Harman and Charlene Parnell

Harman Parnell had been out of work for nine months when he took the job selling mobile homes. He told the mall store manager at Sears, where he'd sold tires before that, to kiss his ass. It had been coming for a long time. He felt good saying it.

Everything since then had been downhill.

If his wife, Charlene, hadn't pressured him, he would have given up after so many months of looking. Just get something temporary, she said. It doesn't have to be much. Think of it as insulation she said. His wife, who worked at Faith Bread Nursing Home, said he should be glad he had work again selling trailers, said he didn't know how hard it had been for her to support them both. Everything's temporary, she'd say. Harman didn't think of it that way. After nearly a year at Winner's World Mobile Homes, he still found that the first thing he looked at when a semi pulled into the lot was its tires.