10 Stories From The Cold, Hard Streets Of America That Will Break Your Heart

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

If the economy is really "getting better", then why have millions upon millions of formerly middle class Americans been pushed to the point of utter despair?  The stories that you are about to read are absolutely heartbreaking.  I don't know how anyone can read them without getting chills.  In America today, if you lose a good job, there is a good chance that you will get back on your feet before too long.  But there is also a good chance that you won't be able to find a decent job and will plunge into the abyss of depression and desperation that so many millions of other Americans have fallen into.

As I wrote about earlier this month, the U.S. economy is definitely not getting any better.  For example, if you assume that the percentage of Americans that want to work is about at the long term average, then the official unemployment rate in the United States would be above 11 percent.  And compared to six years ago, 1,154,000 fewer Americans are working today even though our population has gotten significantly larger since then.  Behind all of these numbers are real flesh and blood people, and you are about to hear from some of them. 

The following are 10 stories from the cold, hard streets of America that will break your heart...

#1 A 34-year-old man named Rocco...

"While my wife goes to work, I’ve been staying at home to conserve fuel. I’ve been losing weight from eating less, so my family has more on their plates. It feels like the government and big business expect more and more while trying to give back as little as possible. Soon my internet connection will be shut off and since most companies don’t offer paper applications, how will I find work then? Walking around for miles a day, asking for an application that may or may not be available?"

#2 Homeless people wasting away in "Obamavilles" on the outskirts of Baltimore, Maryland...

A sheet of plastic laid over a clothesline. A mini-fortress of milk crates stacked under a tree. A thin mattress on a flimsy crate lying in a dark tunnel.

On the edge of Baltimore's woodlands, dozens of the city's transients live in makeshift homes which they consider safer than homeless shelters.

You can see some incredible photos of how these homeless people are living right here.

#3 A 50-year-old woman in Pennsylvania named Karen...

"My husband only makes 10 dollars an hour and drives 30 miles round trip, so it’s taking all we have just to keep the Jeep filled with gas. We stopped going to church and all to save gas. We are homebodies now, afraid to use what gas we have. We save two kids from getting put in foster care just to be hit like this. It’s just a constant trap they try to keep you from receiving any help! I’m so disgusted when my 12-year-old asks me why we don’t have snacks anymore, or why are we eating so much rice, etc."

#4 The following is an excerpt from a comment that was recently left by one of my readers...

"I live right at ground zero. South West Virginia and let me tell you things are bad and getting worse by the day. We don't do drugs but have family members hooked on meth and or pills or both. Many of these pills are prescribed by local doctors either Suboxone to get you off the opiates, a total joke by the way and tons of Xanax why would anyone need 120 Xanax a month how can you even be expected to function. These pills get traded for cash sex and other items, same goes for the SNAP cards. We have family members going to jail repeatedly for the same crimes making meth, selling pills and stealing anything that's not nailed down. People who are 30 years old look like they are 55 years old. The jobs here are awful walmat, gas stations, fast food etc. Most of our whole county is on the government dole."

#5 A 55-year-old man from California named Randy Carpadus...

"I was working as a firefighter for the state of California and was laid off in April 2012, right at the beginning of fire season. At my age, I'm not going to be picked up by another fire department. They want younger guys.


I've applied for everything from truck driver, to sales, to nonprofit work. I've sent out almost 400 resumes, and I've gotten nothing. I've done whatever I could to make ends meet.


Through some connections, I got a temp job as a truck driver in Napa Valley -- a 3-hour commute from where I live. I lived in my car and worked during grape harvest."

#6 In this tough economic environment, debt collectors are becoming even more aggressive.  Just check out the kind of harassment that one woman named Jennifer Posey has been put through...

"This is Jimmy Lee calling from CheckCare. Just letting you know we're in full force," he said. The man had a thick Southern accent that stretched the word "you" into a two-syllable accusation. "We're going to have warrants out for your arrest in Columbus, Ga.," the man threatened. "We know you have an apartment on the canal in Clearwater."


It was when he mentioned her home in Florida that Posey began to feel anxious. "We're hurting you," he continued. "We're hurting your family, your son's family, your cousin's family. Whatever we can do to get you to pay."


Forty minutes later, her phone rang again. "What about that 12-, 13-year-old child you're trying to raise?" the voice sneered.

#7 A 50-year-old woman from New York named Sharon Ritchie...

