'I don't have anything'

stresses poor ruben jones

Ruben Jones
Age: 54
Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Ruben has worked as a cook at the Golden Corral restaurant chain for more than five years, and still only earns $8 per hour.

He has been living with his mother because he can't afford a place on his own. But now she is about to move into an assisted living facility so he has no idea where he will go.

His job is in Maryland, so he takes the bus from D.C. every day. The last train home leaves at 11:24 p.m., so on nights when he works later than 11:30 p.m. he walks two hours home because he can't afford a cab.

He says he's scared to ask for a raise because he's worried that they will let him go and find someone else willing to take the low wage.

Another problem: he doesn't get any paid time off. So when he found out he needed surgery on his neck due to a dislocated disc last month, he had to take three weeks of unpaid leave -- only adding to the stress of his current financial situation.

What's your biggest stress? "Not having anything I can say is my own -- I'm a grown man and don't have anything. I have to live with my mother. And not getting to see my grandchildren because I can't even afford a train or bus ticket to see them. At night it's hard to sleep because I have so many things on my mind and am so stressed out but can't do anything about it."

What keeps you going? "I pray every night for a better life, for everything that everyone else has, for a peace of mind -- I say, 'please let me wake up in the morning smiling because everything is okay.'"

First published June 24, 2014: 10:55 AM ET

Partner Offers

Find Homes For Sale

Most Popular