The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2011-11-25/page-two-the-metaphoric-and-the-mimetic/

Page Two: The Metaphoric and the Mimetic

A journey

By Louis Black, November 25, 2011, Columns

Having come together by chance, many of us stuck together, traveling through the economic hard times that followed. We were always on the move because we were always looking for work. In memory, it seems that for long periods we often ended up not working for months at a time, even though we went out looking for "jobs" every day. We never passed a "Help Wanted" sign – never saw any kind of sign that indicated that there might be something that could be done for which we might earn some pocket change or even something to eat – without checking it out. And we found them.

We had no home, so we were always on the move, which provided little help when it came to finding jobs. I mean, a large party of kids wandering through the neighborhood was not that conducive to hiring just some of them.

We were well-behaved, we worked hard, and we didn't get rowdy or fool around because we knew what happened to the kids that did.

There were a number of toy wagons pulled by kids who were part of this drifting life. We knew that we could hustle empty glass soda bottles for the deposit, as well as gather and turn in soda pop cans. There were always a couple of wagons with old computer parts and some electronic components, as well a couple of wagons stacked with health-and-safety kits. Over the years, we ended up actually doing quite a bit of work, graduating from small repairs to more ambitious projects.

Still, some mornings – hell, many mornings – you woke up feeling just so battered and bruised back then. Before even remembering what had happened the night before, you would be thinking about your life as being so simple that it was defined by the ways you were being kicked and pitched along this one long, dirty road. It was the way and the how. You'd hit sleep knowing there wasn't enough time left to cure anything but hoping for at least some patches.

There were still many of those times to come, especially early on, when you woke far more messed up than usual. Now, on those days it usually wasn't so hard to get started, because you were so used to being so completely out of sorts. It was just more of the same during times of more of the same.

It was a tough and a tired time. The only extra resource you had then was you, so if what was needed was you, you were expected to push the pedal all the way down.

This wasn't a war nor a famine. It was a period that seemed to suck all the time – not the first time things were like that nor the last. There wasn't much money, and in my life, at least, no love. When you'd finished one job, there'd be another. When you finished that, there'd be two more. But that was almost all of the geography available to you as you tried to figure what you were doing and how and why.

And we learned. We learned to work together and to rely on one another. We learned who you could depend on to tackle his or her share and more – who would keep going, even if their sections were done, until the job was finished.

And you'd figured out those who would slack, the ones who almost couldn't help but slack. They were always there almost immediately with endless explanations for why they hadn't been there when needed, followed by days of apologies. If you didn't know it before (you probably did), you found out how completely you lived and died by your word; either you kept it or you didn't. No mountains of words or hours of thought could make a difference otherwise.

Copyright © 2020 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.

The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/columns/2011-11-25/page-two-the-metaphoric-and-the-mimetic/

Page Two: The Metaphoric and the Mimetic

A journey

By Louis Black, November 25, 2011, Columns

Having come together by chance, many of us stuck together, traveling through the economic hard times that followed. We were always on the move because we were always looking for work. In memory, it seems that for long periods we often ended up not working for months at a time, even though we went out looking for "jobs" every day. We never passed a "Help Wanted" sign – never saw any kind of sign that indicated that there might be something that could be done for which we might earn some pocket change or even something to eat – without checking it out. And we found them.

We had no home, so we were always on the move, which provided little help when it came to finding jobs. I mean, a large party of kids wandering through the neighborhood was not that conducive to hiring just some of them.

We were well-behaved, we worked hard, and we didn't get rowdy or fool around because we knew what happened to the kids that did.

There were a number of toy wagons pulled by kids who were part of this drifting life. We knew that we could hustle empty glass soda bottles for the deposit, as well as gather and turn in soda pop cans. There were always a couple of wagons with old computer parts and some electronic components, as well a couple of wagons stacked with health-and-safety kits. Over the years, we ended up actually doing quite a bit of work, graduating from small repairs to more ambitious projects.

Still, some mornings – hell, many mornings – you woke up feeling just so battered and bruised back then. Before even remembering what had happened the night before, you would be thinking about your life as being so simple that it was defined by the ways you were being kicked and pitched along this one long, dirty road. It was the way and the how. You'd hit sleep knowing there wasn't enough time left to cure anything but hoping for at least some patches.

There were still many of those times to come, especially early on, when you woke far more messed up than usual. Now, on those days it usually wasn't so hard to get started, because you were so used to being so completely out of sorts. It was just more of the same during times of more of the same.

It was a tough and a tired time. The only extra resource you had then was you, so if what was needed was you, you were expected to push the pedal all the way down.

This wasn't a war nor a famine. It was a period that seemed to suck all the time – not the first time things were like that nor the last. There wasn't much money, and in my life, at least, no love. When you'd finished one job, there'd be another. When you finished that, there'd be two more. But that was almost all of the geography available to you as you tried to figure what you were doing and how and why.

And we learned. We learned to work together and to rely on one another. We learned who you could depend on to tackle his or her share and more – who would keep going, even if their sections were done, until the job was finished.

And you'd figured out those who would slack, the ones who almost couldn't help but slack. They were always there almost immediately with endless explanations for why they hadn't been there when needed, followed by days of apologies. If you didn't know it before (you probably did), you found out how completely you lived and died by your word; either you kept it or you didn't. No mountains of words or hours of thought could make a difference otherwise.

Copyright © 2020 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.

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