This chapter is dedicated to my sister-in-law Jeanette, who saved my life!
THE BUS RIDE WAS LONG, HOT, AND EXHAUSTING! And I’d only had enough money for the bus ticket. There was nothing left for either food or drink.
The bus left Chicago at seven in the evening. I spent the first hour crying and the next two staring out the window as Illinois’ low flat farm lands rolled by that are now covered in suburban sprawl.
I spent a restless night as my stomach rumbled louder and louder the farther away from Maywood we got. I hunched lower in my seat and pulled my knees up to my chest hoping to muffle the sound of my hungry belly.
The next morning, a little old lady in the seat next to mine offered me part of her sandwich. I took it.
When the bus finally arrived in New Orleans, I called my brother, Pete, collect from the bus station in New Orleans and asked him if I could stay with him for a while. He said sure, and asked when was I planning on coming. I stalled a moment before answering, “I’m at the bus station in town, right now.”
My sister-in-law, Jeanette, was and is an extremely kind woman, to let a person everyone else in the family thought of as crazy, stay in her home.
As a way of returning her kindness, I cooked, I cleaned, and babysat their young daughter, Wendy. And for the first time in a long time, I had some peace in my life.
When my Unemployment Compensation ran out, I started looking for work. My other brother Ricky, who had moved to New Orleans because of trouble with the Police, was living in New Orleans East, and agreed to drive me into downtown New Orleans for an interview with Exxon.
I’d heard over the radio, that Exxon was looking for mud engineers. It was the early eighties and businesses were falling all over themselves being sensitive to minorities, especially Blacks. I assumed, therefore, that the term ‘mud engineer’ was the politically correct way of advertising for ditch diggers. I figured I could do that. And more importantly, no one could possibly be jealous of my becoming a ditch digger.