"I am constantly told I am 'overqualified.' I've also been told to dumb down my resume, but I can't just erase 30 years of experience.

You can only stand the word 'no' so many times. There are times that I cry at night wondering what happened, and at times I have thought about suicide.


But, I keep on going, hoping the cycle will break."

#8 In response to my recent article about Appalachia, a reader named Rob shared the following...

"I am from rural south central KY (Brodhead, Rockcastle County) and I can tell you that most of the things described above are exactly how it is here. There are so many people on drugs it's crazy. First it was the meth, which was more of a problem back in 2002-2007, then the pain pills really started becoming a huge problem, OxyContin and perc 30's (roxicet) obtained from Florida and Georgia doctors. The pain pills are something that you can't just walk away from after doing them for a while; they cause people to steal from family, sell everything they own, and/or prostitute themselves in order to avoid opiate withdrawal."

#9 A 30-year-old man from California named Alejandro...

"I need to provide for my son who is diagnosed with autism and my baby girl. I’ve sold a bunch of my belongings to try and put food on the table, to buy clothes for my kids, to pay rent and utilities and to put gas in my vehicle to go job hunting. Not having money for necessities takes a toll on my mind. Depression has kicked in. It really takes a toll on one’s self-esteem and confidence to move forward.I’ve applied to countless amounts of jobs, only to not even get a call back. I’ve gone from construction site to construction site, only to be told they are not hiring. Finally, I got at least a positive call back from a company telling me they will call me to work in a couple of weeks. I am crossing my fingers and praying. There are millions of people in my situation or even worse."

#10 An excerpt from a heartbreaking letter that an unemployed woman named Paula Bray sent to Barack Obama...

Dear Mr. President,


I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment -- 16 hours each week at $12 per hour -- but I don't work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn't include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.


This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn't freeze -- if it freezes, we use the campground's restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it's cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV. We don't have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn't working for us. We don't have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it's freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

Sadly, this is just the beginning.

The economic despair that we are witnessing right now is just a taste of the horrible economic nightmare that is going to unfold in the United States during the coming years.

And already there are signs that things are starting to take another turn for the worse.  In recent months, we have seen a whole host of retail chains announce store closings.  In fact, one of my readers wrote to me the other day and told me about a home appliance chain known as "American TV" that is going out of business in the Midwest.  When these stores shut down, close to another 1000 Americans will soon be out of work...

“While this is a sad moment it is also a proud moment. It’s a moment to be proud of our efforts and to be proud of what we have delivered to the community”, said Doug Reuhl, President and CEO of American since 1988. “Words cannot adequately express how grateful we are to our millions of loyal customers, and to the incredible, dedicated family of employees that we have been blessed with over our 60 years of business”.


Advanced notice of the business closing has been given to the 989 employees affected in eleven locations. Employees will be compensated, with benefits, through the notification period, and the majority will continue employment through the closing process.

But if you listen to the mainstream media, you would think that happy days are here again for America.  Just check out some of the bizarre headlines that I have collected in recent weeks...

CNBC: "Stop whining! The US economy is in good shape"

USA Today: "Economists: U.S. will see better growth in '14"

Newsday: "Why the economy isn't doomed"

Most Americans will buy into this propaganda and will never see the next major economic crisis coming until it is too late to do anything about it.

So what do you think about all of this?

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Looney's picture

Eternal struggle - Yeast vs. Vest!

MainSprinkleMedia vs. ________


Skateboarder's picture

Snyder should start his own virtual cryptocurrency: Doomcoin.

walküre's picture

What is Snyder's agenda? What is he trying to sell or is he genuinely pure and honest in his reporting of these obvious facts about American society 2014?

IT SUCKS OUT THERE for a very large part of the population who is being screwed over again and again.

fonzannoon's picture

He sells fear. He profits from it. End of story.

SMG's picture

Bull Hockey,  He is just speaking the truth.

Between Obamacare, horrible trade agreements, a system designed to make everyone a debt slave, inflation that is much higher than reported, wages that are declining, and automation. THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH JOBS OUT THERE! 10,000 people apply for about 90 positions at an In-and-out burger!!! All this while the Elite laught at us.


If we don't wake up and change something, this fate awaits far too many of us, even those who are well off now.  It's alot easier to fight from your feet than on your knees.

By the way you wouldn't know anything about this right?



fonzannoon's picture

"If we don't wake up and change something, this fate awaits far too many of us, even those who are well off now"

I offered up a suggestion below. What is Snyder offering?

jbvtme's picture

they will not even make good protein for the mother ship. get the hook.

