Maurice Royal, 32

I’m an artist at heart, a cartoonist. I just need a chance.

I was working at two different Burger Kings in New York, a total of about 20 hours, but then they cut me to one and it was just too much effort at those prices – those 10 hours at $8 an hour would not pay for an apartment…

I’ve been staying at a men’s shelter on the Bowery. I did try to stay with my cousin at my grandfather’s apartment in Harlem in public housing – he was staying with a girlfriend at the time – but it did not work out. My cousin would party a bit and word got out to the housing people and they said it was against the rules for us to be staying there. So I ended up at the men’s shelter, and I’m trying to hold onto a bit of money to get an apartment.

It’s not bad in the shelter. There are rules, of course, and a curfew. You have to be in by 10 p.m., and you have to be looking for a job. That’s fine, I’m happy that they want to help, and I do a bit of custodial work for the shelter in return for staying there. But there is a time limit. And I’m coming up against it.

I may have to go to Pennsylvania where my girlfriend has a job in hotel reception. She thinks she can find me work there at the hotel.

maurice

But I really want to try my art work. I can draw, as you can see, and it is fun to work with other people on what our ideas should be to tell the story of fast food workers. You can see how you can create a story as a graphic.  It is hard to share working with others, though. It would be easier by myself. I don’t know where to go for a job with cartoons.

The Burger Kings are set up a little strangely, but the managers do not want to hear from the workers about what is wrong. They should have a line for specialities or more customized orders and another line for regular food items, but sometimes the machines break, and it is chaotic to keep up. The managers will give you several things to do at once, and you are very busy while you are there. They are not getting paid that much either, but from what is expected, this isn’t the right amount of pay. Worse, it is not the right amount of dignity and respect.

I’ve gotten my food-handling license, the first level at least, costing $110. No Burger King did not pay for me, but the shelter did so I am grateful.

You do need the shirt, the hat, special shoes, and no they do not pay for that.

I’m afraid I have to move. My time with the shelter is running out.

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