“I worked 20 years on the garbage truck. Back in the day I used to work, no shirt, just shorts… in the winter time! But I’m out now. I keep myself occupied with walking. I take walks all over town and check on elderly people that I got to know when I worked on the garbage truck. I help them out. I check on their houses, keep an eye on them, clean them. I also wash a lot of windows. The Chinese place? I did those windows. The eyeglass place on 3rd Street? The dentist on 3rd Street? Did them all. All the old-timers in the police department know me. Just wait ’til the boys down there see this picture, they’ll love it. ‘Oh boy, there’s our rookie!'”
“A couple of my friends turned out to be professional athletes, professional boxers, world champions. They all grew up in the projects with me here in Troy and went on to great careers. I didn’t box professionally, though. Just actual fights. *laughs* Things have been so down lately, though. I’m on social security. I have so many injuries that I got from painting and roofing. It’s just been hard. It’s been a real hard struggle. I haven’t worked in five years. I’ve had six surgeries. I just had an MRI the other day, now I have to go back and see the results. I just wish I could move to a nicer place where the landlords take care of their property so we can have a nice home. That’s it. That’s all I want. To hang out in the back yard with the grandkids, have a safe place where they can come. There are other things in life that I’d like to have, but realistically they’re not going to happen unless something comes through for me. I’m sorry, I know it’s a bleak picture, but it’s honest. I’m being real. This is part of the real stories of Troy. I hope it gets better. It has to.”
“I just brought my mom and my little brother out from Iowa to support them. That’s why I’m working, to take care of them. I’ve got work here… really good work, too. Construction. I’ve always worked with my hands, but I haven’t always been handy. I used to wash dishes. Worked at a meat company. But I’d like to get into real estate. Flipping houses. I didn’t graduate high school, though; so that’s one step I’ve got to take to get me there, I think. Getting started is the hard part, though. But there’s nothing really that’s stopping me. Nothing but me, tell you the truth.”
“There’s not a lot that I’m driven by more so than my kids. I mean, I try to keep a healthy marriage. My husband and I have been married for 13 years. But I wake up every day for my kids. I guess y biggest struggle is that I never feel like there’s enough money. I want to make sure my kids have a house to live in. Make sure they’ve got food on the table. Make sure the lights stay on. Those are big priorities to me. My husband and I both work. We’ve got three different incomes, but it never seems like enough. I just want to make sure I keep my kids happy and bring them up as good people, smart, polite. I have a son who’s 12…”.
“Oh right.” *laughs* “He’s 11. She’s my little…”
“My husband and I have been married about two and a half years, but we’ve known each other for almost 10 years now. We were friends for a while, then dated for about 6 years or so before we got married. What can I say? I love him so much. He takes such good care of me.”
“Even though I can’t play music, I really love music, and I really love being around people that love to play music. I tried to pick up drums, but I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t even into music that much in high school, but I really loved going to concerts with my friends in high school. Even if I didn’t like the bands, I liked the experience of being at concerts. When I came to RPI, I got involved in this community that put on small concerts on campus. I got to help run that and put together concerts. That was the coolest thing in the world.
And that inspired me to change what I wanted to study. I came to the school for chemical engineering, but after learning about all of the electronics that powered these concerts, I switched to electrical engineering. And I’ve come full circle. Music and electronics inspired me to change my major, and now I’m using my engineering knowledge to help musicians create better music.
I like that I’ve found a community of people that really love art and music, people that understand that the humanities are just as important as engineering. Without art, technology doesn’t ever get into anyone’s hands.”
“Yo! Get a picture of us!”
“I want to get my life together. I’m a diabetic. I want to start paying more attention to my health. I want to get my own house for my own family. Make my life better. Make my grandson happy. I want something better for him. I know what I need to do. I need to get back to school so I can learn to read and write. I want to be able to read street signs and learn the roads. I want to be able to read to my grandson. I wish I was just on a beach somewhere, like Hawaii or Florida, reading with my grandson. He’s my pride and joy. That’s all I’ve got in life.”
“Ain’t nothing going on for me. I’m on disability. I’m on a fixed income. Can’t take vacations. I guess I keep going on for my wife. I’ve been married 18 years. I can’t handle her nagging, though. She’s always bitching me out for being wrong. My wife’s a bitch… and she knows it. I call her that all the time. She’s the queen of bitches.”
There’s got to be something good about her.
“Oh I didn’t say there’s nothing good about her. I was just pointing out that she *is* the queen of bitches.”
And what does she call you?
“I wanted to do something like you’re doing: talk to people and help share their stories. But what you’re doing right now, going out and talking with people… that’s the part I haven’t had the courage to do. It’s the one step that I haven’t been able to work myself up to. But you’ve inspired me to at least try, so… thank you!”