The work goes on and your help is needed and appreciated

I draw in a deep breath and brace my arms on the steel frame of my car. I heave myself into a standing position. I try to suppress the noises, but a few groans and grunts escape.

I steady myself on arthritic knees. Sometimes I find myself in a daydream when I had the full power of my legs, that going to the mailbox was three or four quick strides.

The first step reminds me of how much fantasy that dream remains.

I wobble and shuffle over to the mailbox. I turn the key. The box is empty.

Quick rewind: A million years ago, I lost my job at the local newspaper in the teeth of the pandemic. I struggled to find work. Lots of people did.

I decided to go back to graduate school and finish my teaching degree. They’ll always need teachers.

I received unemployment benefits. They ran out. I applied for a program that paid extended benefits for people who left a declining profession for a needed profession.

The state government denied me. Officials told me journalism wasn’t a declining profession. (How many days a week does the local newspaper publish, again?)

They also told me teachers weren’t on the needed jobs list. (The kerfuffle about a teacher staffing crisis must be a fart in the wind.)

I appealed to the administrative law judge.

I lost the appeal.

I appealed to a higher authority.

An attorney friend of mine gave me so pro bono advice. He told me to appeal, but it was unlikely a judge would overrule an administrative law judge.

But appealing was free.

That was months ago.

I’ve heard nothing.

Meanwhile, I’m close to the end of my student teaching. It’s been a challenge to manage a classroom on two bad knees, but with the help of mentors, I’ve managed.

I’ve survived on the donation of friends, family, and a lot of strangers who only know me through my paragraphs in the local paper and online.

Their generosity humbles me.

I don’t know when I’ll hear about my appeal, if ever. I don’t call anymore. They just tell me they’re behind.

I started a GoFundMe. I ask for donations. I don’t like this, but one does what one must to keep moving forward.

I’m very close now. I just need to finish up student teaching, fill out the last bit of my paperwork, and find a job.

I’ve gotten a few rejection letters.

I get it.

I may be middle-aged and an experienced writer, but I’m a novice teacher.

But surely there’s a need for a middle-aged former newsman trying to be a teacher.

I’m asking for help again, which I don’t like to do.

Yet, if I’ve learned anything in the long painful slog of the last two years, it’s that none of us get where we’re going without a little help.

For all of you who have helped, thank you. I love you. And I will be that teacher that I’ve promised I will be: cut from the mold of the ones who helped me find my inner fire.

Any nudge you can offer to help me pay for groceries, utilities, gas, and other basics is greatly appreciated.

May God bless and keep you all as you have blessed and kept me.

Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.
Meal Train:
Zelle: (No fees.)

Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.


  1. Donna Johns says:

    Question. Would it help you to get some meals delivered. Im going to fresh and fit meals tomorrow for myself and could pick up extras for you, or I could just fo paypal. If you want meals, I’d just need to know if there’s anything you don’t like (like shrimp or salmon). Let me know!


    1. PayPal or Venmo is best. I have my meals pretty tightly packed and a small freezer. Thank you!


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