Getting By In Atlanta

Jelani Cobb

hide captionHistory professor Jelani Cobb says you can see the recession in his classes.

David Greene/Flickr/Twitter

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On my 100 Days trip, I'm finding the recession harder and harder to keep up with. While eating at a the Stone Soup Kitchen, a hip coffee shop in south Atlanta, I ran into Jelani Cobb, a U.S. history professor at Spelman College. He talked to me about belt-tightening at the historically black college for women, and about students dropping out for lack of tuition. But knock on wood, he said, his campus had so far been spared actual job cuts.

No sooner did I leave Atlanta Tuesday afternoon than news comes on my car radio that Spelman was cutting jobs — 35 jobs, the department of education and more.

I spoke to Cobb at the Stone Soup Kitchen, where a lot of college students wait tables. Owner Jason MacDonald is trying to convince his wife, Catherine Dyer, to join them. She was just laid off as coordinator of literary events at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.

Catherine is a part-time actress, and thinks she has other options before turning to waiting tables and slinging hash. But she's not closing the door on the idea. And the couple say they feel like they've always been immune to tough economic times — but no longer.

Catherine Dyer and Jason MacDonald

hide captionCatherine Dyer and Jason MacDonald own the Stone Soup Kitchen.

David Greene/Flickr/Twitter

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Finally, practical needs can lead to enlightening conversation. After being on the road for three weeks, I had to do some laundry. The hotel service was obscenely expensive, so I ended up at Michael Bhatia's dry cleaning shop, in a downtown Atlanta office building. He was grateful for the business — here's why:

Michael Bhatia

hide captionMichael Bhatia says his customers are cutting back on dry cleaning.

David Greene/Flickr/Twitter

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