I was born in 1950 in Amarillo, Texas. I never had a hard time finding a job until the late '80s. I moved from state to state. The first job I kept for 12 months was one of the hardest I ever had. It was at Iowa Beef Packers in Amarillo. I was pushing 30. I was in the Teamsters Union, my first union job and it was the first time I earned over a thousand dollars a month.
I was a bottom-feeder when it came to jobs. I'd show up in a town, find out where the local Manpower or other daily work agency was and the next morning I'd be there at 6am, among the first 10 or so men waiting for a job of work.
Once in New Haven, Connecticut, I worked a couple of days at the Schick Razor plant. It was huge. Forklifts (ah, how I loved operating forklifts - the first step up from the pallet jack), truck loading docks. .. I remember being surprised that such a huge plant manufactured such a tiny product!
My first awakening to the new United States was when I called a Manpower company to ask what time I should show up in the morning to get a day job. I was asked my phone number. I didn't have a phone number; I was calling from a pay phone. I was told that Manpower required workers to have a phone and an address. The earth had shifted under my feet.
I've never read a sharper, concise analysis of my country's economy than RIP, the middle class: 1946-2013. It's here on Salon.com.
Please check out my album: Texas Socialist Infiltration Dance Songs Instigated and Agitated by Burl Dunn. It's on iTunes and other likely download sites.