My family came to the United States during the early 1990’s recession. My father had been a railroad engineer back in Russia, mostly working the geriatric section of the network, the track between Moscow and (then) Leningrad. In the States, he discovered to his chagrin that the railroads and the train industry were in the crapper, and so the only job he could find that matched his education and skills was for a custom air-conditioning company, which offered him $8.25 an hour with no benefits — provided he first worked for them for six months without pay, “as a volunteer”. And so, like many youngish Soviet immigrants at that time, my father became a livery driver.
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