Hello, this is Sam Mackin. We are in the living room of my parents’ house, a normal middle-class house in beautiful Lunenburg. I’ve lived here for a little over a year and a half. It’s a small rural community that’s slowly running out of money. We lose power once a week - I make the joke that we live in New Delhi, that’s about how reliable our power supply is.
I mean, it’s a beautiful area. It’s very picturesque. It’s not that far from the White Mountains and Monadnock. But, for me, it’s rough just because it’s middle of nowhere. Not a lot of young folks. I’m in my late twenties, the majority of the town is older - much older - sixty, sixty five, and older. I don't know. It’s strange for me.
I’m here with my father, Michael Mackin.
Sam: I just wanted to start by asking you, how do you feel about me living here?
Dad: I was very happy to have you come up and live with me and spend time with you. I love having you here, I love you being around here.
Sam: What's the other half of that?
Dad: Well the other half of that is, you know, really wanting to see you move on and into your own life. And I am hoping that is something that can happen soon.
My parents - I mean, they haven’t said this to me specifically - but I know that they don’t really want me here, and I don’t really want to be here either. So that’s basically the middle ground we’ve found, you know? Like, nobody knows what else to do.
Sam: What do you think about my work situation?
Dad: I’m glad that you got the job immediately when you got up here. I’m very proud that you’ve kept a job, which, it wasn’t a career, it wasn't something to feed your soul, but you did it because you needed to take care of that other business.
So, I graduated SUNY Oswego in May of 2009. I was living with my mom in Sloatsburg, New York, and basically spent a summer lightly searching for jobs, but when the fall hit it was like, all right, I really need to find work. And then that turned into basically a year, year and a half, of me working everything, doing whatever.
I had student loans to pay off and just daily monetary stuff that I couldn’t handle because I didn’t have any money. There was one point where I was working two or three part-time jobs, every day was like a different job, mostly restaurant jobs, and it was just bad. I ended up broke and living on my buddy’s couch. It got to a point where I was sinking rather than swimming, so I came up here to straighten everything out.
Sam: What did you imagine I’d be doing with my life right now?
Dad: Well, I had always thought because of your interest in journalism, and particularly your work on the public radio affiliate up at college, that would be a direction that you would want to head for. And, you know, I think that would be great, if that was something that was possible.
My whole thing when I was graduating was I really wanted to become a foreign correspondent. I wanted to travel around and report on happenings throughout the world. But I honestly don’t think that’s ever going to happen. It's too far gone.
At this point I’m just scrambling just to … I mean, I was thinking about the jobs that I’ve interviewed for. I interviewed at a child modeling firm, and that was like, whatever, it’s money, it’s a salary, it’s something, it’s better than nothing. I’ll take whatever.
“I don't like my job, I don't like living at home, I don't like really anything about my situation at all.”
Dad: When I came out of college, if you had a college degree, you could find a job. It might not be what you had gone for, but you’d find a job that would pay the bills. Now, we've got some of the best-educated waiters and bartenders and mall workers in the United States. It's been a very different experience.
Sam: Half the people I know have master's degrees and work two part-time jobs.
Sam: Do you think the difference between my generation and your generation is that we had these large expectations? Like, there was almost a sense of entitlement that we expected to have that stuff, or do you think it was just an economic thing?
Dad: I think it's both. Because this was the expectation that we had given you, which was: Go to college, get your college degree, that's the key to the next thing.
So, yes, in part, it was our expectations and, certainly, the expectations that the era that you grew up in was really one of the most affluent, growing times. The expectation was it never going to stop. The world was good and it was just getting better. And then the economic crisis happened and, you know, the world changed.
The thing that it made me more aware of, when I was talking to my dad, is that he's actually kind of lamenting our generation. I think he gets it. He gets that this was something that was completely out of our hands and that we're all trying to get out of it. We're all working pretty hard. And that makes me happy, to know that he's not angry.
I work at the Bull Run Restaurant. It’s an 18th-century inn. I literally got the job the day I came up. I was so broke my dad had to Western Union me money for a bus ticket and I took a bus from 33rd and Manhattan to South Station. I showed up and applied for the job and they said, "Show up on Wednesday and we’ll try you out." And, you know, apparently the irony is that I’m not a bad worker, so they haven’t gotten rid of me yet.
I do not want to be waiting tables. I don't want to be here. I don't like my job, I don't like living at home, I don't like really anything about my situation at all. And the larger question is: "Well, how did you get here?" And, I don't know. I don't know. You know, I don't want to blame me, but I know that I have to take responsibility. Definitely I choose to be here, in some respect, but it's starting to drive me crazy. I was going to come up here, I was going to live for a year, I was going to find a job, and I was going to move out. And I just haven't found a job.
That's one of the things that terrifies me on a daily basis. That the longer and longer and longer I'm not in a career-oriented field and I'm not doing that work and I'm not establishing myself or building my resume, that time is working against me. And the longer it gets, the harder and harder it's going to be. I just want out of here.