You Have a Baby on Your Shoulders, Give Me a Job

Yesterday I awoke to Brit saying, “Donka doo balls.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and then he made me watch the YouTube video. It was hilarious and then became one of our many mantras for the day. After also watching the “Have you ever had a dream where you, and, then you…” kid, we declared that the day had to be a good one. If only we’d been correct…

We scurried into town thinking to take Bob’s advice and check out the allegedly hip and young southeast side of Portland. After picking up the van from the shop, we drove to a station that we thought we could park at. It turns out that not only can we not park there but the street-making people decided to give us a grand challenge, forcing me to drive in circles and wonder if they were relaying the streets behind me just so I could come back around and be baffled at how it all looked different.

We gave up on that station and went one over, where Helen dropped us off the day before. This one had a lot of angry signs telling train-riders that they certainly could not park in the Target parking lot, and after consulting a Subway employee, we found out that we had to drive further in.

So then I drove the wrong way on a one way, like you do, and tackled some weird roads and traffic. Next thing we know we’re on the train all the way to the south, to a place called Powell. It turns out Powell is way too far east, and after sitting at a bus stop for a long time we wandered around the less-than-affluent area of far east Portland.

Eventually we got on a bus, misunderstood just where it ran, and then didn’t get our bearings until we were on a bridge over the Willamette River, meaning the wrong side of the city. We got off at Portland State University, looked pretty lost to everyone around us, and then decided to walk across Hawthorne Bridge.

We hit the bridge just right – just as the middle section was being lifted by two gigantic pistons to allow for a boat to pass underneath – and all the runners and cyclists (in Portland there are a TON of both of these categories) had to wait with us until the super slow mechanism put the bridge’s innards back into place. The bridge provided some amazing views of the city and just to the south of the city, and once on the other side we realized our road was curving away and losing its sidewalk.

We briefly hopped a bus, confused the driver with our own confusion, and then walked along talking about how we had a fairly useless morning so far and wouldn’t it be great if we could find some food.

Now for some backstory: the nice guy Rick that we met on Sunday had a daughter around our age. Whilst chatting with her, she told us about Burgerville, which is a burger chain that serves fast food. The thing is that the food is all local and the meat is organic. It’s ethical fast food. No wonder this hasn’t caught on in the rest of the country!

Okay, so there we were, wandering in an area just outside of the cool area, talking about food and how it tastes good when you bite into it and swirl it around in your mouth and stuff, and then BAM a Burgerville is standing in front of us. We did the only thing one can do when one’s stomach threatens to take one’s life, and pretty soon we chowed down on some burgers and onion rings, both of which were delicious.

Then we again waited for a bus, it finally came, and we rode it some twenty blocks until we got to the cool part of the Hawthorne District. We walked along, talked to a few businesses that of course weren’t hiring, then ended up walking another 30 blocks to get to the top of a really nice hill, which eventually would have sprouted into Mt. Tabor if we’d let it, but we instead abandoned it for another bus.

Then we were on East Burnside and thought it was a happening area, only to find that we again were too far east (we kind of suck at finding the exact areas we want). We walked another 30 blocks, went through Laurelhurst, which would be fun to live in, and then came upon a cool record store. Brit talked to a guy that owns a plant shop and the guy was eager to hire him, but at minimum wage and as part time, and then some rain came down.

We hopped a bus to the Living Room Theater, where I intended to talk to the manager from the day before. He looked right at me, then told the girl that was fetching him for me that he was busy. “He’s with someone else,” she said semi-apologetically. After wondering if that meant I should wait or leave, I left.

Back outside, Brit and I sighed heavily. The day had been a bust, and though we’d seen some inarguably cool areas, we also walked around 70 blocks and had no real job prospects. We did all that we could do: we went to Kell’s Irish Pub in Downtown Portland.

Brit got a Heffeweizer and I got a Porter and together we devoured delicious sweet potato fries with chipotle sauce and listened to the Irish Pub’s authentic Irish bartender’s serene Irish accent. It made everything better, then we hit the train and went home.

