Note: The WYFP community mourns the loss of life in Boston and stands with those who yearn for justice, closure, and peace. By sharing our problems in this forum tonight, we do not seek to compare our issues to those of others. As always, we strive to support each other in this diary, and we also extend our support, love, and comfort to those outside our circle who are hurting tonight.
WYFP is our community's Saturday evening gathering to talk about our problems, empathize with one another, and share advice, pootie pictures, favorite adult beverages, and anything else that we think might help. Everyone and all sorts of troubles are welcome. May we find peace and healing here. Won't you please share the joy of WYFP by recommending?It's coming up on five years since I lost my job as the marketing manager of a prominent architectural firm in New York City. It's nearly four years since my son and I moved from NYC to rural Indiana. It's almost three years since I received my last unemployment check. It's six months since I worked steadily (though part-time). And it's a month and a half until my 50th birthday. Is this what our generation has to look forward to for the rest of our productive lives?
Baby Boomers arguably are having a particularly rough time in this economy because we were brought up on promises. Promises that if we worked hard, went to college, invested wisely, gave our children roots and wings, yadda yadda yadda, we would spend our senior years contemplating the pounding surf from the deck of our summer cottage, coffee cup in hand, the diffused light of eternal summer glinting off our slightly silvering hair, while our investments were hard at work supporting the lifestyle to which we felt entitled to become accustomed.
These promises were not made by our parents. They were made by our culture. From my earliest memories of learning about economics in school, retirement was presented as the inevitable final stage of a person's worklife. A reward for a lifetime of contributing to society. An entitlement for years of hard work and sacrifice. Something to look forward to.
I now believe that, along with millions of other Boomers, I will never have the opportunity to retire. Though I am barely working sporadically now, I fully expect that the last half of my life will be spent scraping and scrambling at tenuous part-time jobs as I struggle to meet basic expenses every month.
I grew up assuming such that a lifestyle was the hallmark of the uneducated. But I have a bachelor's degree in education, a master's degree in English literature, and twenty years of experience working in various capacities ranging from high school teacher to college professor to corporate trainer to business manager to business owner.
When I was laid off, I had been making an average of $60 an hour. When I first moved back to Indiana, I was stunned to find people grappling for $10-an-hour jobs. As I joined the fray, I found that my best prospect was substitute teaching at $60 a day. That's making in one day what I used to make in one hour. True, we're comparing New York money with flyover country money, but that hardly eases the sting. Or the debt. I'm in the hole for more than $3,000 for past-due medical bills, and no ten dollars an hour is going to take a bite out of that anytime soon.
So with my 401K gone, savings nonexistent, and subbing sporadic, I'm living the nightmare that so many of our generation has had to face over the last few years. And it doesn't look as though it's going to end anytime soon. Retirement? Not in this life.
Enough about me. Floor's open. What's your fucking problem?