Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Out of Work Working Stiff

By Annette Dashofy

One of the best bits of advice I ever received as a writer was to marry someone with good health insurance.

Excellent advice.

But then the economy tanked. Last week, my supportive husband—he of the steady employment and decent health insurance—had his job phased out from under him.

It came as no surprise. We smelled hints of impending doom as early as last fall. This was followed by the stench of major lay-offs around the holidays. When the ax finally fell, it was almost a relief.

But that relief was short-lived. We’ve launched into what I can only term as the five stages of grief. Over the weekend, it was easy to live in denial. He went fishing. I visited some friends. It was all stuff we’d already planned to do. But when Monday rolled around and he had nowhere to go…

I’d have to say we’ve reached the anger phase. After being at that job for 32 years, the idea of pounding the pavement, filling out applications, and creating a resume are daunting. Not to mention giving up all the hard-earned vacation and sick days he’d accumulated.

“Get that book published,” he tells me.

I’m trying. I’m trying!

In the meantime, I’m selling Avon. (Mother’s Day is coming. We’ve got some great gift ideas at reasonable prices!)

Sorry. I slip into sales mode without warning these days. It will be great practice for when I have a book to sell. (Please, God.)

Is desperation one of the stages of grief? I don’t think so. Maybe it should be.

I suspect this is the hardest part of it. We don’t know yet how much we’ll be collecting in unemployment compensation. And we don’t know how much we’ll have to pay for that health insurance. I’m still researching new plans and coverages. It’s scary.

Yet in the midst of it all, I’m trying to hammer out my third draft of my wip with the goal of having it ready to pitch at the Pennwriters Conference in less than a month. Nothing like a little bit of distraction when you need to focus on perfecting a 90,000 word manuscript.

So misery loves company. Anyone care to share your employment/unemployment stories? I’m especially looking for those that provide hope. But if you want to vent, rant, or whine, hey, have at it.


Gina said...

Annette -
You and Ray are already doing the best thing - asking around about jobs. I got an early retirement offer I couldn't refuse after 19 years with the same employer. I was able to pick up another job almost immediately through networking -- just hanging out and telling people about becoming unemployed. Only one of those hundreds of people came through with an offer, but it only took one. Even though that offer came without the pay-and-benefits level I'd left behind, it has worked out. I also found a visualization helpful in job hunting. [OH NO, THIS IS WHERE IT GETS WOO-WOO!] I used this visualization to originally get the job I lost and its replacement: I pictured myself standing on my back porch while birds flew to me, bringing me dollar bills in their beaks. Sounds nuts, but it worked. There is also prayer. Rather than praying for a job, I tend to pray for the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Makes it harder to tell whether or not the prayer has been answered, but it feels more in sync with God's plan (whatever that may be). Good luck.

ramona said...

Annette, I can only offer my sympathy and wish you and Ray the best with the job hunt.

As for your WIP, I would buy it.

No, scratch that--I WILL buy it!

Bill Crider said...

Best wishes and good luck to both of you!

Jennie Bentley said...

Man, that sucks! Can't honestly relate, though, since I've never spent more than two years in a job before moving on to something more interesting. DH has never had a job with health insurance, so we've always carried our own and still do. The best coverage I've found here in Tennessee, is through the Farm Bureau. If your state has one of those, you should look into their coverage. No, you don't have to be a farmer to join.

I'll keep my fingers crossed, and if you don't mind prayers, I'll toss in a few of those, too. And don't forget the old adage about the door and the window!


Wilfred Bereswill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wilfred Bereswill said...

Welcome to the club Annette. I'm sure I mentioned it, but on December 12th, 2008 I went to find out my fate at Anheuser-Busch Inbev. It ended close to a year of miserable speculation about the takeover and subsequent cost cutting to pay off the debt of swallowing such a world icon as A-B.

I felt the relief as well. I finally knew my fate and knew that I had to move on. Actually A-B tried to handle the actually private meetings on that day very well. I remember they had the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) people out there. When they took me in to meet with, what I called a grief counsellor, she gave me those puppy dog eyes, reached over to touch my arm and in a somber tone asked, "How are you doing?"

