The city was a place of beginnings for everyone. No matter where you were born you inevitably had to go to the city and find work. There was plenty of it as well, but you had to make a world for yourself, nobody else would. You would have to find a home and if you couldn’t, you would have a few other options. I was in this position upon moving to the great city, having just passed an interview for a job I was to start on Monday. Of course, I would need to find a place to stay and with such limited amounts of money, I knew I couldn’t pay for this shelter.
The first day was certainly the most difficult. I had a suit and a briefcase of money that would pay for my food every day. However, I could not afford a home until the end of the first month. What would you do in such a situation? I ended up sitting on a bench on the side of a road and wondered myself if I could find a place. Night eventually came and I was practically dead on my feet. I wasn’t about to attempt sleeping on the bench, but it soon hit me, there was a shelter in the city.
Throughout that night I walked up pavements and asked anybody I could see for directions. Some of these I truly believed were correct, but I just ended up in another zone of the city, meeting people who told me it was in another area. I didn’t give up, a shelter was what I needed and so that is where I journeyed. Around one in the morning I found it, tucked away between two buildings, a hovel in the darkness. I spoke to the receptionist, a disgruntled old man who eyed me up and down and told me to go home.
I explained my situation, but he didn’t follow for a moment. All he saw was a tidy man with a briefcase. Still, my desperation was beginning to show the more I begged him until he no doubt saw the fear and hopelessness of a homeless man in me and he conceded. I was charged a small amount and he led me to a bed that would be my own. I slept on my briefcase, happily amongst many in that large room.
Some of you are telling me to tell my boss, but pride was something I held dearly in those times; pride of reputation if not pride of self. The real challenge was keeping clean when it came time for me to go to work. I sacrificed two meals to purchase soap, a razor and a pair of scissors. I washed myself rather unpleasantly in a community shower, changing into one pair of civvies to save the suit. Shaving was hard and cuts were inevitable, but shaving cream was far too pricey. Still, I managed it. I worked an entire week this way, maintaining the companies respect for me. Of course, my situation was only going to get worse, but I would fight it till the end of the month.
Finally, the inevitable did happen and I had money in my bank account. I stared at my dwindling food funds, my miserly behaviour saving me enough to purchase proper body-care to bring me back to my old self without a shower. Receiving my first-paycheck was a major boon, drawing money from an ATM and meeting with an apartment owner.
The apartment was from a bygone age, the furniture and decoration I dated from the early nineties, but other than that it had a shower and a bed. He informed me that the furniture did not belong to him and I could have it. The previous owner had moved out rather quickly a few months ago without a second thought for the furniture. I understood now why the apartment was so cheap, it was storage space that had been outfitted to be a home. Still, this was only a benefit to me.
I cleared that apartment out of any furniture I didn’t need, selling it for a good price or selling it for scrap. It was time to make a climb up the ladder and even the barebones of an apartment was a few rungs above living in a shelter. When I finally returned to work I felt like a new man, clean, moderately healthy and well rested. I shook hands with the boss two week after that, he heard about my suggestions for marketing and found them lacking, but creatively inspired. That show of originality turned out to be something that he held dear in the company.
I continued my work under the manager for the next three months before I was offered a position. When it comes to working in corporate you need to understand that doing your job right does not afford you a promotion or raise nearly as fast enough. You need to excel and show up your boss, so whenever it came down to the kissing-up sessions I wasn’t treating the boss like a god, but rather a pier. I educated myself with books and told him about areas of the company that could be improved and more importantly, why they were costing us too much money.
My ambition shined bright and I could not be ignored. I am never a cruel or a rude man, but a straight man. I got to the point, but I was never so blunt. The next month I was transferred to another department, working with other managers like the one I had ordering me around. I would stay at this position a lot longer than my time as an average employee, but I ran a tight ship, always making myself dependable, but once more, exceeding expectations and providing input to my betters.
I never forgot my stay in the shelter, the struggle of what a man must go through to find a job. When my position was high-enough I made a suggestion that seemed unlike me, but I reasoned it as a publicity stunt. It was a program for homeless and disheveled people to find a job in the city, creating a network between many shelters and homes as well as large companies like my own. We were helping people off the street into jobs or into education and training. It was a slow process, but wholly it was an appreciated one.
I never needed to do it. There was no personal gain as the company took all credit. It wouldn’t benefit me in a physical way, but I felt a lot better knowing an honest worker need not fall so low.