Here's the full text of my Oct 21st (2009) column "Blessings Amid Recession"
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About a year ago, I was told I was being laid off. It was not entirely unexpected (in short order, almost all of the staff would be replaced). My employer wished me well and told me that, if I liked, I could finish the 20 minutes left in my shift. Shockingly, I refused this generous offer.
Within a few weeks, my car would begin to act its age, limiting my options to workplaces nearby or on bus routes. While I found work, it provided neither the hours nor the financial weight of Job Prior. As my job search continued, bills began to be paid in triage fashion, with the mortgage a priority and extras now . . . extras.
Gone were dance lessons for the kids, Brewers games and our plans to repair the roof and replace that troublesome car. As for that long-planned family vacation of 2010, well, that's been bumped to 2011. Knock on wood.
Welcome to the Great Recession.
We're not out of the woods yet - I'm still looking for better employment - and I'll cheer like mad when this lousy year is history. But here's the kicker:
It's not all misery and grief. The fact is, my wife says one of the most frustrating parts of this whole experience is that I still seem . . . happy.
Well, why not? After 14 years, my wife and I are still in love. I have four great kids, a house, two cars (one of which runs) and a valid library card. Give me a little jazz on the radio, and I'm good to go.
Don't confuse that with apathy. I miss being able to provide the extras for my family. I miss putting on a tie in the morning. I miss the feeling that I was contributing to the world in ways somewhat indicative of my intelligence and education. I miss, when all is said and done, having a dollar to spare at the end of the week.
But at this time last year, when I was making X dollars more a month, I thought I was broke. Every purchase and fee was an unfair burden, and life was ever so complicated and stressful.
The sad, silly little truth is I'd lost perspective, and just like in the movies, it took a disaster to make me see the light. Of course, in the movies, the disaster is only a hiccup, and by the end of the hour, the hero is back on his feet and better off than when he started.
Here's hoping I've got a little bit of Hollywood in my future.