It has been 368 days since my company of 10 years laid me off. I could be bitter about it, I suppose, but having had access to the financials, I knew how bad things were and knew that on that day I was just one of 30% of the workforce who would be told they no longer had a job. I was annoyed that I was on the block, having two projects in the previous 12 months that were returning 1.8 million and 2.2 million to the bottom line, but none of that matters when they ask for your keys, credit card and ID badge.
I went out the door with a plan. By the time I had packed up my office I knew I needed to go buy a new suit, a new computer and call everyone in my card file. I had a nice little severance package worth two months of my salary and I was going to be employed before that ran out. It was the old company’s loss, not mine. I contacted recruiters, signed up on every job board available, and worked my network like a mad man.
"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"
After rewriting my resume, again, and again and again(you have to tailor it for each job), and finding no job offers in that first two months it was time to bite the bullet and file for unemployment. I had been paying into the system for a couple of decades and never used it once, so I felt and feel exactly no guilt about getting these benefits. To say that they were a drop in wages is a vast understatement. Less than 25% of my weekly wage was going to be coming to me, and that was the top that the state of Colorado pays anyone. Still it was and is better than nothing.
The start of getting these benefits was another call to redouble my efforts to find a job. Colorado requires five contacts potential employers every week to qualify. Well, I was already doing five a day, since I was sure I would find a job, so I bumped that up to 10 and buckled down again. I did not care where the work was, it did not have to be in my field (6 Sigma, which is a business process improvement methodology) it just had to pay above the 400 bucks a week I was getting from the state. I know my ability to return value to a company, so it is all about getting my foot in the door and working my way up from there.
Six months went by, thousands of applications, a few first interviews, three second interviews, one third interview where I actually thought I had the job and still no job offers. It is a pretty humbling thing to put yourself out there time and time and time again and have the answer be "No". Having been an actor when I was younger I know how to deal with rejection, but what was easy to shrug off as a twenty-something is a harder lift as a forty-something.
Trouble seems to come in flocks, with my wife also being unemployed we could no longer put off the inevitable, we started the process to file bankruptcy. While we will try to reaffirm the debt on the house (which after 14 years and only one equity loan 10 years ago we are now upside-down on) but the reality is that if things don’t change (meaning getting a job) we will eventually have to let it be foreclosed on.
Then life gives you that little extra bit of crap with both our moms being in the process of dying, but that is a post for some other time. All of this has left me feeling really wrung out on the anniversary of my lay off. For all that I am a constitutionally optimistic person, today I feel beaten. I get to watch preening assholes from the Republican party pillory me and the other 8 million workers who have lost jobs in this recession on a regular basis. I am told by children of privilege like Rand Paul that I just have to suck it up and take a job that is below what I was making previously. Well, Doc Paul, I would fracking love to take a job that paid one half or even one third what I made before! Do you know where that work is?
This is the longest in my entire life that I have been unemployed. If you have never lived through it I don’t know if I can describe it adequately. In this country we put a lot of our identity into our jobs, we are construction workers or lawyers or 6 Sigma Black Belts. When you don’t have a job, even if you have specific skills and education that define you, there is still a loss of self. There is an un-tethered feeling, like your previous work was all something done by someone else and you are just the hollow shell of that work.
Long term unemployment is a grinding process. Every day that you don’t find work a little more of your identity is smoothed away. You are less a white collar or blue collar guy and more and more just a statistic. One of the great unwashed that can be used for political points. There is a disconnection from the world that has to be fought, but the fact of the matter is while most of your fellow citizens are at work, you are at home looking for work. It is not the normalcy you have built your life on and tears away at your confidence in daily little bites.
The argument for denying unemployment benefits extensions is and always has been a spurious one. However if Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats are serious about making Americans find work, then there is a way, create jobs. As long as there are at least five people looking for work for every job (which includes all the minimum wage jobs as well as jobs that require skills) then there will be people like me, professionals who are dying to work but can not find anything.
I am sorry if this is more than a little self indulgent. The intent here is not to bemoan my plight but to put a little bit of a face on the 8 million of us who lost our jobs because the Republicans couldn’t have banks be regulated appropriately. At this point it hardly matters that all of us lost our jobs due to no fault of our own, what matters is finding work.
So I am just going to put it out there to the community. I need a job. I will do anything, anywhere that pays more than $400 a week. I can write a little bit, as my regular readers know; I am a skilled process and data analyst; I can act; I can direct; I have run kitchens and restaurants; I have developed business plans for departments with revenues of more than $2 million a year and deployed them successfully; I can develop user guides and training for software; I can sell cars and software; but most importantly I can learn to do just about anything. What I need is a job. I have zero pride at this point, just need, raw and desperate to do work that is productive and matters in some small way.
The floor is yours.
UPDATE: Let me just start by saying you damned people rock! I know that we are a community here and can count on each other but the outpouring of support that I have recieved has made me tear up more than once in the last 24 hours. I can't express how much it means to know that you're not alone on this and the ideas and job listings that have been forwarded to me are just stellar! I don't know if they will pan out but in any case I have a debt to this community that I will work very hard to repay in kind.
Again, you Dirty Freaking Hippies are the best!