"You can't go in and use your personality to get a job anymore," she said.
Outside her office in a yellow building on the Delaware River in Essington one lunch hour, Sappington walked the riverbank.
On the ground, amid the muck and meager chances, Sappington considered 44 more working years of nothing special.
"My folks seem to think I'll be fine," she said. "But I can't understand why I'm in this situation."
Khalib Artis is at his computer, listening to the Kendrick Lamar song "good kid, m.A.A.d city" in the dining room of the West Philadelphia house where he lives with his mother:
Fresh outta school cause I was a high school grad
Sleeping in the living room in my momma's pad
Artis, 21, has his own room, but the rest of the lyric resonates. Six-foot-three, gentle and handsome, Artis is drawn to the music life. He writes hip-hop songs himself, not to perform, but he hopes for others to make famous.
A graduate of World Communications Charter School in Philadelphia, Artis applied for 43 jobs between January and May alone. Among many low-wage jobs he's worked, Artis has parked cars at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts and cleaned the toilets at Christ Lutheran Church in Upper Darby, where his uncle used to be the pastor.
Lately, he's been working part time at Perfumania at the King of Prussia mall — two buses and a train away. But that's seasonal and will soon end.
Artis attended Community College of Philadelphia for more than a year but didn't finish. "I wasn't focused in class," he said in a low, measured voice. "I love music, and all I could do was think of music. College is not for everybody, and 100 percent of the population shouldn't have to be subjected to that one lane."
He hears his mother, a laid-off paralegal who now does office duties for a Center City lawyer, talk about the jobs that people without degrees could choose in the 1970s - tales of the low-hanging fruit of a better time. "It was much different being 21 back then," Artis said.
Artis lately has been working on a project he calls "Undeferred." It's based on an image he created of an angel chasing its halo. Artis sees this as the logo for a music label, or a movement for young people. He wears an angel on a hoodie he designed.
The angel represents people who do bad but strive to be good. In their efforts, they manage not to defer their dreams, but to live them.
"The most successful people are the ones who use their ideas to the max," Artis said, hoping from his predicament in the tight West Philly streets that he could be one of them. He's not optimistic in one of his songs:
From a city full of talent but the voices go unheard
So the city's full of nightmares, too many dreams deferred.
The problem with men