By 8 a.m., Anthony Duckett was awake and hungry for a summer job. By 9 a.m. the 15-year-old was on the bus from Southeast. By 10 a.m. he was one of the first in a long line of youngsters all hoping that getting up early on a Saturday would get them summer jobs.
But las Saturday, like last summer, Anthony Duckett did not get a job. Nor did anybody else with him.
So far this year Duckett has heard no job offers. He hears only line like: "Sorry we're not hiring," "That job has been taken," and "Do you meet the poverty guidelines?"
"There's a whole lot of other people out there looking for jobs," Duckett said as an electric fan pushed muggy, hot Washington air through a crowd of teen-agers in the basement of Scripture Church at 9th and O streets NW.
"All my friends are out there looking and none of them has got anything . . . I don't want to get left sitting with nothing to do like last year. It can be bad, man. If you ain't working, then what you going to do?"
Duckett and about 300 teen-agers from every section of the city went to the church last Saturday after radio and television stations announced that the church and the D.C. Department of Labor had jobs available. Teen-agers could sign up for the jobs begining at 10 o'clock at the church, the announcements said.
At two earlier registration sessions at the church, about 500 teen-agers stood in line hoping for jobs. And more than 6,000 calls have come to the church's crisis center because of the television and radio announcements. Church officials had called local stations to ask for public service time.
"They thought they had a better chance to get a job by coming to the church to sign up," said Donald Wright, a member of the church's crisis center, who requested the announcement of radio and television stations.
"I think they thought it was two separate things, a church summer jobs program and the city's program," he said. "We were helping out the city people and trying to get jobs for the kids. Some of them got confused. They didn't understand, that's all."
When Duckett and the other teen-agers arrived at the church they found themselves in another of the puzzling mazes that District of Columbia youngsters face as they hunt for summer job.
To the suprise of many of the youngsters the church was not handing out jobs. What it was doing was helping city officials register teens for the city's summer jobs program - a program whose size is now uncertain. Most of the teen-agers who filed into the church's basement found out they had already registered for that program at their local high school.
City officials decided to take their registration program for summer jobs out of the high schools and to the church, which is in the mostly low-income Shaw neighborhood, because they are having trouble getting poverty-level teens to sign up for their program. But for many of the teens at the church, the promised job program was another source of frustration in their job search.
Their problem has many complex faces. For one, under the guidelines for the Comprehensive Employment Training Act, which is providing the bulk of jobs that the city from a family of four could qualify for the program only if his parents earn less than $7,200 yearly. This has caused considerable embarrassment to many of the teen-agers, who don't want to have to "prove" their poverty before qualifying for the jobs that many become available.
Mayor Marion Barry indicated last night that he was concerned about the effects of the poverty guidelines on youngsters applying for summer jobs. We will eliminate that guideline," Barry said, so that any young person who wants to work can do so.
Second, some of the teen-agers who showed up at the church cannot read or write well. They were intimidated by application forms, and some teens were unable even to fill out the forms adequately.
A third element of uncertainty is that the city's summer jobs program remains uncertain until Congress approves a supplemental budget request by Mayor Barry. A Senate Appropriations subcommittee met yesterday morning on the request, but took no action.
"I should have known it was the same old city thing," said Tania Robison, 17, a student at McKinley High School. "They want you to bring in everything. They want to know what your father does, bring his paycheck and they still ain't giving up no jobs unless you are poorer than poor. Damn, when I heard this on the radio I figured I didn't have to worry no more, but it's the same old thing."
Some teen-agers at the church Saturday said they lied about how much their parents earn so they could meent poverty guidelines and be eligible for a job. But this year the federal government is demanding a careful check of applications to ensure that poor teen-agers get the jobs. One city official at the church on Saturday said the city recently registered 4,000 teen-agers who they thought met the poverty guidelines only to find when applications were checked that 2,500 youngsters had lied about their family's income by falsifying pay stubs and taking friends' welfare case numbers. $"I just lied this time," said a 16-year-old girl, who wouldn't tell a reporter her name as she stood outside the church, huddling with friends and giggling. "I don't know how poor they want you to be so you can work but I know its pretty low, so I told them my folks don't make nothing. I would told them they were dead but I didn't want to put the bad sign on my parents."
For parents, too, the thought of having a teen-ager out of school and out of work for the summer is disturbing.
"It is going to be hell for me this summer if he doesn't get some kind of job," said Anthony Duckett's mother, who came from Southeast Washington to pick him up. "If he isn't working then, I'm wondering what he's doing all day while I'm trying to work . . . Is he out on the streets getting in all kinds of trouble or what?"
For many teen-agers who waited to sign up for summer jobs Saturday the "hell" of a summer without a job was already beginning.
"I'm a senior, so we've already stopped working in school," said Clarisse Clark, 19. "I've been looking for some kind of work but I tired of looking. They don't never say nothing but 'sorry'. I'm not going out there next week to hear them say they're sorry."