Chapter Fifteen: Presidents Day

Presidents Day was cloudy and cold in Nashua. Steve and Yesenia were visiting Jennifer at her apartment. Yesenia showed Jennifer some photos. “This is my quinceañero, back in October. This is my mom. Here’s another picture, of me with Dad’s family in the Dominican Republic last year.”

“So how’s your new boyfriend, Tony?” Steve asked Jennifer.

“He’s not my boyfriend.” Jennifer said. “It’s just a temporary situation. But, since you asked, he got hired at the factory where Labor Ready sent him. He passed the drug test. He started there last week, making ten fifty an hour. This coming Friday, he gets his first paycheck from there. I’m proud.”

Steve said, “I thought they had to wait, like three months or something, before they could hire temps. That’s what Andy once told me.”

Jennifer explained, “Most temp agencies work that way, but not Labor Ready. There’s no waiting period and no fee. Labor Ready just wants to be notified first, so there’s no question whose insurance applies if there’s an accident.” Then she went on, “Would you two care for a beer?”

Steve replied. “No thanks. I don’t want to drink in front of Yesenia, when she can’t have one.”

Jennifer said, “Oh? Has Yesenia learned her lesson about alcohol?”

Steve broke the news. “Actually, that’s not it. She can’t drink any alcoholic beverages for the next few months, because she’s pregnant.”

Jennifer’s jaw dropped, and her eyes widened. Yesenia nodded and said, “It’s true. I’m having, …or should I say, we’re having a baby in September.”

Steve taunted, “And did she tell you about her new boyfriend, Kevin?”

Yesenia protested, “Will you cut that out! I’m just trying to help the guy out, and help him find somebody. We chat on the phone. He’s not even my type.”

Steve continued, “And when are you two going to get married?”

Jennifer interrupted. “Look, Steve, the last thing she needs right now is trouble in her relationship with you. That’s no way to treat the girl who is having your baby. But she’s doing something very important, helping a guy who doesn’t have a girlfriend, giving him advice and maybe fixing him up with somebody. Look what happened to Andy.”

Steve replied, “Andy was twenty-two years old. Kevin is fifteen. It’s not like Kevin is going through the same thing.”

Jennifer looked Steve in the eye and said, “Steve, let me tell you something. On 10 February 1999, a fifteen-year-old student from Nashua High School shot himself in the head in Hollis. He had just broken up with his ex-girlfriend and was in a new school, where he wasn’t having any luck finding her successor.”

Steve asked, “And you figure that’s why he did it?”

Yesenia interrupted, “Check the calendar, Steve, and see if there was any special, important day about to happen. Let’s see now, Sherlock, why would a guy who doesn’t have a girlfriend be despondent on the tenth of February? Gee, I don’t know! Why don’t we take a walk through a shopping mall some time on the tenth of February and see if we can spot anything that might be kind of depressing to somebody who is on his own. Like, duh.”

Steve suggested, “What they need is a dating service for kids our age.”

Jennifer said, “The problem is, there are too many up-tight people out there. Like, it’s positively scandalous, a seventeen-year-old boy taking his seventeen-year-old girlfriend to the movies! Worse, he turns eighteen before she does, and this dirty old man, a grown man eighteen years old, continues an affair with a seventeen-year-old, underage minor! Good Heavens, call the police! Worse than that, he’s taking her to the theater in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts, across the State line! And when they turn the lights down low in that theater, they’re gonna kiss! Oh, somebody call the F.B.I! So, until Operation U.S.A. Freedom gets that straightened out, I think Yesenia has the right idea. Unofficially help people get fixed up.”

Steve said, “Speaking of Operation U.S.A. Freedom, I hear there’s going to be a lot more jobs in New Hampshire now.”

Jennifer explained, “There’s no more zoning restrictions. Developers are planning a lot more demolition and construction. That will bring more jobs. Also, people can start small businesses in their homes. Before, only people with lots of starting capital could open a business. A lot of absurd restrictions are gone, now, too.”

Steve asked, “Like, what?”

Jennifer said, “Well, I remember when I used to work the overnight shift at Wal-Mart. They had to make an announcement at 23:00 every night, telling people under eighteen that they had to punch out and leave. The idea was, they had to be able to get up in the morning, and go to school, so they could get an education, and earn a living. Of course, they already had a job at Wal-Mart, and they were already earning a living.”

Steve replied, “Yeah, but that’s a job working overnight at Wal-Mart.”

Jennifer said, “It was good enough for me. It’s good enough for them. The government wanted them in the government-run indoctrination centers, where they could learn all about the imaginary numbers in the math book, instead of working at their jobs, learning all about the real numbers on their paychecks.”

