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Friday, February 25, 2011

Economic Meltdown

Seriously, this last 2-and-a-half years have been hell for our family.  How we've made it this far without losing our home is nothing short of God-intervention.  But, today, I felt I needed to share with all you dear readers and friends the reasons why my posts have been sparingly.  My state-of-mind.  That really is it.  My state-of-mind has been in a meltdown of sorts, and not just recently either.

Yes, Big Bear was laid off in September, 2008, and no, he hasn't found a job yet.  We didn't have all kinds of money lying around to live on either.  I mean, we had some savings and we had a retirement account, and we have equity in our home, but that's it.  No beach houses or lake condos or rental property.  No CDs or Stock or investments.  We've just been living on "cash" for the last 12 years.  Literally. No credit cards either.  Thank God.


When Bob and I married in 1993, Bob had a good job at GEIS and I was a full-time student at Georgetown University.  I was also working at a nail salon making some extra cash part time.  Five months into our marriage, I was pregnant with Sarah and we decided that I would stay home and raise our family and take care of our home and he would be our support. 


It's been 18 years since we walked down the isle together, and we've run into some hard times before in our marriage, but nothing like this.  He's been laid off a number of times, but we knew that this was typical for the industry that he was in - I.T.


Still, Bob moved up the ranks and the payscale.  Never, did we ever dream that the rug would be pulled out from under us like this.  Never, if for no other reason than Bob's education, experience, work history, and scores of references would put him in the running for the best of jobs with companies like GE, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, Cambridge Technology Partners, Bell Atlantic, Avaya, and others.  He has worked at all of these companies and led the path for new technology and millions of dollars of business for each of them, but here we are, with 9.09 in one checking account and .73 in the other and that's it folks.  We've reached the end of our proverbial pot and so far 2011 seems to have been the end of my proverbial rope.


We pray.  We pray some more.  I know this is all on God's time, but come on already!!  Have we not lived a good life?  Been worthy of carrying the burden?  Been heard?  Our church friends are wonderful.  They are praying that we find a steady income and security once again.  Thank you to everyone who has emailed me and is thinking of  and praying for us. 


What is so difficult about all of this is the number of opportunities that have turned their backs on Bob because they say he has too much experience, or too little experience in this narrow field.  Good golly, Home Depot turned him down for a job because they said he was over qualified.  Well, duh!!  But we need a job!!  We have a family to feed and children to get through college with decent clothes and books.  We need to buy shoes for growing children and school supplies.  We need to buy toothpaste and take them to the dentist!!  And NO!  We haven't been to the dentist in 2 years!!!  Why?  Because we don't have medical insurance and medicaid doesn't pay for the dentist.


I know this isn't just us.  God knows this isn't just us.  Last night, Bob went to our church for a weekly meeting of the "unemployed" in our community.  The place is packed.  Every Thursday night, they all get together and share their experiences, their hopes, their dreams for their future and the future of their family.  They all share their resumes and even recruiters are showing up at these meetings.  You know what is interesting about all of this?  It's that most of the people in the meetings are in their 50's.  Most have worked 10, 15, 20 years for one company and now are being told they don't have enough experience.  The others, like Bob, who have grown and worked for company after company are told you have too much experience, over-qualified. 


You know what I say to all of this - BULL !!!*&%(#)!!!  What they're really saying is "you" are too old.  Over 50?  Forget it.  We want someone in their 20's or 30's who we can shape into what we want them to be.  We don't want all of your experience.  You know why the Home Depots of the world won't hire Bob?  Because they know that once they hire him he'll find another job and leave.  Yeah, probably, but at least they could have him for a couple of months or a couple of years at this rate.  And this chart - you know what the government no longer looks at?  Us.  That's right.  They no longer figure in those of us who have been out of work for more than 2 years.  Therefore, this chart is about as accurate as .... uh .... me guessing the number of cells in my body that are screaming at me at this very moment.

It's not all "Bob" either.  You're probably asking, "so what have you done, Susan, all this time?"  Well, I've applied at Home Depot, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, 5 law firms, and a temp agency.  Most don't even bother to follow up on a job inquiry, and the ones who have have said basically the same thing - "you've been out of the workforce for too long" or "You don't meet the requirements for this position."  You're kidding, right? Exactly what requirements are needed to run a cash register, bag groceries, anything?  I could probably teach them a thing or two about how it should be done, but "nope" they won't even give me the time of day.  So...


I paint.  I work on commissioned paintings.  I craft and sell things that I make.  I build websites, and surprisingly, this hobby of mine for the past 15 years has turned into the income that has carried us through paying the utility bills and the necessaries for our family.  It does seem that God brings me a job just when we don't have anything left.


Still, I've had a rough week.  I took one look at our bank account the other day and had a meltdown.  Where is the next dollar coming from?  Well, Bob is putting out fliers this weekend in several surrounding communities to do yardwork.  He does a great job of landscaping - putting down lime, seed, fertilizer, aeration - that kind of thing.  He has all the equipment and has been using it.  Fortunately, spring is almost here and it is time to start the Spring season of yard work.  Pray we get a few yards.

I've noticed my readership dropping off and I can't really blame anyone for that but me.  I thought it was time to be completely honest.  Yes, I'm putting myself out there, but I think it is in the sharing that we heal.  I know I need to heal.  I'm hurting and I'm scared and I'm feeling pretty down about things.


But know this - I know we are not alone in this struggle.  I know there are so many of you out there hurting in the same way.  That, too, is why I thought I should write this post and share my feelings and experiences here, because no one in this distress, having lost a job or a home or both, should feel like they are alone in their struggles or their pain. 

I'm praying that our country bounces back quickly.  Our people can't wait any longer.  WE ALL need help to start building this economy again.  WE NEED to take our country back from China and Indonesia and India.  WE NEED our spirit and our life back - not next year, not next month - NOW.

I love you all.  Thank you for listening.



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