To make things even more miserable, we find out Jarrin has $92,000 in student loans for an education she’s found is now “basically worthless.” Student loans, unlike other forms of debt, can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.
Four months later, Jarrin turned up on NPR’s “All Things Considered” in a package on the long-term unemployed, where we find out she went without food for a while before food stamps kicked in.
I just started to apply for entry-level positions, service positions, every fast food. I’ve applied everywhere.
A week later, CNN did a spot on Jarrin, who had organized a letter-writing campaign to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the plight of the 99ers. This time we find she’s sent out more than a thousand applications with no success and had $5 left in her wallet and $46.77 in her checking account. It aired twice. Here’s the anchor seguing immediately after Jarrin’s discussion of poverty and despair:
FEYERICK: Wow, just heartbreaking. Friday afternoon Jarrin delivered more than 200 letters to Senator Sanders’ Brattleboro, Vermont office. We’ll see if they make a difference.
There’s news, and there’s news interpreted by comedian George Wallace. There he is. He’s up next. That’s the way I see it.
Nice segue, CNN.
In March, Michael Thornton wrote about Jarrin in The Huffington Post, reporting that she was days away from homelessness and that her health had deteriorated:
I have one more night here that is paid for after tonight. I have to be out by noon on weds if not paid. The loan company has called me all day long about my car. They are relentless. I am so stressed out that the medical tests they tried to do today couldn’t be done. They are trying to do a glucose tolerance test but you are supposed to remain calm. I don’t remember calm and what it feels like.
Thornton followed up in June and filled in some more details on why Jarrin hasn’t been able to find work:
“A few places that seemed interested were no longer interested when they asked for my salary history.” She’s willing to work for substantially less than she has made in the past, but that presents its own challenges, “Once they see I have made a considerable amount of money in the past they are no longer interested. One company wouldn’t set up an interview until I gave them my past salaries and told them how much I wanted to earn. That puts you in a difficult position because you don’t know how they will perceive what you are asking for if it is so much less than you have earned previously. One person asked why I would be looking for a job in fast food when I held a substantial position in a corporation.”
Yesterday, the Brattleboro Reformer weighed in on its down-and-out neighbor, who it says will have run out of money to pay for her Motel 6 room by now. Jarrin has survived without unemployment or a paycheck through the help of strangers who have also struggled through long-term unemployment.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have the cat to talk to,” she said. “If I didn’t have her I would have committed suicide back in Tennessee. But I couldn’t justify abandoning her again.”
Unless someone comes to her aid she’ll have to be out of her motel room by noon, back into her car, unless someone comes to repossess that. Then, Jarrin said she doesn’t know what she’ll do.
It’s hard to find a silver lining here. So hard that if there is one, it’s that Jarrin’s health has deteriorated to the point that she may be able to get disability soon.
Jarrin is a single anecdote, and there are millions more out there.
All you reporters who’ve profiled the jobless or used them as anecdotes over the last three-plus years: Now’s a good time to track those folks down and tell us what became of them.
(hat tip to Kat Aaron)