Wednesday, February 27, 2013

When Daddy finds a job...

Two people in my family are gainfully employed. And I'm neither of them.

The reason, you see, is that I am currently "between jobs," which is a polite way of saying I'm unemployed.

I never, ever expected to be out of work. No one ever does, I guess, as that is one of the foremost items on The List of Things That Happen to Other People.

From August 22, 1988, until Jan. 4th, 2013, I always had something to fill in the blank for "Name of Employer." At no point during that quarter of a century was I without a job.

Then, with one bizarre meeting last month in the office of the COO of my former company, my world turned upside down.

I know my story isn't uncommon. And I know that saying "my world turned upside down" borders on the melodramatic. But on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale (which I found on Wikipedia and am going to assume is famous in psychology circles), "dismissal from work" is the eighth most life-changing event that can happen to a person.

In case you're curious, the top seven such events, in order, are death of a spouse, divorce, marital separation, imprisonment, death of a close family member, personal injury or illness, and marriage. I have experienced only two of those things, but I imagine I'll be adding a third if I don't find a job soon, since Terry will likely either leave me or inflict "personal injury" upon me.

(By the way, I think "your own death" should probably rank #1 on the Holmes and Rahe scale, don't you? I can't imagine anything more life-changing than that.)

One of the blessings of losing your job - and there are a few - is that everyone you've ever known comes out of the woodwork to let you know they're praying for you, thinking about you, looking out for jobs on your behalf, etc. Which is nice. And helpful, too, since even the long hours I spend in front of the computer every day aren't possibly enough to uncover ALL of the potential vocational opportunities. It's good to have extra sets of eyes out there working for me.

Another blessing is that I get to get the mail almost every day. You wouldn't believe how important the arrival of the mail becomes when you're home all the time. Eddie the mail guy pulls up in his little truck and I find myself giddy with the possibilities. I don't know what I'm expecting, though, since I have yet to get an unsolicited job offer in the mail. But that's the thing...YOU NEVER KNOW. So Eddie comes and I dutifully put on my shoes and retrieve the mail in case there's something really good there.

I also enjoy running errands at 2 o'clock in the afternoon while the rest of you are working. There are no crowds to contend with at any of the stores and no traffic to speak of. When I finally do find a job, that's something I'm going to miss.

Incidentally, that phrase "when I get a job" or "when Daddy finds a job" is one that comes up a lot in our house these days. Examples:

* "When Daddy gets a job, we can go back to eating three meals a day again. Isn't that great?"

* "McDonald's? No, we're not going to McDonald's. When Daddy gets a job, maybe we'll go to McDonald's. But right now, we're not going to McDonald's."

* "Don't worry, honey. When Daddy gets a job, he'll start shaving and grooming himself again. I think we can all just deal with the smell for awhile. It won't be long."

And that's just it: I don't KNOW if it will be long. In the back of my mind, I had sort of hoped to be working again by the first of March, which in retrospect was unrealistic. Now I have thoughts like, "Will I be working by April? By May? By the beginning of summer? Good Lord, will I ever work again?!?"

It doesn't help when people who have been through this before try to console you by telling stories that start this way: "I know how you feel. I was out of work for nine months and I..." And you don't hear the rest of what they're saying because you're thinking, "NINE MONTHS? NINE MONTHS?!? OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH..."

I have constructed elaborate scenarios in my head in which my unemployment drags on for so long that we exhaust our savings and I'm forced to join the migrant Mexican workers here in Lake County who pick grapes a few months out of the year and return to Guadalajara for the winter. If I'm allowed to select my Mexican migrant worker name, I'm going with Manuel. Or maybe Pablo. Either way, I hope the pay is good.

A lot of people will tell you to have faith and that this will be (say it with me) "The Best Thing That Could Have Happened." And I do believe some good will come of it. Some day. Soon, I hope. In the meantime, I've got two bucks in my pocket that Terry doesn't know about it. And I'm going to use it to get a couple of things off the Dollar Menu at McDonald's. Unemployment doesn't have to be THAT bad...


  1. did you know that you can be a substitute teacher at any school with just a degree, might help to fill in the time and who knows, you might just find a niche in the school system somewhere and then you can blog, what i did with my summers off? :) check out the school websites, there are open jobs all the time, just a thought

  2. Wow, I am surprised that I have experienced 6 of the 8 items on the Holmes and Rahe scale.

    I was unemployed several times and it was never "the best thing that ever happened." The best thing to happen was getting re-employed at another job. You are collecting unemployment aren't you? Start to worry when that runs out. Until then enjoy your time off.

  3. Anonymous #1: You're actually the second person to mention the possibility of substitute teaching to me. It had never occurred to me before, but if a few things I have brewing on the job front don't work out relatively soon, I may seriously look into it.

    Anonymous #2: I'm starting to agree with you. The best part of unemployment will, undoubtedly, be getting a job. As for unemployment benefits, trust me, I'm on the case there...