HR personnel, are off for the weekend.  Right now, I'm back at the town library, since they have free Wi-Fi.  For those looking for a place to wash up, the library has one of those private handicap access bathrooms. 

I picked up some goods at the Wal-mart this morning.  I got a cooler and some ice for perishables, and a DC-to-AC inverter to run my laptop in my car.  That way, when I sleep in the Library parking lot again tonight, I can watch some online TV or movies, since the library's Wi-Fi seems to still run after hours (at least it did last night).

People have been warning me about the ensuing winter like a war is coming.  Temperatures this week, though, are pleasant, in the 70-80s, as if this were the calm before the storm.  At nighttime, though, it does dip pretty low, so the sleeping bag I brought is coming in handy.
Most of the migrant labor here right now is 20-40 year old white males.  There are very few blacks, and only a little more Hispanics.  I heard the beginnings of the boom times in Detroit and Chicago were the same way.  I’m not sure why this is, but it might be because whites often have more resources to be able to pack up and go.  There might be some other reason, though, considering that a lot of the guys here worked in the construction industry, and are flat broke as a result of the Man-cession.  Whatever the reason is, a lot of the people back in Detroit could use a trip out here. 
Take the guy from Vegas last night.  For him, the alternative to coming here was food stamps and foreclosure.  I didn't ask if he was bankrupt, but I imagine a lot of workers here have gone through that as well.  For me, bankruptcy was on the horizon.  The guy from Vegas said he has a "woman" and kids back there.  When I asked him if he planned on bringing them out here, he replied "Hell no, I'm never moving here!"  From what I have observed so far, people aren't here cause they want to be…they’re here cause they have to be.  Although the oil fields pay well, that is not the prime motivation for guys coming here...desperation is.  It just helps to boost their pride and self-worth, which for a lot of guys here has been battered since the downturn.

Vegas guy was boasting to me that with his skills and experience, he is worth $40/hr and was making more than that back in '07.  For a lot of these casualties of the Man-cession, they still seem to think that a private sector blue collar worker without a college degree is worth more than $15/hr.  Somehow they didn't get the memo that their wages before were, along with housing prices, inflated by a toxic cocktail of securities backed by no-prior screening/$0 down mortgages, Fannie Mae and Community Reinvestment Acts, and Chinese savings rates. The inflated wages of the "bubble" here just reinforces their thinking.

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