(One of Nashua's "tree streets")
When I told Jennifer that I was talking to people in the neighborhood about the state of the economy and its impact on their lives, her first reaction was to say she couldn’t help since she didn’t know much about it.
After talking with her for a little bit, it became clear that she has some very definite thoughts and opinions on the subject.
Jennifer, who asked that I use just her first name, has two sons, ages five and eight. When I met her, she was watching her five-year-old play in her small yard. He was trying to catch ants to feed to a spider. Since my four-year-old takes great delight in squashing ants, we commiserated a little about the difficulty of discussing empathy with small children.
Jennifer works at a chowder shop in downtown Nashua—full-time in the winter and part-time in the summer. Being a working mother can be difficult, she said, mostly because she misses the time with the kids and feels bad about limiting their time with her.
Jennifer’s boyfriend was injured in an accident and he’s trying to get workers’ comp. For now, he’s not working, which means he can take care of the kids when Jennifer’s at work.
She said she’s happy about that—she likes the idea that they’re with someone trustworthy, and she knows they have a great time playing games with him. She’s also happy the boys are no longer at a child care program in town, where she says they weren’t supervised well enough and ended up getting hit by other kids.
Like Felicia and David, Jennifer lives on one of Nashua’s tree streets. She says she’s lived in the neighborhood for just about her whole life, and she thinks it’s getting worse—more dangerous. She’s planning to leave after the kids finish one more year of school.
In the meantime, she gets by with the help of child support from her ex-husband and some government assistance.
Jennifer says she finds it absurd that the government is putting so much energy into looking after the same corporations that helped tank the economy. But she doesn’t vote.
“I choose not to vote due to the fact that it’s not my choice who’s going in,” she said.
In the 2008 primary, she said, she didn’t particularly care for either Clinton or Obama. What she’d like to see is a candidate who hasn’t spent years as a professional politician—“a regular person, from a poor background.”
For herself, Jennifer hopes to finish her education and become a registered nurse. She’d like to make enough money that her family could get a home of its own.
Even at a distance from that goal, though, she can’t complain too much.
“There’s a whole lot of people worse off than me,” she said.