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Wayne Carter

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Wayne Carter really likes his car. He has good reason to, having worked many hours at odd jobs to save up for a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. He uses his car to get around the neighborhood and to his sister’s house. More importantly, he needs his car to get to school and work. Wayne, an 18-year-old senior at Shorewood High School, has been working since he was 15. He has mowed lawns and shoveled snow. He has washed dishes and mopped floors at the Astor Hotel. He was an usher at the Bradley Center. This summer, he’s been looking for temp jobs. Work is hard to come by this year, he sighs. He’s on call a lot, waiting for something to turn up. Wayne lives with his mom, who works at Potawatomi Bingo and Casino, and his dad, a US Army veteran. The youngest of four children, he is close to his mom, although he doesn’t see her much because she works a lot. He and his dad get along, but “we don’t have a TV relationship,” he says. The family has lived in Riverwest for three or four years. In Riverwest, “you’ve got your low class, middle class and higher class and they’re all living next to each other,” Wayne says reflectively. “[Riverwest] is convenient for everything. People have more courtesy.” School and downtown jobs are also conveniently close. Wayne is looking forward to classes starting, he says, looking a little surprised. “I normally don’t, but it’s my last year,” he says. “I miss some of my friends, mostly.” Last year his schoolwork suffered because he was working so much, he admits with a wry smile. He didn’t have much motivation to study after working late on weeknights. This year, “I plan to stay on top of my books,” he says. “I’m getting a whole different strategy.” He likes gym, but has a passion for art. Last year, he did abstract painting, Japanese brush painting and drew cars for a mock ad campaign in art class. Wayne isn’t sure what he wants to do after he’s done with school. “Right now I have a million ideas,” he says. Car designer and computer programmer are two of them. He is considering picking up technical skills as an electrician or a plumber before shelling out hefty tuition at UW-Milwaukee or Marquette. “I wanna be happy with what I do,” he says. “If you don’t like what you’re doing, your customer service sucks.” His dream job is to work for Mercedes-Benz as a car designer. A while ago, he applied for a car porter job at Mercedes and got to sit in a showroom car. To earn the job, he has to learn to drive a stick shift within the next couple of days. If that doesn’t work out, he jokes about becoming a comedian. “I’m goofy, I like to have a good time and tell jokes,” he says. Still, his favorite ways to pass time are bowling, movies and hanging out at home. “I’m, like, a geek,” he says. “I don’t go to clubs, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke.” But when he really wants to relax and forget school and work, he washes his car. “My car’s a little dirty right now,” he admits. “I’ve been lazy. Normally I wash it a lot. “When I wash it’s a stress release.”
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