The trouble started two years ago. Lenise had a job working in a
nursing home making $9 an hour. It wasn’t enough to make ends meet, but
she did what she could to raise two boys, she says. Sometimes, she
admits, she fell behind on her rent.
So when she got a new job in mid-2007 making more money, she went to
the management office to try to figure out how to pay off her balance
and keep paying her rent.
To help her out, the manager enrolled her in a program called EID –Earned Income Disallowance – that would hold Lenise’s rent steady for awhile until she was able to get on her feet.
Well, she thought the manager had enrolled her.
That same month, a tragedy happened in Cabrini-Green.A gate fell on a three-year-old boy, killing him, and the management company was fired.
Lenise assumed the EID paperwork had gone through. Until earlier
this year, when she received a notice from the new management company
that she owed thousands of dollars in rent.
If she didn’t pay, they told her, she was out.
She hired a lawyer, but not a very good one. A guy her neighbor had
hired to get him out of a traffic ticket. But Lenise didn’t know where
else to turn. He was all she could afford.
Then, she was laid off from her job.
Sometimes I think a lot of the “well, she should have just done something else, then” defensive bitchery that stories like this always engender is a way of keeping ourselves from thinking about just how fragile our lives really are.
When I was spending a lot of time covering weekend cops I began to get intensely freaked out every time Mr. A left the house without me. Which, considering he works in an office and likes to, on occasion, socialize with other humans, was fairly often.
But I had read and written so many stories about guys who just went out for milk and got shot in drive-bys or pasted by drunk drivers all over the freeway or just didn’t come home that I became convinced he’d die if he left my sight. Because really, that’s all it takes. One second, and your life as you know it is over.And you don’t have to do a damn thing.
One second, one death, one layoff, one bounced check, one fire, one flood … if we really thought about it, we’d go fucking crazy.