In normal economic times, we might be calling him Professor Maurice Johnson. But during this economic malaise, he’s just been that guy on the street. Luckily, he’s got a YouTube following.
Johnson, 55, has a masters in Plasma Physics from Dartmouth College and a masters in Electrical Engineering and Acoustics from Purdue University. Yet he’s living in a homeless shelter in Boston, Mass. and has been out of work since November.
“It’s just simply bad luck,” Johnson said in a YouTube video interview.
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Johnson spent all of his savings and sold all of his earthly belongings, including his car, to prevent foreclosure on his parents’ house so Cleveland, Ohio so that his mother with Alzheimer’s wouldn’t have to move.
“They paid my way through school,” Johnson said. “If it’s going to take ten years, I’m going to make their final years safe and comfortable.” He then moved to Boston expecting to take a job he had been offered, but found out when he got there that it had been given away.
Johnson has been sending out his résumé to various places looking for a job. He hopes to get back into science or education. “I just want a chance. Science would be great, teaching would be great. There’s nothing greater than teaching. Teaching physics would be a blast,” he said.
He sounds plenty qualified to us. His LinkedIn profile says he worked as a computer consultant and at Lockheed Aerospace Corporation and Aerodyne Research Corporation. But he doesn’t seem as surprised at his predicament. He’s been out of work a while, and he thinks he’s actually over-qualified. He says his race has also caused difficulties.
People who have been out of work for a while typically have a more difficult time getting a job. With 9.1% of the country and 17.2% of African-Americans out of work, Johnson’s not the only one who is suffering due to the lack of opportunity.
Johnson hopes he’ll find a job sooner or later. He’s optimistic that feasible offers will become available soon. After all, he’s ready to move on. “Frankly, staying at the shelter has been an experience I don’t want to repeat ever in my life,” Johnson said.
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Zachary Cohen is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Zachary_Cohen. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.