This afternoon while walking by the beach in the bay area I met a homeless college graduate. She seemed to be about 24 years old and she did not look homeless. She wore glasses and a long burgundy dress. When I first saw her I thought she was another hiker on the trail.
I realized otherwise when she ducked down and disappeared into a small passage in the dense foliage on one side of the trail.
Seeing that, I took off in a different direction. Somewhat lost for a bit, I began to realize I was in the middle of a hobo city. I noticed several tents hidden in the trees. Based on the size of the area and how close the tents were to each other there could could have been over forty people living there.
The sun was going down and I decided to play it safe and retrace my tracks to my car. On the way back, on a well lit open trail, I again encountered the young woman.
When we made eye contact she smiled and stopped. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked if she lived out here. She asked if I did. I said no, I was just out for a walk exploring and said, respectfully, that it was a beautiful place. I asked how long she’d lived here. She said not long.
How did she end up here? She said she was here because she was “over qualified.” She’d come from Pitsberg on the promise of a job, but they didn’t pay her. As we talked, I was surprised that she sounded clear, intelligent, sane and drug free. Why live in a tent in a hobo city? She said there were no jobs for chemists.
She had both job experience and a bachelors degree in analytical chemistry, but believed the economy would never recover and this is the beginning of the end.
I told her I felt the same after 9/11, but there hasn’t been a total collapse. You have to apply to a lot more jobs these days to get an interview, and you have to interview a lot more to get a job, but there are jobs, at least jobs you can use to cover the basics like food and shelter.
She said gets to the library a few times a week for her allotted hour of Internet use and I took her email address. If you know of any jobs for analytical chemists in the bay area, let me know.
I offered the ideas of going back to school to get her Masters or Ph.D. with student loans, or changing careers entirely, starting from the ground level.
She said she was willing to do yard work. Seemed like a nice person.
I believe we are in the mess we are in now due to our government pouring so much money into war and that if we can get out, the economy could recover.