Monday, February 09, 2009

Trying to be Laid Back about being Laid Off

I frequently think about blog topics in the middle of the night, or when I'm driving, or sitting in a waiting room - times when actually writing the blog would be very inconvenient or impossible. Now that I am sitting at my actual computer, I find that my mind is a blank and all the interesting items I thought about mere wisps in the ether. So I will meander through several current topics by way of update and see if, perhaps, one of them prompts a lost memory to return.

Michael lost his job in January. We had premonitions as early as October when, after an initial round of lay-offs, a senior manager said something to the effect that everyone left was safe until after Christmas. Michael came home that evening and told me he had 55 days of guaranteed employment. It cast a bit of a pall over our preparations for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. On December 22, his boss confirmed that the lay-offs were going to happen in January and that Michael would be one of the hundreds affected. We did not want to put the kibosh on anyone else's Christmas fun, so we kept that news to ourselves and even after Christmas only told a few people. I suppose we hoped it wouldn't really happen, but it did.

We have been through this before and know how to batten down the hatches and live lean, but it is discouraging to have to do so again so late in Michael's work life. Another five years and he could actually retire, but those five years of work between now and then are important to our plans for retirement. Everyday we read in the paper about thousands of additional layoffs in companies all over the US, but in this case, misery particularly does not love company. The more layoffs, the more competition for jobs that are already scarce.

It has prompted us to discuss alternative income sources. What could we do to make money? That is a challenging topic and one that we will be giving a lot of attention to if Michael's job search is not quickly productive. I have also thought about attempting to work part-time despite my health problems, but I am really at loss about what I could do. The telecommunications career I left behind 17 years ago is prehistoric by today's technology standards. My skills in sales and marketing would polish up pretty quickly, but I don't have any good ideas about who would like to hire a part-time sales and marketing person whose health is fragile. I can't stay on my feet for more than 15 or 20 minutes without serious pain, so retail jobs are pretty much off the list, as well as substitute teaching. Since necessity is the mother of invention, I'm hoping that, if our situation gets really dire, I will figure something out.

Meantime, I have to get my medicare updated to include prescription drugs and perhaps a more comprehensive medical plan than traditional medicare. I am so thankful to have medicare. Michael's company offered us coverage through COBRA for a mere $900+ per month. Not happening. Doesn't it seem strange that the insurance options for people who have been laid off are so expensive that you need a job to afford it? Another similar conundrum is that uninsured people get charged the highest price for medical services when they are the ones least able to pay it. I really don't get why people object to a single-payer insurance system for this country. Obviously, the medical/insurance industries object because they might not have so much cream to skim off the top of the milk bottle, but why do ordinary people object? They obviously have never had a medical or insurance crisis to deal with.

Someone quoted scripture to me today to the effect that God chose the smallest to carry the biggest load. What was she thinking???


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