I first heard about Les from career coach Cathy Goodwin’s excellent Mid-Life Career Strategy blog.
He was a former Wall Street Journal reporter who ended up living out of his truck from June 2002. The story made the USA Today newspaper in Sept 2003 and I strongly encourage you to read it: How a Regular Guy Gets Homeless - Les Gapay
I believe it contains five key survival lessons for what many mid-life white collar folks might experience over the next 5 years:
Lesson 1: True change comes from within.
Lesson 2: Friends and family may surprise you
Lesson 3: Get in touch with the natural world.
Lesson 4: Irregular work may become the norm.
Lesson 5: Watch what you eat.
Cathy’s post picked up on the changing workplace practices in the US employment market; especially the increasing number of freelancers and part-timers. With President Obama’s recent job stimulus package (as I understand it) just getting into the public domain, I wonder how many other Les Gapay stories we will read about in the coming years.
And the real Mr. Gapay?
A quick google found this story as of Jan 2009; A life comes out of storage. (Oct 2011: Broken link) At least he now has a small apartment to call home at the age of 65, and he can clearly still write well.
Something inside me is left wondering if his wilderness years during the boom time economy now deflating has the makings of a great tale about what really matters when you’re getting old and the chips are down.
2012 March 30 Update: Looks like Mr. Gapay is still alive and writing. Here’s Les writing a remembrance to one of his mentors.
Larger than life: Everyone needs a mentor like this. dailyinterlake.com/opinionarticle_814ad838-5aae-11e1-9bcf-0019bb2963f4.html (2020-05: Link returns a 404.)