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Tue Oct 27, 2020, 10:05 AM

Waiting for the Help That Was Promised in Eastern Kentucky [View all]

The stimulus checks are gone, and unemployment claims remain unprocessed. The Jaynes family is holding on to half a tank of gas and a dollar-fifty in change.

By Oliver Whang

October 27, 2020

Robin Jaynes, who’s forty-five, was born and raised in Magoffin County, in eastern Kentucky. Not quite a decade ago, her third husband, Tim, was forced to retire, and Robin, who spent much of her twenties and thirties raising six children, began looking for a job. Tim grew up at the head of a holler in neighboring Johnson County, near the West Virginia border, and served for fifteen years in the Army, until he was honorably discharged, in 1993, after developing a tremor, and he went to work at Family Dollar. He started seeing Robin ten years later, and they had a son, Timmy, in 2006. After eighteen years of twelve- and thirteen-hour workdays, Tim had a minor heart attack on the job, in 2011, the culmination of medical problems—high blood pressure, high cholesterol—that had dogged him for years. A doctor recommended that he apply for disability and supplemental security income (S.S.I.), which he did, reluctantly. “I liked working,” he told me. “I worked there until literally they had to call an ambulance and take me out. That’s when I had to give it up, and then she started,” he said, referring to his wife.

Robin worked at fast-food places for a while, Burger King and K.F.C. and Wendy’s. The customers were often rude, she said, but those jobs paid the rent for the family’s subsidized three-bedroom apartment. By 2016, her three oldest children had moved out, and Robin decided that she and Tim and the three younger kids should move to a two-bedroom place owned by the Highland Church of Christ in Paintsville, which would save them eighty dollars a month. Robin became a member of the church, though she worked too much to get to services often. The apartment, she told me, was a little small for two parents and three kids, “but we got them a bunk bed set, and the oldest one had a twin-sized bed, so it worked out.” She took a job as a cashier at Dollar General, which paid her seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour. She worked her way up to assistant manager, organizing the shelves and handling customers and making sure the two cash registers didn’t break down the way they used to. Her hourly pay went up to ten dollars and ten cents. Tim’s total fixed income usually amounted to eight hundred dollars a month.

Last year, the Jayneses moved to Indiana to be closer to Robin’s mother’s side of the family, but they returned shortly after having a fight with her brother. The church rented their apartment back to them, at the same rate, but all the moving had used up the family savings, and they fell behind on rent. Robin returned to Dollar General and started paying off the debt, which had grown to a couple thousand dollars, little by little. Standing all day can be difficult for Robin, who has asthma and the beginnings of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. She usually worked between forty and fifty hours a week.


McConnell should be losing in the polls, he is as evil as Trump.

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Reply Waiting for the Help That Was Promised in Eastern Kentucky [View all]
BeckyDem Oct 2020 OP
bottomofthehill Oct 2020 #1
blueinredohio Oct 2020 #2
BeckyDem Oct 2020 #3
Ohiogal Oct 2020 #4
BeckyDem Oct 2020 #7
roamer65 Oct 2020 #5
Roland99 Oct 2020 #6
BeckyDem Oct 2020 #8