S2: Episode 18 - Mike

Episode Information

[Intro Music]

Narrator:  Welcome to Hunger and Resilience, narrative histories about the complexity and experiences of hunger. A traveling exhibition and weekly podcast edited and hosted by Michael Nye, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank, Eric Cooper, executive director. We are grateful for the honesty and eloquence of every voice. Episode 18, Mike.

Mike:  When I was a little boy, I was just a loner. I just didn’t need any, any, uh, friends. I liked hiking up in the mountains and, uh, enjoyed the freedom that I thought I had. All, all of us were, um, were afraid of my dad. We were not allowed to have any books in our house. We cannot eat dinner until my dad gets home from work. We don’t see him till like midnight, or four, or five or six in the morning. So we had to wait and wait. I have seen it. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve been through it myself. My dad was beaten up on, on my mother, and I got a German Shepherd to, uh, protect my mother. Two days later, the police showed up at our house. And, um, I came home from, from school and packed up my stuff and moved out. And nobody knew. I just wanted to have a different family to go to.

It just happened. I don’t know how, where it came from or how, how, how it, how it occurred. Something triggered my, my brain to do something. And I, I had no way of controlling it. I was in me mental hospital for 35 years. It was, it was, um, basically it was hell being in there, listening to people screaming, um, and being outta control. It was very hard. I got released and started working at Mr. Donuts. I carried boxes and big bags of flour, and I, um, asked my boss if I could learn how to bake fried donuts. And he, and he taught me how to make ’em, because I didn’t know how to read. I really appreciated being there. At that time, I was making a dollar an hour for 10 years. I ate nothing but donuts every day. And that’s all I lived on, because I didn’t know how to cook anything except for donuts. And that’s all I did. I tasted rum, donuts, orange donuts, french donuts, donut holes, blueberry cherry chocolate, swiss chocolate, glazed donuts and witches hats. I got, I got tired, uh, smelling donuts and tasting them. When I was on a bus, somebody said I smelled like a donut.

I worked all my life just to survive. When they fired me from Mr. Donuts, I was wondering what I’m gonna do for food, how to get it. And I had no idea. They didn’t gimme a check or anything like that. So I just cried out in a parking lot for maybe like 40 or 45 minutes. I would go about, um, three weeks without food. Three or four weeks, just a little food. But, but I, I could find it. It was painful, very painful. When I, when I don’t eat, I, I get really skinny, real, real thin, and maybe a little bit depressed, and a little bit of anger, and it just throws my body off. I would think about something, you know, what am I gonna eat for supper tonight or tomorrow night? It’s really hard to describe. Like I said, I, I would work and whatever money I get, I could buy food with it. Um, mow yards, I wash cars, clean out the gutters. I’ll get up on top of the roofs and push the snow off the house. I’m not afraid, and I will be afraid to work. What is important is motivation. ’cause if you, if you give up on motivation, you, you’re never gonna make up what you’re gonna be. I will not give up on, on life.

[Outro Music]

Host:  I met Mike in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I deeply thank him for his powerful perspective and history, his voice and his presence. To understand another person, you must consider things from his or her point of view. May something in Mike’s story, stay with you. I’m Michael Nye. You can go to my website, , michaelnye.org/podcastfor portraits and transcripts. Thank you so much for listening