The Best of Times -The Worst of Times

February 6th 2009:
As I carried 6 years of my professional life in two small boxes toward my car I felt nothing, no anger, no sadness, no disappointment. I knew the business was struggling for quite some time however like so many fools before me, I believed in the product, so I stayed.

The owner of the company became increasingly unavailable. When he was present he never extending any conversation beyond a hello or goodbye. When a situation mandated face time the conversation was brief. Note to self, when your boss deems it necessary to cocoon himself for extended periods of time, something is wrong.

His partner, whose work ethic equaled that of a politician tried to keep things light but it was easy to see through the forced smiles and overstated hellos. His dream of being a player in the world was slowly deteriorating. You could see it on his face, you could see it in the way he walked and ultimately you could hear it in his voice, something was terribly wrong.

The company was not failing from a lack effort or the existence of true talent. It was simply a boat with no rudder or sail. It lacked leadership and direction. For most of the last year it was difficult to enter the building and even more difficult to say anything positive about the situation. That’s one thing I won’t miss the negativity. It was corrosive, abusive and downright ugly at times. But it was all true.

My position was simple I offered basic business / management skills. I knew how to run a business and if I given the opportunity, who knows where that company would be right now. Unfortunately when you have two thirty something’s that think they know everything offering opinions and direction becomes futile.

It was quite surreal driving home in the opposite direction I was just driving an hour before. The only difference was the sun was high in the sky, not kissing the Gulf as I crossed the Skyway Bridge for the last time. I truly felt nothing, nothing toward the colleagues or boss I’ve been with every single day for the past 6 years. I also knew right then and there that I would never work for someone else again. It’s true what they say about working for others. What you give never equals what they take. You are just a number on a spread sheet at the end of the day.

I have always been able to find work relatively easy. However in my 35 years in business I’ve never seen the job market so thin. It is also difficult to take any interview given by a twenty something HR person or new promoted manager seriously. Watching them fumble through the routine hiring questions that you once used on others becomes irritating. When an interviewer seems more nervous then you there’s something wrong

Career Builder and Monster are useless in trying to find legitimate employment. I foresee the demise of both, but I still have to ask, why they are so popular? Then of course there are the website that will find you a job for $39.99. Don’t bother, you’ll waste time and money. So what can you do to find work?

The hardest thing about being unemployed is trying to keep your families spirits high. As the weeks turn into months my kids began to worry. Worry about things that you never want your kids to worry about. I knew it was getting bad when my daughter approached me and said. “Dad, don’t buy me any gifts for Christmas. Just make sure you get presents for Devin. (Her little brother)” I also realized my seventeen year old son wasn’t showering everyday. One day when I picked him up from school I smelled his dirty clothes. When I asked him why he wasn’t showering everyday or putting his clothes in the laundry he said, he was trying to save money. I also learned he stopped eating lunch at school, saving his lunch money in case we needed it. When I asked why, he told me he noticed sometimes I didn’t eat during dinner so he could go without lunch. I told him it was my choice to make sure there was enough for you kids. I ate; I just didn’t eat the same thing you did.

As the summer turned to fall Christmas was coming fast. I wanted to give my children a normal Christmas. So I took down the decorations from the attic and hung every Christmas light I could find. Our tree was put up before Thanksgiving and we were able to give the children a nice Christmas.

On New Years Eve I hoped and prayed for a better year to come. I watched as the kids played with their games and toys. I was able to give my daughter some new clothes which she proudly modeled. But as I watched the clocked ticked down to midnight I knew time was running out. If my prayers were not answered this coming year there was nothing I could do to shield my children.

This would be the last Christmas in our home. I also knew that sooner or later I would have to tell my children that we will have to move.

Well it’s February 6th 2010:
It’s been a year and I’m still unemployed and most likely going to loose my home. I only hope that I can maintain a positive outlook if not for me for my family. Because we used up most of our savings and equity in our home we can’t afford to pay for my son’s college next year. So he is considering joining the army. I will do what ever it takes to get him to change his mind. I know I could never live with myself in my son joins the service and goes to Afghanistan and dies.

I pray for better days. I pray for strength, but mostly I pray for my children so we can all get through this safely together.