Wheels Within Wheels

Canvassing. Jobs. Day Labor. Off the Grid.

Fearlessly knocking on doors in the nearby maritime industry, canvassing about the harbor for a part time job, I found I could not land anything. I thought I might find something washing boats, or something to do with dock and wharf maintenance, but with no connections, references, or background, even washing dishes or sweeping floors seemed out of reach. Having no access to independent transportation didn’t help. I learned from a Bunkroom guest, Cajetan, at Hotel Julian, in conversation on the rooftop one night, of stretches of sidewalk in Los Angeles where one might stand mornings in the hopes of being picked up for some temporary work need – no questions asked. One got paid under the table in cash. The jobs were usually for day laborers, but anything was possible. The stretch of sidewalk might change location though, and one had to stay in touch somehow with the informal system that fed the enterprise. According to Cajetan, living entirely off the grid was impossible. There were grids within grids, he explained, systems within systems, wheels within wheels. Every turning of one wheel turned another. Attempts to escape systems often led to spider web crisscrossing entrapments in systems themselves located off the grid. One might hide, but no one was independent.

“Wheels Within Wheels”
is episode 25 of
Ball Lightning
a Novel in Progress
in Serial Format at The Coming of the Toads.
(Click link for continuous, one page view of all episodes.)