This is an excerpt from the Ridenbaugh Press book Transition, by W. Scott Jorgensen. More will be appearing over the weeks to come. The book is available now from Ridenbaugh Press.
When I started to think hard about leaving Grants Pass, one of the first people I met with was Carl Wilson. Over the years, he had become like a second father to me.
We met at the Bluestone Bakery in downtown Grants Pass. It was surprisingly quiet, as the sun was shining brightly and the Growers’ Market was underway just a few blocks down the street. Carl pulled up on one of his many motorcycles and we took a table outside. The coffee shop was almost completely empty.
For more than two years, I had been responsible for booking the Wednesday talk shows at the radio station, as well as the Tuesday shows that Carl hosted. I always tried to book the shows about a month in advance in order to allow for adequate preparation, and was already working on November’s schedule. As such, one of my first orders of business was to tell Carl that I was leaving town, and would be unable to continue booking and hosting the show.
He listened patiently as I gave him the rundown on what was happening.
“Sometimes it’s all right to take a leap of faith,” he said.
Though I was no longer working at the paper, I was still doing the Wednesday talk shows on KAJO. This worked out well for me. Packing and making all of our moving arrangements would have been a nightmare if I were still commuting 45 minutes each way to work eight, 10 and 12-hour days in Cave Junction.
I was doing a show one day when I received a text from my longtime friend Robert. It stated that he wanted to “beat me to a pub.”
Because of my busy work schedule, I had rarely seen Robert or my other friends since they had helped me move from Cave Junction back to Grants Pass nearly a year before.
“What’s this about ‘beat you to a pub’?” I asked Robert as we sipped beer and played a game of pool. We were joined by his girlfriend, Nirvana, and our friend Tim.
Robert responded that every Wednesday, he and our other friends all received their unemployment benefits. The first one to wake up texts the others the location of a chosen pub, and the last to arrive buys the first round of drinks.
This was probably happening all over the place, as the national unemployment rate was at 9.5 percent. Josephine County’s seasonally adjusted rate was at 13.8 percent.
Although it was nice to see my friends again, I was saddened by the whole situation. They had all clearly seen better days. Robert had actually been my manager at the portrait studio in the mall. Now he was reduced to seeking multiple part-time minimum wage jobs just to get by.
We left to go play a round of disc golf at the park. Disc golf is pretty popular in Oregon, and involves tossing Frisbees into baskets. Now unemployed, I could do as I wanted, and I relished the opportunity provided by the nice warm weather.
I also had the time to make multiple donations to Goodwill and took maximum advantage of our last month of trash and recycling service. (more…)