Thirty years ago this fall I was unemployed and completely broke after having graduated from college into the worst job market since the Great Depression (until the last few years). I was forced to take a break from pounding sending out resumes and pounding the pavement in order to get something, anything, to pay the rent. The consequences of not making it would have been moving back home with my parents.
I signed up with a temp service that sent me out for “light industrial” jobs. I loaded and unloaded trucks, filled in as a bank courier, unloaded railroad cars filled from top to bottom with Andersen windows and wood molding at a lumber yard. Basic, unskilled manual labor. There were, however, a few benefits. All of that loading and unloading for the few months that I did it gave me, for the only time in my life, arms like Popeye. I didn’t mind the work for the most part. I believed that it was a temporary situation for me and that I would eventually get on with the rest of my life, like Saul Bellow’s Dangling Man.