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6 the minnesota review Eliot Khalil Wilson Unemployment I've come to be among the headline lazy, the soft-working, the much-made-of unemployed, comfortable sitting, reading my "What Now?" pamphlet here, with the un-ransomed and all the paneling in this jaundiced office between the Collision Center and the Dollar General all the working day. And just where are these big pimping welfare burghers? The ones I hear so much about? Just metal chairs of people here, a water fountain, Ford gum machine like a parking meter. Above the counter, a honey-brown Breck-girl Jesus with Aryan eyes, next to posters defining the crime of fraud and the minimum wage. The temporary tire of charity gets you this far. The Mexican man to the left of me is next, and these must be his government daughters. His forearms, deep cut and clawed to patchwork, say he's worked grabbing and lifting chickens in the live-kill rooms of the Tyson plant his knuckles, raw, rubbed a permanent pink. They call him back and over the partition I hear, loud enough to hear, Estuvo despedido. No se por que. In anger, he returned to his chair, gathered his things. Then, Quiero chicle, said the youngest child, pointing to the gum machine. And none of us reached for purse or pocket, but how many started to, shifted even, then thought better of it. That was something sweet we all had, something sweeter? —when the father went for what had to be a painful dime— Wilson then the sight of the emerald-cut gum, red and green, held out to them like jewels. That was the Christ-fed five thousand then. But there are thirty-two million people in this room. ...


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