At 67, William Bostick remembers what it was like to hustle. Before becoming an operating engineer, if Bostick and his friends needed extra cash, they picked up odd jobs. Today, Bostick said he barely sees any hustling: He only sees open hands.
“I wake up in the morning and say, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ and they respond, ‘I’m doing all right. You got a quarter? You got a dollar?’” said Bostick, standing in a pair of rubber boots as he washed a car at 15th Street and Susquehanna Avenue. Though Bostick is retired and receives pension checks, he still washes cars to keep busy.
“When I was growing up we always had to hustle,” he said. “We shined shoes. We did something.”
Since the recession has led to a barren job market, Bostick said the skills most have cannot be applied to specific trades, leading to drug dealing and begging.
“All they do now is they go out on the corner, do what they do and get locked up,” Bostick said. “They don’t know anything else to do. They go to school, take up a trade and then can’t find a job.”
And though Bostick points to government action to provide jobs – “They can create a war, I’m sure they can create jobs” – he said too much government help is part of why everyone remains unmotivated.
“When there were jobs out there, people were able to lean on free money,” he said, referring to welfare. “But now there aren’t any jobs, and there isn’t a lot of free money.”
“The government can throw a few crumbs out there, and the next day people will eat those crumbs,” he added. “But the next day, they’ll be right back.”
Ashley Nguyen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.