This is Joy Hewett’s dreamlike interview with a dreamy, 26-year-old writer from Hillsborough.

— Ed.


“Yesterday, I mailed off my application for the federal service entrance exam. After four years of seeking an alternative to the system, the possibility of a nine thousand dollar a year job working for the Environmental Protection Agency is almost appealing.

“I’ve put racing bandages on thoroughbred horses, cooked in a galley of a WW II minesweeper for 25 treasure hunters, performed magic tricks, scuba dived, and talked maturely to three year olds, but I can’t get a job that requires my degree in English, and doesn’t compromise my values.

“Have you ever looked for a teaching position in Chapel Hill? Two hundred applications for one position, and I don’t even want to be a teacher.

“When you’re really poor you have to hustle so much, and even hitching to get around finally strains you. Not to mention worn out shoes on a rainy day and worrying about rent, broken cars, and doctors bills.

“Some of the hassles are worth it. I’ve gotten to spend three months on a Caribbean island, watching pagoda snails in 60 feet of clear blue water, watching the sun set over the Atlantic in Morocco . . .”

She looks out the window, lost in reverie, then continues,

“The want ads have maybe one out of thirty jobs you’d be interested in, other than working as a masseur, a cleaning person, or a soap salesman.

“As for the Environmental Protection Agency — they won’t even talk to you unless you take the civil service exam, and there you go, squeezed into the bureaucratic mold that makes you play the games, sell out, hide who you are for what you want, just so you can buy a car to go to work to buy a car. . . .

“And we could all be doing work to make this a better world — clean-ups, beautification, research, education. . . .”

She hands me a letter, which reads:

“Although we appreciated receiving your application for the Clean Water Campaign project, we have no available positions. The expected grant for this work did not come through, and we have no funds for such a project at this time.”

She puts down the letter and smiles.

“There went my job chance, and there went the rivers.”