When I picked up NOMADLAND I had no idea what I was getting into. I actually thought it was about retired people just traveling happily across America. WRONG!
This eye-opening new book from journalist Jessica Bruder might have you taking a second glance at that nice couple in the campground. Are they just vacationing or, are they on the move working seasonally anywhere that is hiring?
Many people lost their homes during the great recession. Others lost their jobs. Some lost their nest eggs. Well tens of thousands traded their homes for “wheel estate.”
We follow Linda May aged 64 as she pulls her faded yellow camper named the “Squeeze Inn” across the country working seasonally wherever she can. Bruder kept pace with Linda for three years and 15,000 miles. You can’t help but love Linda’s determined, upbeat, forge- ahead ways. She’s been a cocktail waitress, an insurance executive, and a trucker. She’s not afraid of hard work. And hard work is what she does. She’s been a campground host and worked for Amazon as one of their seasonal workers. Walking miles and miles in ten-hour shifts, it’s back-breaking work. They even have wall-mounted fixtures filled with ibuprofen. The holidays run from October until two days before Christmas.
Grandparents are living in old school buses and vans. Executives lost their money in the crash. Divorce has caused some to lose homes and livelihoods. There are more nomads on the road than you can imagine. We just don’t have the numbers. What we do know is that people have given up living normal lives. They want to be off the grid as much as possible. They are not afraid to work. They just have to find it and go where it shows up.
I found myself humbled by this book. I think most of us take it for granted that we must live in a house or a condo or an apartment. We would never consider giving up everything. But what if we had to?
Many years ago Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an import book called NICKEL AND DIMED. She went undercover and worked menial jobs and then wrote about it One of the places she worked was Key West. Another eye-opener. Check it out.
Immersion journalism. Nice name for important work.
I borrowed my copy of NOMADLAND from the library. I ate it up and licked the plate.