Sandra Davis

7 years at the Free Press

Some days I can hardly control the bitterness that wells up. Especially now. It has been a week of hustling to pay bills. The gas and the electric will be spared. The cable won't be shut off, at least for now. And the phone, well, I didn't make it in time and Ameritech has little patience with me these days. So for two days I have suffered in silent humiliation. I am 38 years old. I am the first person in three generations to graduate from college and pursue a profession. Already I have made more money than my mother, sister and brother combined, will ever see. I am the one my mother could always turn to when she needed a hand with her house payments. I am the one with resources to baby-sit a crack-addicted brother through another rehabilitation. I am the one who could send money to help my sister escape the brutalities of an abusive boyfriend. I never asked anyone for anything. I was the rock. Now I am a jumbled mass of emotion. I am hurt that people I thought were friends turned their backs on me when they crossed picket lines. A company I believed in and encouraged others to believe in threw me into the streets. I stayed late, ate at my desk, smiled and swallowed shit when I knew it indeed was shit. At 18 months into the strike my life is a stark contrast to what it was before. I hardly answer the phone anymore because I can't think of any more ways to tell my creditors that I don't have money for them. And though I can't afford to keep cable every month, I can't afford to not have it. My sanity depends on some semblance of how life used to be. They didn't have to hire goons to gas us or pay cops to harass us. All they had to do was bargain in good faith. It could be over by now. I could be back at the Detroit Free Press, editing copy for features and business. It wasn't the best job I had ever had but it was my job. Most days you can look at me and not know how deep the scars are. I do have some resiliency left. Just about enough to turn this bitter fruit into marmalade. No matter how badly it hurts right now, I know this poverty is temporary, and our victory will be a sweet, resounding refrain.

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