It was a day I’ll never forget…standing midway up the stairs looking down at my wife as she’s scrambling to leave with the kids as she takes them to school before heading to her part-time job. The night before we’d shared glasses of white wine and agreed one hundred percent – given the decision before us, I’d stay with the job. But in that brief moment…in my heart of hearts I knew it was wrong, and I know she did too…..
Last Tuesday I was given an option at my job. Take half your pay beginning December 1, or be fired and take three months of your full pay and benefits through February.
My daughter had just finished two days in the hospital fighting H1N1. The next day my son came down with H1N1. Two days later my wife came down with H1N1. Three days later all was well and it was my first time being able to actually deal with the reality of the decision before me. Before us.
A friend of mine who I respect fully called late Sunday night and dropped all kinds of entrepreneurial motivational words my way. They were sincere….they made me think and dream about what could be. Quite honestly it’s that euphoria time in your life where your chest gets filled with air and you think – “fuck yeah I can do that…I totally can do that!!!” But then that child screams, and the wife asks for help, discussions of bills fill legal pads, and reality creeps through every weakness you never knew you had.
We went to bed knowing I would remain in my job, despite half the pay, despite the slam to my ego having to walk in day-to-day knowing that everyone and board members knew what had happened. Knowing I was now a dying blip on the budget.
Then I woke up….and I knew what to do. I agonized, I talked with the wifey, I called multiple people, I stood outside Union Station freezing my hands off holding the phone and making sure I could hear every opinion from every person I respected….and then I knew. It was time to just leave.
In twelve years since I’ve graduated college I’ve never NOT worked. I’ve in fact been consistently rewarded for my work. I’ve been given raises, praises, and opportunities that I felt I’ve grasped. We’ve moved from mill house, to larger house, to a larger city. And yet…..I haven’t stopped to really understand my fortune.
I laid in bed with my seven-year-old son….and told him what happened. It was a huge stretch…but I’ve always been honest with him.
“So, are you upset daddy lost his job? Cause it’s OK, but I want you to know how lucky daddy is that he’s going to get a paycheck for the new few months.”
“Yes, but I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
“I want you to scream it to the world, cause maybe that’ll help me land a job, my man.”
“But in the meantime, you know what’s killer about this?”
“I’m gonna roll-up every day at 2:45 at your school with….the kickball. At least till it snows, then we’re going home.”
I’m a lucky lucky bastard. I talked to my best friend tonight and found out his wifey lost her job a month or so ago. I never knew. She’s no different than the thousands around the country. Some have no kids, others have many. Some got severance, others didn’t. Some are ashamed…..hell, we’re all ashamed. Some are about to find out a week before Christmas….some won’t have a Christmas.
Today I was put in my fucking place. Today I became a statistic. Today I was given a huge opportunity. Today it’s up to me to figure out tomorrow….