February 22, 2009

Gone Fishin'

Thirty years ago on May 19, 1979, I graduated from college with a BS degree in journalism and American History. That was during the “malaise” era. While President Carter never used the word “malaise” in his speech, those of a certain age will remember. Few jobs and high oil prices and a general feeling of hopelessness prevailed. (It was the Disco Era, for gawd’s sake.) Rather than go into the “real world” I chose to stay in school .

A year later, I was offered a job, and was able to move out of the $100 per month apartment. Having been independent for a year in that stylish roach-infested studio with its purple lamé sofa, I didn’t want to move home with the parents. (Though they were willing, we all know they didn’t really want a 23-year-old back in her pink childhood room.) Oh, and I did finish the master’s thesis and earned the degree.

That was three decades ago. With the exception of 4 weeks after childbirth (before Family Medical Leave Act), medical leaves for gallbladder and hysterectomy, that’s been about it. I've always worked full time. Oh, there was the 3-month period Husband finished graduate school and we back to the Midwest from Florida. I typed at a temp agency for minimum wage for a few weeks until I secured a professional position.

Last month more than six hundred thousand people lost jobs. I was one of them when my Fortune 500 company cut thousands of people. I cannot say I didn’t see it coming; my company has had 5 layoffs in the 9 years I’ve worked there. Like the pink candy in a Donald Duck Pez Dispenser, I knew I would eventually rise to the top.

And I was not alone on that day. A friend and a relative, both females aged 59 and 55, lost jobs that same day. You cannot turn a circle in public without hitting someone affected by job loss in this economy.

I have gone through euphoria then disbelief then despair and then just plain fear. The euphoria is just plain relief that I won't have to go through this “wondering” period again as many of my ex-colleagues will. My ex-company has already hinted at major layoffs again at the end of the year.

The disbelief and despair is self-explanatory and the fear is something we all share. The media says to have a “Plan B.” This job was my “Plan B”, taken after 20 years in the non-profit world. I wanted to shore up my retirement. Which did happen until this year when like everyone else my retirement tanked.
I am thankful for the benefits I'm getting and for my husband's job, and realize things could be much worse.

  • So what am I doing?
    Watching TV with my cats, one of whom rolled over on the remote the other day and selected a porno movie (the 900 channels are located right below the NBC channel I was watching)
  • Preparing to teach a class on “Personal Management” for my son’s old Boy Scout troop. (You will see the irony in this if you look at photo below.)
  • Volunteering a few hours a week for a local charity where I serve on the BOD. That’s the best thing on this list. They need me and I need them.
  • Taking assessment tests for outplacement and answering questions like, “Which would you rather be? A dairy farmer? Mathematician? Accountant? Or Actress? (Husband reminded me that in high school I was in the chorus of a church musical called No No A Million Times No or Only a Farmer’s Daughter. I was a milkmaid in a yellow gingham dress along with other 14-year-olds. Thus, a dairy farmer AND an actress.
    (By the way, the assessment revealed that I’m a control freak who likes words. Surprise!)
  • Getting my hair cut and not colored for first time in 9 years, and wondering what the real color is. Stay tuned. I don’t think it is blonde.
  • Learning to apply for jobs online, finding one and applying for it only to discover moments later that I submitted the resume of my friend who lost her job, (In my defense, I have 4 files on my hard drive that are marked “resume.” That may have been a good thing, for my friend M. started a new job on Monday!
  • Dumping all the files out of my filing cabinet, buying new hanging folders, buying batteries for the label maker, and then just letting the files sit there.
  • Making of a list of all the things I want to do while unemployed and then becoming overwhelmed by it.

    Meanwhile I am figuring out Plan C, which will most likely not involve being a dairy farmer/actress. My friend J says he can get me a job milking cows with relatives in Posey County, but that would involve my actually touching a cow.

    Of course I dream of being the next “Erma Bombeck” and my pithy words spread across the world like ants at a picnic on Bombeck’s Dayton patio. (That was awful but it will have to do.)

    Quoth the raven.