Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Worst Has Yet To Come

Yesterday at work, the company emailed everyone a copy of its severance pay policy. Should we be laid off, we can expect a week’s pay for every year we’ve been working at the company. Since I’ve been there less then two years, I’ll get the minimum two weeks should I be laid off. It was apropos that the company sent this out on the same day the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced the biggest single-day loss in its history. Gamblers and conspiracy theorists are surely examining the extensive numerology of 777 for clues to the influence of the Bilderbergers and the likelihood of hitting a trifecta at Belmont Park.

Some of my coworkers described what we might do with our severance pay. One of my co-workers said he would spend it high quality cocaine. Another said he would move to Belize where his money would go much further.

I would get a gun with my severance pay. I first thought of a handgun but settled on a rifle that would be better to hunt deer and moose to eat. One moose can feed a family for an entire winter. It was good that I and my coworkers could joke about it. None of us have mortgages or families to feed.

And this is going to be a tough winter. Even if Congress had managed to pass the $700 billion bailout package today, our problems would not have been solved. Things are going to get worse before they get better.

I was laid off a little over a month after the September 11 attacks. I did not find gainful employment for a year and three months. Unemployment is fun at first, but it goes sour quickly when work doesn’t turn up. I will never forget the angry and confused desperation that sets in with long-term joblessness. There were second and third-round job interviews that went well and still resulted in no job, temp agencies that wouldn’t even speak to me because I was “overqualified,” and job ads that turned out to be scams.

I lived on unemployment and after that ran out I found various odd jobs. I also was lucky to have a family that was generous enough to give me a little money now and again. Without them, I’m not sure what I would have done.

The country is facing an economic crisis worse than the one that followed the September 11 attacks in 2001. It may be another Great Depression, or a decade-long recession similar to what Japan experienced in the 1990s. Nobody knows how it will end, but know that we will get through it, somehow.

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