Wednesday, October 20, 2010
The Cleavers Today
After 20 years of faithful service, Ward was laid off from his managerial job. His employer got bought out by another company which in turn was swallowed up by still another holding company. In order to pay for the leveraged buy outs, the company eliminated senior staff and either moved the jobs overseas, or replaced them with younger and cheaper employees. A young man almost half Ward's age does his job and two others for about half of his old salary and benefits. Ward was unemployed for about a year and a half before he found part time work as a store clerk at WalMart for almost minimum wage and few to no benefits. The humiliation and the stress of his situation caused Ward to start drinking, and he's gained weight and lost hair.
June works full time as a grocery check out cashier at Piggly Wiggly making most of the money that pays the family's bills (those that can be paid). She gets up at 4AM so Beaver can start his paper route and to make breakfast for Ward and Wally. She gets home from work at about 7PM, makes dinner for Ward and the Beav (Wally usually is not home for dinner since he works after school). While at work, she calls Beaver every hour on his cell phone to make sure he's at school or at home, and to keep the doors locked while he's home.
Wally goes to school, and then works full time as a fry cook at Denny's for the dinner shift. June has the car, so he has to take the bus to school, and then it's an hour long bus ride to get to Denny's out by the interstate. He's frequently late, and has been reprimanded many times. Eddy Haskell always makes fun of Wally's second hand clothes while concealing the piles of delinquency notices from the credit card he used to pay for all of his pimped out bling. Wally had to give up school sports after Ward lost his job so that he could go to work. What little free time he has, he spends getting stoned with all the skateboard kids down by the municipal pool, which is now drained and permanently shut down because of budget cuts.
Beaver rides with June at 5AM to do his paper route every day. With all the foreclosures and people moving out, crime is up in the neighborhood, and so she fears for his safety. She drops him off at school on her way to work. Beaver takes the school bus home after class with strict instructions to stay in the house. June fears for his safety, but tells him that it's his responsibility to look after Ward, who is usually passed out on the couch with the TV going when Beaver gets home.
They are still in the house, though their mortgage is now worth more than the house. Wally looks forward to a future of community college or military service. Unless he can get some kind of a great scholarship, college is out of the question. His grades are good, but tuition and other expenses, even with scholarships, make college just too much. When Ward lost his job, they lost their health insurance, so now they rely on visits to a clinic and to emergency rooms. They usually have to go without something to pay for meds (like Beaver's anxiety medication). They are already getting foreclosure notices on the house, and the city is sending lien notices because they cannot afford the property taxes anymore. June lies awake at night worrying about having to move into a small apartment or rental unit in another cheaper part of town and having to take the boys out of school in mid-semester.
Posted by Counterlight at Wednesday, October 20, 2010