New Jersey man John Wands has been a part of the American workforce for decades, continually reinventing himself through careers as an electrician, a scanner operator and a photo retoucher. In 2009, he was laid off -- an obstacle the 50-year-old family man has overcome before. This time, however, was different.
With the recession bearing down on the country, jobs seem to have evaporated. In the past, Wands was able to easily navigate from one job to another. NorthJersey.com reports that after sending out 9,000 resumes without finding steady employment, things are looking bleak for Wands and his family.
Wands was forced to sell his beloved 1969 Plymouth Barracuda, a loyal companion over the last 30 years. The family is currently subsisting off Wands' weekly $400 unemployment checks, benefits which are slated to run out in October.
"Literally, there will be nights where I will stay up until 5:30 in the morning," [Wands] said. "I talk to friends and they say, 'Oh, don't worry. It'll work out.' I say, 'You are not there. You are not going to the food bank. You are not watching: 'Oh, my God, if I drive this distance it'll cost me $3 that way and it'll cost me $3 that way.' Isn't it ridiculous to live that way?"
The weekly checks aren't enough to meet the family's expenses -- between groceries, gas, health insurance payments and more. Wands' 13-year-old son Zachary had to undergo a recent surgery to reroute veins that were stressed by the teen's hypertension, a condition which would cause internal bleeding if left untreated. The family will soon find themselves buried under medical bills.
A monthly trip to a local food bank helps them out with some basic groceries, but Wands finds himself embarrassed his family can no longer attend any social gatherings that would require them to spend money.
"The one time we did go, we stopped at a restaurant and the kids were all ordering stuff," Wands recalled. "I'm going through my wallet. Oh, my God, do I even have enough? ... We couldn't even get a chocolate milk."
For more, visit our new Third World America section.