Troy and Desanda


Learning disabled, hopelessly unemployed
Troy McBride can't write the address for his next interview.
Warehouse stock, 331 Tiffany Street, in the Bronx.
His girlfriend, Desanda Gantry, also unemployed,
with one child by Troy. She's much brighter
but probably doesn't realize it. For one month
she worked an evening cashier job until her mother
refused to babysit at night. Wants to go out, live
her life, too. Desanda made numerous appointments
yesterday, can write and find the addresses o.k.

Troy has nowhere to live, has been crashing
with a woman in the Bronx. She's on public assistance,
they share the bed. How Troy reconciles this woman
with Desanda doesn't matter. Survival precedes love.
Troy can't meet the rent although she gives him
subway fare. He dresses well enough in the youthful
style, dark shirt, thin dark tie. At least no sneakers
or a stocking over his head. Smokes cigarettes
but so do a lot of people. Hedging bets on life.

Desanda is tolerant of Troy. Understands his
predicament. No stable home, no money. How
does she feel about her kid? At least she has
someone to love her now. Troy forgets
to record the names and phone numbers of companies
he applies at. Burned out on angel dust. Wants
a job that pays and offers benefits. Too old
and desperate for a work experience/basic education
program. Needs a living wage, not a stipend.
But can't read or write or even speak coherently.

Interestingly he's not desperate enough to work fast food
at age 22. So the woman on public assistance is
a surer source of income than we think. Good.
Security guard may be the way to go with Troy.
No police record, requires no writing skills, just
stand there and be big. A job with no security
for the guard. Troy's mother threw him out
four years ago, although she helps out now and then.
He dropped out of high school in the tenth grade
kicked around the house and streets two years
doing drugs and partying. Met Desanda, got her pregnant.

Does Desanda have a contraceptive in place?
We don't know. As employment counselors, is that
our business? Only if Desanda brings it up. On
the bulletin board there's plenty of information
about family planning clinics. When she lost that
cashier job, I was completely frustrated, but not Desanda.
Takes it all in stride. I gotta admire her cheerfulness,
but why shouldn't she be happy? She has friends, family,
a community such as East Harlem is, not the worst,
and a purpose for living and acting in her kid.
She feeds the baby, negotiates living space with her mother.

Troy and Desanda wake up, late August morning,
hot and humid New York City. They have interviews
planned as well as personal business and pleasures
today. They have responsibilities, society puts
survival on them, never mind their disadvantages.
It is tough and it is good. Desanda will land
another cashier position, maybe today. Troy
will go for security jobs, I figured it out, the
uniform will make him feel better, the check
too. The work boring, easy, slow, perhaps fulfilling.


Copyright 2007 by Robert Ronnow.