J 457's picture

You must be living in a real poor area.

SMG's picture

Actually I live in N Texas which is "supposedly" doing well.  God, I can only imagine what it is like in areas of the country that aren't.

Chuck Walla's picture

At least all these folks have FREE HEALTH CARE!! THANKS, BARACK!

Think of all the extra family time they have now!



bonderøven-farm ass's picture

These are just the first casualties of the woar on America.  More will continue to fill the impoverished ranks & cheerlead their favorite teams on the hill; remaining none the wiser.

When the food gets scarce the revolts will begin.  Until then, bask in your partisan servitude.


nevadan's picture

Speaking of doom coins, I just stumbled on these today.  not virtual but...



J 457's picture

There have always been the have's and have-not's in America since the beginning.  Not everywhere is as dire as this article would like you to think. I was traveling from my home in Northern Cal last Tues and Wed to Scottsdale AZ.  It's Tuesday night at 8:30 pm and I'm leaving a restraunt with a line of people waiting out the door to be seated- the place was packed- and it's an expensive menu.  Not everyone is living under a plastic tarp in thier old motor home by some roadside reststop.  This author has another agenda (still unknown to me)and needs to get some more balanced perspective.

TuPhat's picture

That's part of the problem.  There is no balance.

ThirdWorldNut's picture

I'd say that is part of the problem - no habit of savings. Sure, life can hit you in the face in more ways than one can count and surely enough there are so many things outside one's control. With that disclaimer, it astounds me to see the saving habits of people in the West. People hate to save, its almost unheard of. Cut their veins and instead of blood, you will see consumerism. People borrow on credit cards to buy stuff thats cool and pay 20%+ interest on it! Insanity. Bush said buying junk is a patriotic duty, he actually meant paying 20% interest and being a debt slave is your duty. And guess what, sheeple complied. 

Hard to feel bad for those who could have avoided disaster by simply saving money for a rainy day.

Jumbotron's picture

Don't let the City Council of Columbia South Carolina read this.

The Gooch's picture

I just wrote them en masse.

Gonna have to follow up with the bastards.

Chupacabra-322's picture

Miss South Carolina Graham needs a swift kick in her CUNT!

Buck Johnson's picture

I totally agree with the article, this is just a sample of the future that is coming and it will be nasty.

Dr. Engali's picture

Ugh I'm tired of lists.

fonzannoon's picture

and I'm tired of this dirty whore ringing the register by putting out these pieces constantly. He is truly a piece of shit.

NoDebt's picture

I decided to do something different this evening.  Just couldn't stand marching in the shit-parade again tonight.  Typed up something out of my usual snarky, sarcastic character, below.  Comes from a different side of my life I don't talk much about on ZH.  For what it's worth.

chindit13's picture

I see you turning, fonz. Walking your own path. I could quote the famous line from Shawshank Redemption, but I’ll refrain. You don’t need it.

You are breaking free of the addiction. You are distancing yourself from the pack, which around here is either the 'woe is all' crowd or the naval gazing crowd as led by a certain Contributor.

Lame Stream Media is all bad. Streaming Lame Media (of the internet) is all good…because it’s all about bad. Doomporn. Blog Noir. Got to get a daily fix. Make that hourly. Can’t wait a whole hour? Then you need some Michael Snyder.

Does Mikey have a solution, or is it just all about the gloom? Well, actually Mikey will offer you a solution, but it may not be the one you want. Here’s Mikey: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Michael_Snyder

Can you imagine, if Mikey is correct, that “paradise” is filled with people like him? No thanks. Becoming worm food is eternally more appealing.

Is there anything the “awake” people don’t already know? I don’t think so. In fact, they “know” so much that (from what I read around here regarding conspiracies, uber mensch machinations, and hidden hands) a good deal of what they know is wrong.

But it satisfies. At least temporarily. Misery not only loves company, it loves more misery. That’s what addiction is all about.

Yes, life sucks then you die. So what? Wallowing makes it better? For some, I guess it does. For others---those who turn, those who break away---it does not.

Franz Kafka said that the meaning of life is that it ends. Can’t make it any more simple than that. For those who don’t like Kafka, or might hold his ethnicity against him, how about the King behind Shawshank? Get busy living, or…..

fonzannoon's picture

"Yet, he simply refuses to even address or acknowledge that he has been wrong thousands of times, especially if you count each numbered item of his massive lists. He seems to have explosive diarrhea of the mind that no amount of logic can slow or stop."