Stuck in traffic and delirious from disappointing returns and walking too much, we made songs about Camas, Washington, that really said nothing that a child couldn’t gather from looking at pictures of the place. They were beautiful songs, though, and they still get stuck in the head while driving.

The rest of the day was spent sighing and talking to Helen and endlessly surfing the internet, then off to bed.

Today we awoke a little later than normal, spouted gibber gabber at each other, ate, and took off. Our usual station was full so we had to drive farther, then the van was out of gas so we had to fill up. Then Oregon threw us for a loop, because they have a super wonky rule where you’re not trusted enough to fill up your own car.

So some guy came over and filled up the van and kind of topped it off and it made me nervous and we both felt really weird about it because why in the world couldn’t we just hop out and do it ourselves? I’ve filled up my share of cars, and only on a handful of those occasions has my filling-up resulted in an explosion.

We found the other station, parked lightyears away from the train, boarded the train, and rode it until we hit a station that would take us north, which we hadn’t done yet. That train came, we took it, saw some sights, heard some sounds, and then got off.

Only that we got off way too far west. See what I mean? We have a knack for just missing our target location by about 30 blocks. We walked around an industrial area for a while, went by a huge hospital, saw a few businesses, and then finally made it to the hip area for the morning, Mississippi. There were plenty of trendy shops, a comics shop in which the owner said they, “definitely weren’t hiring,” a music store in which the owners awkwardly paused their conversation to stare at Brit while he bought an album, and carts.

Food carts are a Portland thing, and they’re pretty great. In several different locations around the city, there are clusters of low-tech trailers with food-making apparatuses inside and usually just two or three people. And then you order, and they make the food. Then you eat it and smile.

So today was our first cart experience. Our cart won the 2010 best cart award (I’m telling you, Portland loves their carts). I got a chickpea sandwich with all kinds of delicious things on it, and Brit got a lemon chicken sandwich. Then we both got organic juice drinks from this other cart. It was an absurdly delicious lunch.

After eating, we walked some more, felt kind of sad, and then, when we were so far north we didn’t know which way was up, we rode a bus back south. Our sadness stemmed for a mutual understanding that jobs actually were pretty scarce in Portland – at least for those of us who spent more time doing collegework and trying to make continually better art than holding down jobs and getting experience in stuff. Experience is for lame-o’s.

We rode a bus until it joined with another bus, then rode that one until it ended its route and stopped. Obviously we had again mixed up our bus lines and took the wrong direction bus. It was just us and the bus driver, so as he took his break I peed in a weird streetside “loo” which was really just a silver box with a toilet. For some reason it was way more awesome than a porta-potty (even though the porta-potties here say “Honey Pot”).

Got back on the bus, then rode it for a loooong time until we were in southeast Portland, in Sellwood. We walked a few blocks, then started checking places out. A Starbucks said they might want Brit, a bike store said they hated me even though they were hiring (because I don’t have shop experience), and a grocery store said I had to apply online. I have applied online. Okay, well do it again. Why? That’s how we hire, that’s why.

What it comes down to is that people will not hire you if you don’t have experience but you can’t get experience if you don’t have a job. This catch-22 is what makes employment hunting hell for young inexperienced people. On top of that, applying and job hunting in a state that is not your own is even more difficult because everyone wants applications done online, meaning they get to them whenever they feel like it (or never). How are we supposed to know if anything will actually happen during the two week window that we’re in town?

We left Sellwood and rode a bus back to the station, then took a train back to the van, then the van back to the house. We ate, talked, wept, and again surfed the internet. Wiley came in and I got lost in his furriness and then everything was better.

We come back to Plano a week from today, so hope’s not yet lost. Hey, I notice you have a moustache. Give me a job.

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~ by Jon C. Forisha on July 15, 2011.

One Response to “You Have a Baby on Your Shoulders, Give Me a Job”

  1. Portland is a tough market. Hang in there. Not too late to head our way a couple days! We could work something out if you guys want to look here.

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