It felt as if time stood still the instant the pink slip was put in my hand and the pen was shoved towards me to sign the release “agreement”. But then a sigh of relief and then a rollercoaster of emotions in the months that followed.
The weeks leading up to that moment had been saturated with overwhelming uncertainty. Every week the agency let a department or a targeted individual –go. Our colleagues were dropping like flies and there was nothing we could do about it.
Despite the fact “ the agency” was as dysfunctional and leaderless as they come, there remained some glimmer of hope that the Powers that be would realize what a detriment eliminating our entire agency would be to the constituents/clients we served. Invariably, the only thing that was of real concern was the bottom line…the dollar dollar bill y’all AND THAT WAS THAT.
The inefficient management of state funds, better yet the blatant ignorance of what was actually occurring in the coffers was a large reason for this particular occurrence but is definitely not an unfamiliar scenario in the thousands upon thousands of cases of the now unemployed professionals across the nation…hell perhaps even the world. The incessant episodes of the left hand ignoring or not knowing what the right hand was doing in the overall business operations within fiscal management teams of conglomerates including the US Government, caused much of this recession. Agencies got complacent. Living off the fat of the land for far too long and creating sub cultures that slowly but systematically hollowed the purposeful functionality of their own businesses, imploded onto the workers who believed their companies had their best interests at heart or at least believed that the company’s purported purpose was actually viable.
Each day came and went until the unemployment ran out. Searching for a job, submitting resumes to companies that advertised their needs in the papers- often proved to be an exercise in futility. The protocol for the seeking employee is to communicate regularly, follow through and exercise professionalism at all times. This unwritten expectation for those searching was barely ever reciprocated despite two college degrees and more experience than many of those who hold public offices. Hiring companies hardly ever requited the seeker with any information regarding the position which made the task of searching for a job more taxing on the psyche than on pocket (at times) .
The savings that were intended for far off rainy days and retirement were demolished like a hot knife cutting through butter on a summer’s day. Thankfully I had saved something because it became supplemental income on those occasions when the “filler” work was not available. Substitute teaching for one of the best school systems in the country was fabulous; however, I soon found that the work was very sporadic and contingent upon holidays, or testing cycles.
The East coast was pummeled by snow and caused almost a month to creep by without any work because everything was under two feet of snow. During the same time there were similar catastrophes worldwide that were much greater. Wild fires in California, earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, tsunami’s in the Philippines and India as well as more snow in the upper northern states caused others to experience even greater loss than my unemployment. It seemed to humble the indignation and redirect the anger to a more proactive solution to financial woes.
So I got a paper route!
Getting up at the crack of dawn every morning can be incredibly daunting for any person but I had been prepared for early mornings while being raised on a farm as well as having 4:00 a.m. workout sessions during collegiate basketball days. Even with all of that, it was still no skip in the tulip garden to get up that early EVERY DAY but it was a part time job that was immediately available and didn’t require a lot of supervision!!! The latter is only relevant in that those early mornings alone allowed for thought…PENSIVE, DEEP, IN ZEN type of meditation and reflection about the emotions, heartbreak, and more importantly the next steps!
In those moments in the abject cold and darkness it was realized that the attitude and/or baggage needed to be completely stripped from my persona before going forward. There was no option to “check it at the door” for that implied retrieving it again and putting it back on later. The arrogance, pride, and “diva queen” had to make way for the individual who had temporarily walked in the shoes of those who had not made economic thrive their entire lives. Here I was, an upper middle class princess who attended the best schools, hob knobbed with the folk’s society deemed as high caliber- knocked back into reality by the loss of my JOB. The job had apparently defined who I had become and that is never a positive thing. I had committed myself to something that was incapable of loving back. Though I attended church regularly and shouted to the Lord when moved by the spirit, apparently subconsciously I was absolutely serving another and not in the manner that I had convinced myself to believe * cue the light bulb over head*. My heart was broken but undeservedly.
ALL THINGS ARE REVEALED
The taste of epiphany is bittersweet. Truth is a hard pill to swallow but invariably it makes us better.
In the midst of my journey the tangibles were very clear. Every time there was a need there was a solid support system. Every time there was a shortage the divine supplied…one way or another. The SEARCH continues but the experience endured has cultivated a HUMAN being who is stronger. Significant wisdom on “best practices for surviving a DIFFERENT KIND OF DIVORCE”, have also been instilled. Saving those dollars is absolutely critical for those unforeseen things, namely a recession.
Admittedly, the knowledge gained is nothing without effectual practice.
As off color as it may sound, It has been refreshing to be too overwhelmed with the day to day living to care about the social constraints we place ourselves.
“HOMOSEXUALS TO MARRY IN THE DISTRICT”…SO… “LIL WAYNE’S SENTENCE IS DELAYED AGAIN”…triple SO…. “Light skin vs. Dark skin”…you name it!
It became necessary for my fiscal and psychological survival to see a person’s soul first rather than prejudge their outward appearances for any reason. Anthropologically, we’ve all been “wired” to have prejudgments for sake of fight or flight, understood.
However, the FIGHT I endured while unemployed made it nearly impossible to flee anywhere without the assistance of someone else who was kind… and I humble and gracious enough to accept.