So you may have noticed that things have been quiet on the blog front lately. That's not because life here has slowed down at all, but because I decided what has been going on was best left out of the public forum. It's not anything with the kids. They are fine, on-track, adjusting, etc... it's me. 3 months ago I was RIF'ed at work, and that my last day would be Dec. 31st. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, RIF stands for 'Reduction in Force' and it's a polite way of saying, "It's not you, or the work you are doing, it's the position."
Ugh. Talk about one of the rites of passage that you want to avoid... All the frustration and fear. All the humiliation and feelings of worthlessness. The rollercoaster of hope and despair that follows. There are lots of stories that won't be told because I don't want to relive them, but I can tell you that I have a whole new respect and sympathy for the unemployed. Roughly 700,000 people in Illinois are unemployed, and in my area, it hit 16% this last month. That means more than 3 people out of every 20 who want a job don't have one (and that doesn't even count people who have completely given up, I found out.)
Suffice it to say, the odds are stacked against you. So what do you do?
Well, I figured out a couple things early on:
1) Lashing out at my former employer wasn't going to have any kind of positive net result, especially since I was still on the payroll for the next 2 months. (No severance package per se, but I got a 2 month warning...)
2) I needed to be deliberate about diet, excersize, and keeping in touch with friends if I wanted to avoid depression and look and feel my best at interviews.
3) Make lists and do them. Boredom => depression.
So that was the plan. Keep my mouth shut, healthy routine, keep busy, and pray something worked out quickly.
Turns out, keeping busy wasn't a problem. I picked up some short term contract work almost immediately so we were able to pay the mortgage and break even in December and January. It took 21 days for the state to process (and deny) my first unemployment claim. Granted I was denied because I was working, but the point is, if we were really depending on that money, it is a long time to wait.
Every unemployment story I've heard is different. Mine had a happy ending and what makes my story unique in this era is that I found a job 5 weeks after losing my previous one (although it was really 3 months of job hunting.) We are extremely fortunate that a lot of factors 'just happened to work out' in our favor the past couple months.
There are people out there who believe that everything they have, they earned. The implication is that you could have the same if you worked as hard as they did. It also implies that the guy that works three jobs to make ends meet doesn't work 'as hard' as they do. I'm of the 'everything I have is a gift' mentality. My new job is a mile from my house, the work will be nice and challenging, and I somehow retain my previous retirement plan.
I have a hard time believing I did much of anything to earn that.