Thanks for the kind words Chindit, and the reality checks along the way, 

UselessEater's picture

thanks chindit insightful post

the article still magnifies why we are pissed off with the alphabet NGO's (IMF WTO etc) and governments for F.Up policies; we're pissed off because we know this is the result even though those of us willing to see the writing on the wall are preparing the best we can....we do not know if this is our freeking future despite working, researching, saving, planning and putting up with petty BS in the hopes of making the family unit stronger so we can actually stay-busy-living but with compromises we didn't anticipate nor invite.

the hardest part is not finding misery companions but like minded action-oriented companions that are thinking all this shite through and doing something in their own fashion to prepare and/or regain some kind of independance. Discussing ideas with a can-do mob is more engerising than a pity-party mob (even though justified).

too much of the can-do mob is about cans, guns, gold and whining......I want to live life on my terms -I'll take steps to try and minimise the chess match we're stuck in; but one my terms - free mind, free spirit and, sigh, excessive time on the net working the game out and how to prepare with meagre resources and flexible resourcefulness - I got another 30 or more years of this crap to manage so I can live a happy life that says FU to TPTB that call me and mine a uselesseater.

Just to piss 'em off.... my family we're gonna stay at gettin' busy living, wake up a couple more souls if we can, and push our screamin family into a safer reality (relatives in my experience belatedly use the foundations laid for them -jesus even my family in Zimbabwe took a decade or two to get moving tick-toooock-tiiiick-tooooooooock).


F-Tipp's picture

Thanks Chindit.

I think I've started to come around to this way of perceiving things. I've found that through all the terrible truth regarding the present order, there are still a few timeless ones that keep me going - do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The great religious leaders/philosophers had something there.

Disenchanted's picture

I nominate chindik13 as top ZH forum quisling.

He always steps up to defend the failed status quo.


Everything he knows is of course right. Do not question the 'authorities' and their pronouncements or you will be branded a conspiracist.

This is not to defend the Mike 'only Jesus can save you now' Snyders of the world.

sunaJ's picture

Yes. Mike Snyder:  the king of anecdotal (at best) evidence and disconnected lists delivered as bullet-point "signs" to feed a confirmation bias.  I've seen him get as high as 35, I believe.  I do find the making of lists as he does quite peculiar, if not irritating.  I have noticed some websites like alternet.org or slate.com don't seem to be able to write any articles at all unless they have at least 15 points they wish to regurgitate in hopes of convincing you of something.


max2205's picture

If it's not on ABC news, it's not happening

Omegaman2211's picture

Snyder is such a piece of useless shit.

in4mayshun's picture

And I'm sure so are you. While I admit he's not a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, at least he's trying to do something to wake up some of the sheeple, which I suspect, is more than you're doing.

fonzannoon's picture

what is he doing? How is he awakening any sheeple? You think Sheeple read his blog? Or ZH?

acetinker's picture

Hey fonz, been awhile.  I will say that Mr. Snyder has focused on the negative bits, creating these tiresome lists, for far too long.  Still, the real economy sucks, regardless of the S&P.

That ain't why I replied, though.

Late last week, a young fellow called my shop.  He said he needed some wheel spacers for his '97 Honda Prelude, cos' he had a set of wheels that rubbed the front struts.  He really likes these wheels... and further said he had a set of old rotors that he wanted to cut the hub section out of to use as spacers.

Now, this is shit that I can do, but I usually (always) grimace when an 'average joe' wants me to do something like this.  He seemed sincere, and at least, he had an idea of what he needed.

The reason I grimace is that the average person has no idea the cost of their particular want.  If I quote that thing they want at commercial rates,  I'm an asshole... and I really don't need that reputation.  So, I told him his wheel-spacers-made-from-brake-rotors would cost him 25 bucks each.  That's similar to the hundred dollar 32" flatscreen at Wal-Mart, and he said OK.

So, in conversation I learned that, he is some kind of manager at a local chick-fil-a.  You just don't get hired by chick-fil-a unless you're a die-hard fundamental christian.  Upon leaving, he said, "have a blessed day!"  I'm not anti-christian, mind you... having been raised as such, and don't find fault with this young man.  I either fell from grace, or outgrew the blind faith thingy, depending on your point of view.

