The long and winding road


This will be a long one.

long and winding road Almost exactly two years ago I was laid off from a corporate job that had me well on the road to a comfortable retirement.  The company was not making enough profit, so they cut the work force by 20%, saving the share holders $220 million.  I was part of that 20%.

The first few weeks seemed promising.  Looking for a job at 60 years old is a real challenge. Resumes, unemployment and a few interviews made me think that everything was going to work out.

I filled the extra hours with The Clash of Titan.  A painting challenge among friends that was chronicled on Lost Hemisphere (the blog).

As 2011 came to an end, unemployment and my military retirement kept the savings from going down very fast.  TempleCon and PAX East provided a pleasant distraction.

No jobs, no interviews, no phone calls, no emails….   After six to eight months I started to apply for jobs I would not have considered.

I settled into job search and painting models.  Models for me, commissions, gifts got done.  I am sure you can see a lot of that in last years blog entries.

In the summer, there was a birthday party and family gathering.  Nice to see my sister, mother and so much family.

September saw an extension to unemployment.  A little less money, things are very tight, pulling a little bit of cash out of savings every month.  I started looking at some really radical (for me) jobs.  Military merchant marine jobs looks very promising.  As I proceeded with this, my wife expressed that she couldn’t take my being away for months at a time.  Dropped that idea.

November saw the end of unemployment.  The only income was my military retirement. Medical insurance “Cobra” stopped too.  Time for a survival job, any money is better than ZERO.  Medical insurance and the mortgage is close to $3k a month, add on food, gas and household bills adds up to a huge sucking sound on the retirement account.

Applying at everything, retail mostly, Home Depot, Walmart and dozens more.  I finally got an interview for an auto parts store, they deliver to commercial accounts and needed a driver.  Kind of funny showing up in a suit for an interview in the back of a store.  We stood between a pallet of old batteries and a huge box of cardboard trash.

I was hired in December and I didn’t get any hours until the 2nd week of January.   Hard to swallow making less than 25% of what I used to.  That is still better than nothing.

The only break was visiting the in-laws for Thanks Giving and my Mom for Christmas.

January was getting used to a very different job.  I was getting 2-3 days a week at a store 10 miles away.  Moving oil, other fluids and all sorts of auto parts isn’t easy for someone who hasn’t had a physical job like that for almost 20 years.  Advil is a good thing.

TempleCon came and went, I had a cold and just felt like crap.

The Friday after TempleCon there was a huge blizzard.  My wife was on Cape Cod helping her mother.  They lost power and it wasn’t coming back for days.  The came up to our house.  It became very clear that Barb’s mother shouldn’t be alone.  She is 89, fragile and she can’t take care of a big house by herself.

The next weekend, we had to put our dog down.  It was the right thing to do.  I still miss her.

In mid-February I started getting hours at another store.  Closer to home, three miles away.  The manager wanted me to transfer to work there.

From the end of Feb, I was getting 35 or more hours a week.  Split between two stores.  A lot of shifts of 5-6 hours, so I was working 6 or 7 days a week.  Working from 11:30 – 5:30 pretty much shoots the whole day, maybe a little painting at home.

My wife was helping her mother sell her house.  A ton of travelling and moving stuff, some of it is up here.  The changes to my happy home are huge.  Taking care of an 89-year-old isn’t easy.  My wife has a huge job and it is 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.  She never gets a break unless I stay home on a day off.

My April, I had lost about ten pounds and I can work a 9 or 10 hour day without feeling like I have been run over by a truck…

I got a phone call on 1 April.  My mother had emergency surgery.  We found out soon after that she had stage 4 colon cancer.  Stage 4 means it is past the point of curing.  I took as many days as I could to do the 7 hour round trip to visit mom.

I am working at the crazy store and I want to transfer to the good store.  The good and badcrazy store can give me 20-28 hours a week.  The good store can give me 40 hours a week. The crazy store manager is in control and doesn’t want to let me transfer.  In my time at the crazy store 80% of the employees have left. Every manager except the general manager has left.  The general manager is good at his job and terrible with people.

4th of July, he had a screaming fit with a salesman in front of customer.  Screaming a cursing with no real reason.  angry manI have seen this several times before.  I heard that several phone calls got made to Human Resources about this.  The following Tuesday, he did it to me.  Details don’t mater.  I called HR and wrote a detailed note about my background, how I see the store as a hostile work environment, the loss of good workers.  I ended the note with my name a phone number.  A calculated choice.  The next morning, I had a phone call from the district manager.  He asked a lot of questions, thanked me for being so frank.  He said he would be at the store the next day to see what he could find out.

The next day he talked to me after he spoke to the general manager.  The general manager admitted anger problem.  He still has his job.  I was told that I was finally getting transferred to the good store.  The next week the commercial sale guy quit.

Going to the good store means full-time benefits.  Medical and such.  That saves a huge amount of money each month.

Mom was moved to a hospice and I got to visit her and had a long talk about how things seem to be getting better.  It seemed to cheer her up a little.

She was in hospice for ten days.

Since then it has been working and going to Maine to take care of Mom’s estate.  Work 5 days, lots of phone calls, two days in Maine.  Do it again.  Still trying to get back to normal, if there is such a thing.

sunsetTired, not sleeping well, but things are slowly getting better.

This week the mortgage will be paid off.  Thanks Mom…

I put in the medical insurance paperwork at work, it will start 1 October.

Things are slowly getting better!  I need to keep say thing……

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4 Responses to The long and winding road

  1. Rob LeBeau says:

    As my social circles keep telling me, “there are far more worse off people than you that are not as fortunate or live a life I live.” Keep your head up, every day is a new experience and hopefully a better day than the last.

  2. Erica says:

    Better is good. One day at a time. It’s stupid the manager wasn’t fired for his attitude, we have the same thing here at my job. I’m lucky my immediate boss is amazing. *hug* Keep going, you’re headed in the right direction.

  3. Lisa says:

    Our hearts go out to you and Barbara. Just remember the man upstairs will only give you what you can handle. Have to keep moving forward, a day at a time. It all has to get better. Prayers are being sent.

  4. PDD9 says:

    I think of you and Barb often. You are always in our prayers.

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