Montana wasn’t a state I ever gave much thought to until I found myself staring out the window of an Amtrak train at the seemingly unchanging scenery of big sky country. As the train rattled down the tracks I started to wonder if we were even moving—the scenery seemed to repeat itself every 30 seconds like the fake background behind a car in an old movie. It’s hard to explain it, but the miles upon miles of emptiness gave me a sense of reverse claustrophobia.
The entry for consultant was especially hilarious. To paraphrase: “Your kids won’t be able to tell anyone what you do, but you’ll make good money and get to travel a lot.”
When I first bought my own insurance in ’05 it was actually pretty good—my premiums were about $144 per month, low co-pays, a $500 reasonable deductible and coverage for things like massages, chiropractor adjustments and physical therapy. However prices increased sharply every year after that, and by the end, I was paying $244 with a $5,000 deductible.
“Cheapness” typically conjures images of people who buy cheap goods at Wal-Mart, instead of the more expensive, higher quality goods that last longer. However, “immigrant cheapness” is more nuanced than that, existing over a continuum that goes from practical stories of sacrificing to get ahead, to just plain silly.
Seven years later, I was back in Seattle and on unemployment again. I received a letter in the mail telling me that I had to report to the local WorkSource, Washington State’s unemployment office, in two weeks to have my resume reviewed, take classes on resume writing, looking for work, interviewing, and other training courses.
One key benefit of this situation is that my reflexes were “touchy”, so when my friend Geoff tried to jokingly throw a punch at me one day, I blocked it, and twisted his arm behind his back without thinking. Geoff wasn’t mad (probably because he was really stoned) and put me in contact with this dude, who knew another dude who could get me “crowd management gigs” at concerts and other events. I was 18.