The job I lost
The job I lost was difficult in the best of times, but it was rewarding. I'm a laid off teacher. Teaching was a twenty year dream and the result of a mid-life career change. I went to school in the evenings while working a blue collar job by day, and it took everything I had to stay awake after a twelve to fourteen hour day in working in the elements.
I loved being a teacher. I was the guy that came in an hour before school and left several hours after the school day ended. I volunteered for after school events and to coach athletics. The last day of school was the most heartbreaking day of my life - I thought!
What it's like being unemployed
In the beginning there is a tendency toward optimism, "I'll find something - I've always landed on my feet." This begins to erode as you work your way through numerous lengthy applications that yield no interviews. Then you begin reading your beads -finding fault with yourself. A certain paranoia begins to emerge. Why is no one calling; is it because I'm over 55?
It's been a year now. I've worked as a substitute teacher and gained satisfaction from that as well as a few good letters of recommendation. The only thing missing is a decent salary. Substitutes make about $18,000 a year.
It's little consolation that I'm one of many. I have two other non-teacher friends of similar age that are scrambling to get by; one worked in IT and the other in aerospace. I have a number of teacher friends of various ages that have also been affected by the current economic situation.
There is a recognition that life will never be the same. There still have been few calls for interviews and the few that I interview for end in rejection letters. The competition is fierce, and I'm sure there is a justifiable bias in favor of younger teachers. After all, who are you going to staff your bench with - a perky 24 year-old or someone who is - let's just say, not perky?
I've begun applying for any type of job. I heard somewhere that there is dignity in all work. Perhaps that is true, but my greatest fear is having an ex-student see me in a Burger King uniform (or any other). I'm sure they would be more than happy to recount my lectures on the value of an education. I can't return to my previous vocation because it was too physically demanding, and I sold my tools.
One thing I can say is thta I'll never again take working for granted. I've worked since I was sixteen and for the first 48 years of my life finding a job was never a problem.
For a long time the western world was sheltered from the harsh realities faced by many in the developing world. To gain perspective on the brave world we're now inhabiting, imagine two cylinders joined at the bottom with a hollow tube. One is filled two-thirds to the top with water, the other filled with just enough to cover the straw. Eventually, they will equalize. For sixty years we were the 2/3s full flask; technology and globalization are the equalizing agents. It was great while it lasted. Too bad CEO pay doesn't work on the same principles of fluid dynamics.
- Be grateful
- At a certain point it's necessary to look for anything; it's good just to get out of the house.
- "Don't surround yourself with yourself" - keep in touch with friends.
- Put on a brave face - nobody wants to be around a cry-baby (I know this sounds harsh, but it's the way I talk to myself).
- Volunteer - once again, it's good to get out of the house and this provides a networking source.
- Let go of the anger and self-pity