A couple of potential answers flashed through my head.

"How to you think I'm doing BITCH? I just lost my F&%$#&*G job and I have three daughters to get through college, a house payment, a heating bill, Christmas is in 2 weeks... OH and then there's F^#%%$^G food so we can eat!"

But, alas, while I would have enjoyed getting that out of my system and seeing the look on her face, my Catholic midwestern upbringing kicked in and I honestly answered, "I'm good."

She confided to me that it seemed like most of the people she had talked to shared my feelings. Relief.

I jokingly told my wife that I was thinking of writing full time. She didn't think that was very funny and told me to get my f%^#*ng ass out there and find a paying gig. It honestly came out just like that.

I can attest that it is a major distraction and sucks the creativity right out of you. I got absolutely "0" done on my writing during those 2 months before finding another job.

In fact the previous 8 months, during all the rumors and speculation and worry I wasn't able to do much writing.

Better days will come though. hang in there.

Joyce said...

I'm one of Annette's beta readers, so I got to read the WIP. It's excellent. Great characters, great plot, great everything.

I'm not sure if everyone here knows my unemployment story or not. In July of 2008, I was called into the township manager's office and essentially told I wasn't allowed to blog anymore. He said my posts "painted the township in a bad light." I disagreed--my posts actually did the opposite. I never dished any of the dirt (and I can say now that there was a lot!), or talked about anything that wasn't common knowledge and already released to the media. And there's a pesky little thing called THE FIRST AMENDMENT, which apparently he never heard of. So, I was suspended, and then fired.

What upset me more than losing my job was the fact that none of my co-workers backed me up. Several of them were regular blog readers. The chief even gave me ideas of what to write about sometimes (and he approved one of the posts the manager didn't like but never said a word in my defense).

From things that have happened st the PD since then, I see how eliminating my job was all part of a plan.

The good thing is it's given me the opportunity to write full time. And the house is cleaner and I actually have time to cook dinner most days. And the state just extended the unemployment compensation another 13 weeks (yes, I do apply for the required number of jobs).

Laurissa said...

I think you and Ray are doing the best possible things right now from the sounds of it. I'm going to send good thoughts your way, and hope something comes through soon for you both. Hang in there! I'm so sorry you're going through this difficult time.

Patg said...

Sorry to hear it Annette, it really is one of those things in life that takes you pretty low. Did your hub get a severence package? 32 years, there should have been something which included the health benefits and then Cobra would take over for a while.
Sure hope he finds something real soon.

M Pax said...

I feel for ya, honest.

Sending you good thoughts.

Annette said...

Thanks, everyone. I wasn't here all day to comment because I was working an Avon booth at a job fair while my husband was attending a second job fair! During a lull, I picked up some literature for his consideration.

Ramona and Joyce, thanks so much. It would sure be nice to finally have some income to show for all the hours I've been locked in my cave insisting that, yes, I really am working!

Jennie, thanks for the Farm Bureau idea. We already belong! I just never looked into insurance through them. Avon offers some coverage, too. I just need to sit down and do the research.

Pat, no severence. Yeah, it sucks. And Cobra sounds nice, but will still eat a large hole in our savings to keep the coverage we have now.

And, Gina, if woo-woo will get him a job, I'm all in!

PatRemick said...

Oh, Annette, I'm so sorry about what you both are going through. I do so want to believe that whole one door closing, another opening for you. Just put your hand on the doorknob -- and maybe it's that WIP. If you need more beta readers before getting that WIP into the query process, count me in.
I'm on tenderhooks myself about the possibility of more job cutbacks and yes, it sucks. But it's also got me thinking about what's the worse thing that could happen? Glad you and your spouse have each other for support.

MaryQ said...

Annette - so sorry to hear about your problems. With today's economy, it's something many live in fear of. Years ago, I was laid off when my company downsized. I ended up working at a much better job for a much better company. So, hopefully, things will work out that way for your husband. In the meantime, I'll keep you both in my thoughts.
Gina's idea about networking is a great idea, too. I'm self-employed now, but ended up getting a new client simply by talking with another hockey mom at one of my son's games. You never know when opportunity will knock.
Good luck.

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