I tell my own personal story here not for sympathy or derision, but as a touchstone for others to open up and tell THEIR/YOUR story without judgment or scorn and to shine a bright light on a serious problem in our American society….the collapse of the American middle-class and the pain endured by all of us out here scrambling for security and shelter. This is for all of us who are struggling while in the ‘pursuit of happiness’. This is the plight of the American jobless.
Two years ago I was living a comfortable life as a small photography studio owner. I had a small client base and brought in a small income. Living in a very rural area in southern-middle Tennessee, I felt lucky that I stayed in business for as long as I had.
I had a lovely wife and two brilliant, beautiful daughters, two cats and a beautiful 2-story Colonial style home on a breezy hill. Bills were paid, wife brought in the bulk of the house income while I tried to build the business. Having a long history in publishing, technology and journalism, I was convinced things were going to pick up as I was doing all of the day to day business activities myself and had every confidence in my abilities.
Then two life changing events happened:
The economic Apocalypse began to unravel and the housing boom went bust. Everything I had saved vaporized in a matter of weeks. This devastated me.
Then my wife, who’d just survived a horrible battle with cancer, decided she wanted another bite of the apple and informed me she wanted a divorce. This crippled me. Not only emotionally, but because she’d been bringing in the funds…it crippled me financially, as well.
Does it make me proud that my wife was the breadwinner for years? No. It was emasculating and left me very vulnerable to criticism. That being said, how many families see the husband bringing in the money and the wife stays at home to pursue her interests? It is a double-edged sword,…a double standard that is rarely spoken about.
Now in the process of divorce and soon our beautiful 2-story Colonial style house on the breezy hill will be sold. We hope to break even, yet bought during the ‘boom’ so our home’s value has diminished greatly.
Over a year has passed since I began desperately searching, scouring the job boards and ‘networking’ on every available forum on the web and in honest-to-goodness face to face meetings. I have had exactly two interviews and an email box stuffed with rejections. I am jobless, soon to be homeless it appears and dancing on the fine line of keeping my sanity for the want of hope.
I have met dozens of people in person and thousands across the vast job forums that are standing on the brink of massive personal and financial failure. These people aren’t lazy, under-educated or unmotivated cretins as some would have you believe. These folks are recently laid-off or let-go employees that sat by and watched helplessly as the economic sector raped and pillaged the financial landscape causing businesses to trim staff, cut budgets and ultimately reduce their workforce. These people are Americans. Good Americans! These people have been blindsided by the massive greed and corporate hubris that took away not only their jobs, but their self-esteem, their future and their hope.
Many of those lost jobs are never coming back. Near-slave labor offered from far off countries snap up whatever jobs these companies have off-shored. This is fantastic for those countries’ GDP….and devastating for ours. Those of us out here scrambling for a future cannot all work as Walmart greeters or call-center jockeys. To imagine a pool of such extraordinary talent sitting idle and watching that work/resume gap widen every day is profound to consider. The skills, work history, solid experience, years of schooling, and creativity are mileposts all of us have earned and are proud of. We have a world of knowledge and valuable wisdom. We are Americans! We are human beings! And we are not just going to ‘go away’ as some would like us to do.
So, I ask….What Do We Do NOW?
I ask that you do whatever you can as often as you can to give someone a hand UP! We will not forget the gesture. We will thank you profoundly. You will help save lives of those that may save yours at some point. Not to mention helping to save the children that are forced to endure the poverty spiral due to this economy. Be your brother’s keeper. Let’s talk here and just help…please.