As you motion through a week of life in Bushwick 2014, you may have recently begun to notice something peculiar about the people in various hotspots handing you your coffee, food, and alcohol. “God, everyone is really starting to look the same around here,” you think to yourself. This is likely because many of these service industry servants are the same people, snatching up as many jobs as they can in a desperate attempt to supplement their income as they are intent on maintaining a Bushwick living status. Studies show that due to increasing rent in Bushwick, one must be bringing in the income of at least 3 1/2 minimum wage or service level jobs to survive in the neighborhood. While some still manage to effortlessly achieve a lush existence around here thanks to certain investors, the overworked and underpaid appear to be the Bushwick majority.
One Jack of All Trades is local barista/bartender/busboy/bar-back, Joseph Renaldo. Joseph Renaldo has been a proud Bushwick denizen since 2008, an era which can now be seen as nothing short of ancient. After several years of rent hikes, Renaldo has found himself juggling four jobs just to make ends meet. “I’ve been working as a busboy at Bushwick’s Living Room and bar-tending at Pearls for some time now. My rent has, quite recently, swelled up to $1,200 for just my portion in a lofted apartment shared by five others. About a month ago, I picked up a job bar-backing at that new tit-themed bar, but when I realized that it still wasn’t cutting it, I took a job offer from a friend at Little Skips. Despite enduring a seventy hour work week, I’m finally making just enough to pay my bills, although my food budget is still a little tight. Fortunately, I get free food when I work over at the Living Room. As far as a social life goes, it’s almost like I’m hanging out with my friends who earn salary incomes when I see them laughing, shit-hammered on the other side of the bar as I continue to work tirelessly. It’s just the price one has to pay, I suppose.” Renaldo ended releasing a big sigh, his face depleted of all expression in a blatant state of fatigue.
Many of us try as we might, but how long before we cease to maintain endurance of such peasantry?
Written by Nicole Benson