Sunday, January 25, 2009

The scary world behind the smile

We've been watching the news and hearing of all the large companies laying off hundreds of employees at a time. Businesses closing their doors and others cutting back to bare bones because of the dwindling demand of products and services. 

Then we hear about the greedy executives using bailout money intended to be made available as loans to businesses to help invigorate the economy but rather choosing to use it for redecorating bathrooms or holding on to the money to help their institution "weather out the recession." Does no one with decision power have a the ability to do the right thing without thinking of themselves first? I know there has to be stories of good being done with the bailout money but we don't hear about those. It's not as shocking as the media's focus of the dirty rotten scoundrel story. 

And then there's health care. This government has dragged it's feet for decades on the need for universal healthcare for all US citizens. Now it's crisis time and they haven't even started. There are so many things needing to be fixed.

It's hard not to get caught up in the storm of these times. You can ignore it for small bits of time, but it's still the dark cloud looming in the distance. You turn your head occasionally and peek at it from the corner of your eye. We pretend that it won't effect us too much but we really know we can't be so sure. Attempting to think we will be prepared for when and if it does hit us. Thinking that saving a few bucks a month by cutting back on lunch outings or buying the bologna instead of the sliced roast beef is going to be enough. But thinking it most likely won't effect us. We're safe from the storm..aren't we?

It can happen in the blink of an eye. Or, in a few minutes in the bosses office, being told on a Friday morning that after 25 years, his position has been eliminated. Not a layoff, eliminated. Gone forever. This is your last day. We're so sorry - it's not because of your work performance, you're an outstanding employee, but each department had to make cut backs and this is the hardest decision we've had to make. 

Then the phone call to his wife, me, that was cut short by my sobs. In a moment the storm is overhead and on top of us without warning. I'm crying in fear for what is to come. Knowing what we've seen on the news. All the bad news. That companies are firing, not hiring. What about our health insurance? If one of us gets sick, will we be destitute paying off some medical emergency debt for the rest of our life? It's hard not to go down the dark road. It sucks you in.  

I put on a smile and tell all it will be alright while behind the smile my worry deepens. I keep thinking of all the things I need to learn. What happens when we can't pay the bills? How are we supposed to buy our own health insurance at 2 to 3 times more cost on an unemployment income of 30% less? The numbers don't add up. How do people do it?

Behind the smile I wonder if we will be like so many others and have to hand over the house keys to the mortgage company. Will we have to find homes for our cats and dog? That unthinkable loss of our Rico, it's too hard to go there. That dark road, it sucks you in.

Behind the smile I wonder if he will find work. Will he go on interview after interview and be looked over because he's 53? If he's not chosen time after time will it change him? Will it make him laugh less? Will this hurt him? I want to protect him from any hurt that may come his way. Will they know that he used to bring smiles to so many he worked with or that he was called the chocolate fairy by the receptionists? That he found joy in his work of solving the tough questions their experts couldn't figure out. Will they know how many cried or sought him out to say goodbye and shake his hand the day he left? Those aren't questions they ask on an interview. 

He is optimistic and confident we will be fine. I need to catch a ride on his flight and stop crawling down the dark hole of mourning. I'll get there eventually. It's hard to be sad for too long when you live with a 6 foot 3 inch tall chocolate fairy who flies through the air in a tutu after all (see photo to right). 

We will be OK. 


Bill Stankus said...

I wish you and yours well.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. That sucks big-time. I am wishing you all the very best of luck, too.

What was his job/area of expertise? Perhaps your blog can bring him some leads.

Erin Alberty said...

Oh, man. I'm so sorry to hear that. I agree, health insurance is the scariest piece. Maybe you can make enough room in your budget to cover cobra rates for a few months. I know it's not cheap, but you'd have more peace of mind.

Best of luck!!

Jocelyn said...


It's horrifying. It's panic-inducing. I wish I could mail you ten thousand dollars, just so you could get through the next few months without an ulcer and wondering where the people you used to be have gone.

How awful, honey. I'm so sorry.

Balou said...

Thanks for the kind words, they mean a lot. We are OK for a few months - he did get a small severance and had some vacation time coming. Retirement is secure, thank goodness, but that's nine or ten years away. If nothing comes along right away, we'll both be looking for full-time jobs so we can get healthcare. My freelance business does OK but not enough to support both of us and purchase insurance.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh you are breaking my heart. How awful. I will pray for you and your husband--and FYI, I don't know if you ever care to move, but Mr. D's company is always looking for good people and if you needed to shoot a resume this way, I'd get it in the right hands.
Cyber hugs.

Anonymous said...

wishing you well.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I'm so sorry you have to face this BS.

If you need some distraction, let me know -- we can get together and not talk about it :).

lime said...

oh balou i am so sorry for the bad news. i am glad his spirits are good. hopefully he can find something sooner rather than later. prayers and hugs.

Midwest Mom said...

I will keep you and yours in my prayers. These are scary times. Don't underestimate the power of your husband's expertise and connections. They make all the difference.

I will keep a good thought for you and for him.

- Julia

actonbell said...

{{{Balou}}}} I'm so sorry. Have faith that your husband's compelling spirit and personality will shine, and he will find another place. These are scary times--I'll send all my good vibes your way. Take care of yourself!

KFarmer said...

Your blog is the second this morning that I checked and a key member of support in a family has lost their job. I'm so very, very sorry.

If there is anything I can do to help, let me know. I don't know what line of work your hubby is in but I will certainly keep my ear to the ground if you want me to.

My son-in-law got laid off January 1 and has not worked since. It's tough, especially since they are expecting a baby in July. They may or may not have insurance to cover the birth.

Dave told me the other day, "don't be surprised if our family and some friends come to live with us." I won't be but I hope they are prepared to get on the end of a hoe.. I'm planting more this year then ever.

Keep your chin chopper up my dove, and again, let me know if there is any thing I can do to help~ You both are in my thoughts and prayers.

Bone said...

I am so sorry to hear that. Everytime I hear about job cuts on the news--which seems to be every day now--I think about the people who are losing their jobs and wonder how they are going to make it.

Your post was beautiful and heartfelt. And a smile at the end.

Sarah said...

Oh , I just read your post. I am so sorry. I hope that all will be well.These are awful times and the threat of this hangs over us all, but to have it actually happen to you is gut wrenching.Be strong and take each day at a time. Thinking of you. Sarah x

ArtSparker said...

Damn, what a frickin' drag. I am so bummed.

You two take good care of each other. Things have got to turn back up, I certainly hope sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Michael Moore's docco on the US medical system. I was shocked. So if one you guys gets sick, or rocco needs a trip to the vet, then jump on a pane and fly to Australia. Or Canada. Or Cuba even.

notmassproduced said...

what a shock. sending out good luck vibes.