Anyway, today my young customer came to pick up his wheel-spacers-made-from-brake-rotors.  He seemed quite pleased.  He asked if I needed part-time help.  He seems genuinely fascinated with me and my stuff.  He completely ignored the open Corona on the workbench.  He seems oblivious to my un-Godly ways.

So, I ask in all honesty... should I call this kid, or is it a waste of time, for either of us?

fonzannoon's picture

trust your instincts, if you are totally unsure, take a chance. just my 2 cents.

wtf1369's picture

If you can use the help I say give him a shot. Worst case, you rub each other wrong and in a week or two you tell him so and part ways.

kito's picture

Wake up the sheeple? At the same time putting the rest of us on here to sleep. Why am I even responding? I'm only encouraging these types of posts....click, read, comment, ca-ching for Tyler.

drendebe10's picture

Y r u here then? Vote w ur mouse. Dont read the lists or post on them. Duh.

lordbyroniv's picture

"Suck it up America" - Charlie Munger

J S Bach's picture

A debt-free money system will set these folks on the path to freedom - as will it all of us.


Never take your eye off the target of evil - usury.


Once this Satanic monetary system is abolished - EVERYONE'S status in life will improve - without exception (except the banksters).

Tapeworm's picture

Yeah Right.

 There are jobs out there that can get one up the ladder even in the rotten dying manufacturing economy.

 I hire on at 8.00/hr while they go through training for three weeks. If they stink they are out. If good they will rapidly advance to 16.00/hr.

 That is for the slobs that sit around and do nothing from age six to age sixteen when they finally drop out of the worthless schools that the goomint serves up. Many are illiterate.

 I have little sympathy for those that are bullet pointed in this article. They had a goomint education served to them at 10k-14k/yr and had the amazing internet all along in the past fifteen years and more. Only a self admitted jagoff can claim that they are ill served by society amd the taxation rackets of public schools.

 The goomint skools are worthless and worse in that they inculcate the notion that the slobs are not to blame for their sloth and ignorance.

 I have zero respect for those that refuse to better themselves by taking a job with fringes that will pay for  remedial education. What is worse is that so few take advantage of truly free education of Khan Academy and the rest.

 These fecks cultivate their uselessness.

 Yeah, and we are supposed to get silly and tell ourselves that these dopes are to be something other than scrap in shit canning the rotten system that leeches the real producers.

 goomint is evil and goomint skools are compounded evil.

TuPhat's picture

I agree with you tapeworm.  Most of Mike's examples are problems with drugs, not the economy.  Some people will find a way to live like animals no matter what kind of opportunities they have.  The economy is bad but a lot of people make their situation worse in their own special ways.

Spungo's picture

Maybe jobs would come back if the government stopped trying to make it illegal to hire anyone for any reason. 

louisianagold's picture

Maybe that is not their plan.

Lin S's picture

Yay, more Michael Snyder fear porn!  Because we here at ZH can just never get enough of his dull, monotonous, bullet-point disaster-lists! 

philipat's picture

Must be an echo in here today?

free_lunch's picture



   I've seen the future and it's murder:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnaxvBsyigM

"The Future"

Give me back my broken night
my mirrored room, my secret life
it's lonely here,
there's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby,
that's an order!
Give me crack and anal sex
Take the only tree that's left
and stuff it up the hole
in your culture
Give me back the Berlin wall
give me Stalin and St Paul
I've seen the future, brother:
it is murder.

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won't be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it has overturned
the order of the soul
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant
When they said REPENT REPENT
I wonder what they meant

You don't know me from the wind
you never will, you never did
I'm the little jew
who wrote the Bible
I've seen the nations rise and fall
I've heard their stories, heard them all
but love's the only engine of survival
Your servant here, he has been told
to say it clear, to say it cold:
It's over, it ain't going
any further
And now the wheels of heaven stop
you feel the devil's riding crop
Get ready for the future:
it is murder

Things are going to slide ...

There'll be the breaking of the ancient
western code
Your private life will suddenly explode
There'll be phantoms
There'll be fires on the road
and the white man dancing
You'll see a woman
hanging upside down
her features covered by her fallen gown
and all the lousy little poets
coming round
tryin' to sound like Charlie Manson
and the white man dancin'

Give me back the Berlin wall
Give me Stalin and St Paul
Give me Christ
or give me Hiroshima
Destroy another fetus now
We don't like children anyhow
I've seen the future, baby:
it is murder

Things are going to slide ...

When they said REPENT REPENT ...