A Bible, water bottle and a can of cold ravioli—hiking to the Hollywood sign with only these three items was just the beginning of HU student Isiah Huber’s summer.
By Ashlye Silva, Contributor
Emails, phone calls, and going door-to-door.
“My plan was to find an internship, but that didn’t happen. When that didn’t work I went door-to-door basically to try to find a job,” says Isiah Huber, Huntington University journalism, communication, history and international development studies student.
While joining his friend who had an internship in Los Angeles, California, Huber was set on the adventure to also find work.
“I was a little too optimistic,” says Huber.
Los Angeles is a much larger city than Huntington. Being able to walk in and find a job in a small town in Indiana leads students, like Huber, to believe that finding work should be easy. Huber was turned down at places like Target, a local bakery, Ross, and even looked at an ad for an exorcist. At 10.6 percent, Los Angeles has a much higher unemployment rate than Huntington with 3.8 percent.
COVID-19 pushed many people in their homes, allowing them to work remotely. The Washington Post says, “The deep frustration among both hiring managers and job seekers right now underscores the challenges in getting so many people back to work quickly and the growing divide between what employers want versus what job seekers want.”
“I constantly harassed people for a job,” says Huber.
But there was one inconvenient fact.
“I had to find ways to not mention that I’m only here for the summer,” says Huber. “It always came up.”
Going onto Craigslist to find a position to be an exorcist seemed inappropriate for Huber, but the internet moved him toward landing a summer position.
“I went onto Summerjobsthatmatter.org.”
Huber filled out an application on the website for an activist group working to save honeybees.
“Ten minutes later I get a phone call back and they asked, ‘Do you want to save the bees?’”
Huber figured saving the bees was a cause he could get behind.
“Everything worked out,” Huber says. “The location, the pay, it was all great, especially for being in LA. Then they said you had to be fully vaccinated, and I only had my first dose, and the earliest that I could start was in August, when I was leaving.”
Money and housing was tight this summer for him.
“Orange Drive Hostel was where we were staying for the first few weeks. After that, finding a place to live was hard. Everything was expensive.”
Huber found the cheapest place to live in LA.
“It was an RV. Super run-down and filthy. We were a part of a larger complex, but we called ours the ‘presidential suite’ because it was bigger than the rest.”
The overall building was an abandoned radio station.
“Los Angeles may not have the population density of New York,” according to The New York Times,” may not have as many skyscrapers or high-rise apartment buildings or jam-packed subways, but the county does have a higher percentage of overcrowded homes — 11 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — than any other major metropolitan area in America.”
The price was about $23 a night.
“The bathroom was always wet, and the shower was tiny. There was an infestation of gnats from all of the water,” says Huber.
There were people who were in charge of the RV rentals that didn’t care much about issues.
There was a skunk on the property and the second in command said, “It seems to live there.”
The presidential suite was supposed to have a stove. Instead, cooking happened in a communal microwave.
“Cold meat sandwiches, canned food that I hardly cooked, and McDonalds were what the meals mainly consisted of. We usually had two meals if you consider chips or apples as a meal.”
He lost ten pounds.
Caden Compton, a friend of Huber’s from the high school choir, says that it was a time he will never forget.
“Our living situation was perfect for two college kids with nowhere else to go. But it became a home to struggling comics, lucky homeless people, and drug addicts.”
Huber slept on the couch in the living room of the RV. It was never comfortable, nor did it ever get better.
“During the last week and a half I found a few bites on me. I kept getting more and more, and started realizing that it was 100 percent bed bugs,” says Huber.
He asked the owners to fix it, and they never did.
“I read that they only come out at night. I wondered if they’d come out if the light was on. I slept with the light on, with a shirt over my face, and it worked other than the last few nights I had a few bites.”
Memories of poor living situations weren’t all for Huber.
People in LA were memorable for Huber.
“One night at 4 am we heard firetrucks outside of our window,” Huber says, “We heard, ‘Get out of there!’”
He thought the RV was on fire, which it was not.
“It was burnt food on a stove from one of the apartments.”
That night, they had an encounter with a screaming man across the street.
“My friend finished his cigarette, and threw it in the road. The man who was screaming ran over and dumped his water to try to put out the cigarette and misses. Then he takes a few steps back, puts his arm back as far as he can, and chucks the cup at my friend.”
It knocked his glasses off.
Compton said, “Ok man have a good night,” and walked away.
“In Indiana I’d walk around at night. Never do that in LA.” says Huber
“We’ve had a lot of people come up to us and either talk to us, ask us for something, or offer us drugs.”
Huber placed fear to the side some days and went to explore the city while his friend was at his internship.
“When I wasn’t trying to find a job I went on walks and be back before night.”
One time he tried to hike to the Hollywood sign.
“I made it half way through the trail and then ran out of water.”
His backpack consisted of his Bible, water bottle, and his lunch– a can of cold ravioli.
To pass time, his Bible helped, as well as attempting to workout in a small space.
“We didn’t really have power, but we did have wifi.”
“I finished the entirety of Ben10. I watched every single series except for the reboot. Every movie that I could, I did”, says Huber.”
Compton says, “The 99 Cent store and free activities like going to the beach were the way to go.”
“It was humbling, adventurous, disgusting, exhilarating, and most of all it was fun,” says Compton.