Yesenia joined in. “My dad is setting up a new business at home.” she told Jennifer. “He may be able to give Steve a job there, too. He’s going to run a money transfer service for people sending money to family members in places like the Dominican Republic. Before, a lot of government regulations prevented people from doing this. He has money in the bank in the Dominican Republic, and he’s going to receive money orders in the mail at home in Manchester. Then he’s going to accept the money orders, and transfer the corresponding amount of pesos from his account in the Dominican Republic to the bank account of the payee. Instead of getting their money in cash, delivered at home, they get it in the form of a direct deposit.”

“That sounds like an excellent idea.” Jennifer said.

Yesenia explained, “I’m helping him learn about the computer stuff, because he has to log onto the bank’s server to transfer the money. He also has to sell the dollars for pesos, and to do that, he needs to find the best rate for electronic funds transfers. He’s going to charge one dollar per transaction, and also profit from the difference between the wholesale rate he gets and the retail rate the customer gets. As he turns profit, he can plow it back into the business, and expand to offer service to more countries.”

Jennifer asked, “Will he get a better exchange rate when he transfers larger amounts on his wholesale transactions?”

Yesenia replied, “Not necessarily. The idea is to work with the retailers in the Dominican Republic, the ones that need U.S. dollars to settle their import invoices, so he can provide them with the dollars they need, instead of their having to go to the bank. By selling direct to the buyer, he can cut the bank out of the middle. A by-product of this is that he can transfer U.S. dollars from his account here in New Hampshire to the U.S. dollar account of the supplier, to settle the invoices. The retailer doesn’t need to buy a check and mail it.”

Jennifer said, “You know, Steve, you’re going to need to continue your education. The city is selling Manchester South High School this summer, and most likely, whoever buys it will be buying it to run a school. Probably a lot of the staff will be hired there. There’s going to be a lot more educational opportunities, when the government-run indoctrination centers aren’t preventing them from thriving. I mean, Manchester South High School is about one hundred percent subsidized with stolen money, and not many legitimate schools can compete with that. What this means is that you’ll be able to take the business courses you need. You’re a father, and you need to support your new family.”

Steve said, “I hear college is going to be very different now. Kids were spending five hours a day studying and then eight hours drinking. Now, they’re going to be spending five hours studying and eight hours working, to support themselves and pay their way through college. The State government was really just subsidizing drinking.”

“They’re also going to be breaking the courses down more.” Jennifer said. “Students will be paying their dormitory rent and tuition one month at a time, and the courses will be one month long. They earn the money during the month working their jobs, to pay for the next month. Course credits will be adjusted, of course.”

Jennifer continued, “One more thing you can look forward to, Steve, is much lower rent. There’s no more zoning restrictions. There will be no artificial limits on construction, so rents and house prices will plunge to their natural levels. Some apartments are going to be built without parking, so people without cars can save a lot, too. The increased population density will be good news for the bus lines, too, because it means more people waiting at each bus stop.”

Steve observed, “Maybe it won’t be long before there’s work, school, and home all on the same block. If there’s no zoning restrictions, then a school can set up, and provide housing, and businesses can open nearby. This gets rid of the mentality that says, ‘Let’s spread everything far apart and make it impossible to get anywhere without a car.’”

Jennifer replied, “The big oil companies won’t like that. People won’t need cars. Heating costs will be lower, because apartments can have a heated apartment above, and below, and left, and right, and face a heated hallway, leaving only one side exposed to the cold. A single-family house is exposed to the cold on all sides except the ground, and that raises each family’s heating costs.”

Yesenia asked, “What if somebody sets up a school, and they’re not really qualified?”

Jennifer explained, “That’s something prospective students would need to check. Is the school accredited? But if you’re running a school, would you rather hire qualified teachers, or unqualified ones? If you start your own school, would you want to teach something you know about, or something about which you know nothing? It’s pretty tough with technology courses, because the material changes so fast.”

Steve joked, “Satan set up some schools, and the State said he wasn’t qualified to run them, because he was not in full possession of his faculties.”

Jennifer said, “Steve, getting a decent education and a decent job is all the more important now that the government welfare programs are being eliminated. The government isn’t going to keep paying people not to work. Before, the government was forbidding people to open businesses in residential areas. Some people would rather pay welfare taxes to support somebody without a job, than let the person open a tailor shop in their neighborhood. Now, things are different. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Billy Americano and the other Freedom Fighters for forcing the government to stop violating people’s rights. Now, you need to save up your money as a cash reserve. Don’t count on Yesenia’s folks to help you out. What if they run into problems? They may need to turn to you someday.”


Copyright © 2004 Tom Alciere