The Colors of a Recession

The Great Depression, to our 4th-grade eyes, was all grey and grainy, like the photographs in our history textbooks. We learned to fear poverty from the woman in Anne Liebovitz’s photo. This was, in fact, the worst thing that could happen to capitalist America. But they promised us this wouldn’t happen again, so we didn’t worry. But as adults usually do, they made up little white lies so that us children felt secure. So this recession did happen again, and it hit many quite hard.

I’m the first person I personally know who has gotten laid off. I knew it was coming because my company hadn’t been doing well for awhile. However, the actual act of the layoff was still jarring to my sensibilities, and I burst out crying as soon as I left the room. The worst of it was that they wouldn’t let me come back to pack up the next day; I had to be out and turn in my key that very same day. They told me at 4pm. Gee, thanks.

Well it turns out the pink slip was actually white with the blue letterhead of the company, and with it in my hand I shut the door to my fourth floor office that had been my home for over three years. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to many of the people who had been my family. Lots of memories flooded through my head. But when I arrived safe at home, a huge wave of relief rushed over me. I had hated that job, so that accounted for some of it. But mostly it was just that the worst had happened to me and I could stop worrying about the prospect of getting laid off because- I got laid off. Now I could finally get down to business and start building a new life for myself.

Picking up the pieces didn’t come easily, although they came mercifully quickly. The layoff was on a Thursday; on the recommendation of a friend I went to a seafood restaurant and got a job there by Monday. I had enjoyed waitressing as a teen, so it wasn’t my bottom choice of jobs. However, I had to be trained for a month, and all during training I was earning 8 dollars an hour. I think I only earned 700 dollars the first month, working 60 hours a week. This gave me a huge taste of how the ‘other half’ lives…all of a sudden I found out firsthand how the immigrants and recently released convicts felt. It is HARD to earn a living at that wage.

Fortunately I have some connected friends, and a friend of the family recommended I apply to a doctor’s office where she worked. I got a job scanning medical records for the switch to a completely computerized system. I was very happy about this because it meant I was off my feet (which had since become warped and gross from the waitressing) and in a calm, controlled atmosphere. I earned a steady wage there too. I kept the waitressing job, because by then I was out of training and earning quite a bit more money.

For awhile I worked 50-60 hours a week between the two jobs, and I was bringing in the cash with a rake. It was so much that I was able to pay off my car a year early. It was what motivated me. No car payment?? Heck yesssss! I was quite proud of this achievement, but then I was ready to rest. I cut my hours at the restaurant and at the doctor’s office so that I was working 40 hours a week in 4 days. Why? THREE DAY WEEKENDS EVERY WEEKEND HECK YESSSSS!

With my schedule and my finances taken care of and under control, the last piece of the puzzle was getting health insurance again. This should be a blog post on its own, but for now suffice it to say this was one of the greatest struggles for me. I finally decided on and applied for a plan that will cost me oodles of money but should hopefully protect me in case I get into an accident or come down with cancer.

My life is now back together, and actually better than ever only 7 months after the layoff. By going from pink slip and white collar to blue collar and in the green, I actually achieved goals that I wouldn’t have been able to had I stayed on at my former company. This I can only attribute to the American values of hard work and God’s grace. Perhaps not so ironically, I should note that the first three colors I mentioned (pink, white, and blue) are similar to the colors of the American flag. I firmly believe that if this situation that happened to me had happened in another country, it would have taken me twice as long to get myself back on track. This is why I still believe and trust in America, and know that as long as Americans are willing to work hard we’ll come out of this ok. That plus God’s grace makes us the greatest nation on earth!

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2 Responses

  1. I’m glad your life has come to this point. I remember when I first saw you after you were laid off. You were a wreck and very scared about the future. It’s fascinating what can happen with God’s grace and good friends and family. Since you got your new jobs, I have yet to hear you complain about how much your work sucks. That is a complete flip on your work life from before. It’s great.

  2. I’m so glad to see you blogging again!

    Also, perhaps Barack Obama will add green to the flag. HECK YESSS!!!

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