You were hoping this would not happen to you. You worried about it, and ran through a hazy, far-away “what if …” scenario in your head, finishing up with “Ah, I’ll be alright.” Now in an instant, the moment you dreaded has arrived – you have been let go for whatever reason. At that very instant (which seems like a slow motion movie montage) you experience a multitude of emotions: fear, disappointment, anxiety, panic, and perhaps anger. Your body goes numb and you have that hollow feeling all over. Your mind is racing as you attempt to stay focused enough to gather your belongings and clean out your desk. Your supervisor is standing beside you watching you pack and both of you would like to be anywhere but where you are. You have worked the whole day, you’re tired, and now this?
As you drive home, you try to figure out what you will say to your partner, and that is a conversation you really don’t want to have. You will have to reassure the family that things will be alright while in your mind you are deeply concerned. You scroll through upcoming family plans and start crossing items off the list. Vacation? Nope, that money stays in the bank. My remaining vacation day’s pay will go in the bank as well. New car? Nope, can’t take on payments now; we’ll have to keep this car a little longer. New iMac for daughter Judy and iPad for our boy Elroy? Nope.
Eventually you sit down with your partner and discuss finances. What are the basics costing us: mortgage, groceries, insurance, phone plans, etc? What are we going to cut out, or downgrade? What are we going to do for dental, vision and healthcare? Will your [partner’s] plan cover any of this and if so, how much? We’ll have to roll over my 401K plan … and try not to dip into that. And then there’s the hunt for a new job and applying for unemployment …
It’s been two weeks now since you were “let go.” You’ve rolled over your 401K, applied for unemployment benefits, and started cutting expenses. You’ve gone to a “basic” cable package instead of 600 channels, HBO, Showtime and Cinemax. You stock up at Sam’s Club and only buy Member’s Mark products. You are walking more and driving less, whenever possible. You’ve started using coupons! You have eliminated Starbucks and eating lunches out. You’ve started to evaluate everything you use, touch, and do to see if you really need it.
Then there is the new routine that is your life. Now you don’t have to be up at 4:30 and out the door by 6:00 because you have no job to go to. Now all of a sudden you have ten more hours to fill. After the first week you convinced yourself you had to come up with some form of a schedule to feel like you were accomplishing something and moving forward. You get up, shower and get dressed even though you may not go anywhere. You get the kids off to school, answer email and look for jobs online and in the paper. Have to keep busy … don’t want to get into the “what if” again. “Will we be one of ‘those families’ on food stamps, using pantries and soup kitchens, and living out of our car? Nope; sure don’t want to think about that! Won’t go there; it tires me out just thinking about it.” So you wander through the house looking for things to do, things to fix, and things to clean up or throw out. There is a nagging sense of being lost and uncertain. You think to yourself, “Man I really need to get a job and soon too.”
In Part 2 we will take a look at what job hunting is like in today’s employment environment. Stay tuned!