[Marxism] Poconos commuter hell, part 2

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 12 17:56:50 MDT 2004

NY Times, April 12, 2004
Trying to Hang On in the Poconos, From Before Dawn to Way Past Dusk


MOUNT POCONO, Pa. - Dazed with exhaustion, Angela Dean takes a third swipe 
at the snooze bar and then realizes she cannot afford another 10-minute 
reprieve from reality. It is 3:30 a.m., and there is laundry to be done, 
lunches to be made and homework to be checked before she can climb aboard 
the 5:15 bus that carries her to her big city job two states away.

She smears toothpaste on her sons' toothbrushes, changes the water in a 
fishbowl that has turned brown and then trudges into Trenton's bedroom. 
"C'mon ragamuffin child," she says, shaking her whimpering 8-year-old awake 
and pushing him toward the bathroom. Eleven-year-old Michael is less 
compliant, and only the promise of a lollipop gets him out of bed. Half an 
hour later, the boys are bundled into the car and Ms. Dean is driving like 
mad to the home of a baby sitter. "Pay attention in class," she calls to 
Trenton before heading down the mountain.

With a minute to spare, Ms. Dean boards the bus and nods to the bleary-eyed 
club of commuters. As the bus rumbles past the darkened windows of strip 
malls and half-finished homes, Ms. Dean unfolds a blanket, tries to apply 
makeup and gives in to slumber. By the time it crosses the Pennsylvania-New 
Jersey border, the 5:15 has become a rolling dormitory, the whoosh of 
hydraulic brakes mingling with an orchestra of snores.

Nearly three hours later, after the usual crush at the Lincoln Tunnel, the 
bus emerges into Midtown, and Ms. Dean, 38, a labor investigator for New 
York State, fixes her hair and offers a bitter assessment of her life. "I 
spend more time with these people than I do with my own family," she says, 
stuffing the blanket into her bag.

Ms. Dean is a weary soldier in a growing legion of teachers, subway 
conductors and executive secretaries, 17,000 strong, who make the voyage 
each day from the forested Pocono highlands to the steel escarpments of 
Manhattan. Largely black and Latino, urban refugees from places like 
Newark, Brooklyn and Queens, they come here for the schools, the trees and 
the $140,000 starter homes, seeking what generations of middle-class 
strivers have always sought. With Long Island, Westchester and suburban New 
Jersey beyond their means, more than 44,000 arrived in the 1990's.

But this mass westward migration has also had a dark side. Since 1995, more 
than one in five households with mortgages in Monroe County, Pa., have 
stumbled into foreclosure proceedings, their credit ruined, their family 
life in tatters.

Some simply misjudged the financial and physical strain of commuting or the 
cost of heating a home through the bitter Pocono winters. Others 
overstretched budgets, leaving themselves vulnerable to unforeseen expenses 
or an unexpected pink slip. Hundreds more, perhaps thousands, fell victim 
to misleading real estate deals that saddled them with overpriced houses 
they could neither refinance nor sell.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/12/nyregion/12pocono.html

Louis Proyect
Marxism list: www.marxmail.org 

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