POLITICS
02/26/2014 11:05 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'I'm Lucky If I Can Buy Gas To Get To Work'

Janet Weatherly, 43, lost her job with a federal contractor in New Mexico and moved across the country to her parents' house near Pittsburgh. She makes $11 an hour as a sales associate for a major retailer.

I was hired for a retail position part-time around the holidays shortly after I got home. It became more of permanent part-time job and now it's permanent full-time. I work about 45 minutes from my house because I'm living in a very small town. So in order to get any kind of decent job it requires a lot of travel, and then of course by decent I mean around $11 an hour.

Before, I had a house and was able to take care of myself. Now I'm lucky if I can buy gas to get to work. I certainly can't afford all the repairs necessary on my old car. My parents, who live on Social Security, cover my car repairs on their credit cards and I try to contribute as much as I can to them every month.

I have a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in public health, both from the University of South Carolina. I have almost completed a doctoral degree in health education, except for my dissertation, from Southern Illinois University. I would work on my dissertation, but all of my research is in a storage unit in New Mexico. Almost everything I own is there because I couldn't afford to move it back to Pennsylvania.

Gas costs me $50 a week. I'm a Type 1 diabetic, so my diabetes medication costs $100 out of pocket a month. The storage facility costs about $100 a month, too. I also owe six figures in student loans. I can't save any money whatsoever.

I've pretty much defaulted on all the credit cards I had before. Things are so bad that I can't even afford to file for bankruptcy. It costs around $1,800, and I don't even make that in a month.

I was adjunct faculty at a university in South Carolina before I took a job as a health promotion manager with a federal contractor in New Mexico. I lost the job in 2009, and I managed to hang on for two years before I moved back to Pennsylvania.

I've applied to a number of health education coordinator positions at colleges so I could work with college students again. I have applied for hundreds of jobs over the past six years. I just keep applying.

There's a hospital that's an hour's drive from my house. I've applied for like 10 jobs there. They're perfect for me, and they don't even call. I've never even had an interview with them. The interviews I usually get are for jobs out of state. I just keep applying and hoping that someone is going to hire me. What can I do?

No one wants to live with their parents at 43. All I want is a job. I don't want anything for free. I just want to work for decent money again.

As told to Andrew Perez.

poverty

Janet's story is part of a Huffington Post series profiling Americans who work hard and yet still struggle to make ends meet. Learn more about other individuals' experiences here.

Have a similar story you'd like to share? Email us at workingpoor@huffingtonpost.com or give us a call at (408) 508-4833, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.

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