One recent day at her house, Denise Brzezinski, a woman in pink bunny slippers, wife of an unemployed steelworker whose unemployment benefits ran out a year ago, talked about life as an "exhaustee":
"I did my crying. I went through my depression. When the benefits ran out I got an ulcer. I still have trouble sleeping some nights . . . . There's a lot of tension, you know. You're with your children all the time. You pick over the least little things . . . .
"Alan her husband , he can go to the store with a dollar and come back with change. Laughs. He likes to watch 'Dallas,' 'Falcon Crest' and 'Dynasty.' Those people are all so rotten rich! Laughs again.
"My mom and dad had hard times; they skimped and saved. They don't know how to cope with it now, what we're going through. My dad, he just don't want to hear it. They try, but you don't want to take off 'em . . . . My uncle gave me $50. I hated to take that. He said 'Take it.' Sure enough, something come up. I said, 'Thank God Uncle Wilbur come through.'
"We applied for welfare once and couldn't get it. You know, I always thought these people on welfare were getting rich. You think these things until you get in that situation yourself . . . .
"Just me and him, it wouldn't bother me. But Tiffany, 5, is in school and she sees what the other kids have . . . . Pizza Hut has this promotion where you get these plastic 'E.T.' glasses with your pizza. The girls want some. So what do you do? Call Pizza Hut and tell 'em you can't afford the pizza, can you just buy the glasses?
"We're really thankful; we've got the kids and we haven't lost our home yet. My mother tells me about some neighbors with blankets over the windows, and they had brought up a dryer from the basement for heat. There's so many worse off than us."