Today, my husband Luke and I mark our four year “anniversary” of losing both our jobs on the same cold winter afternoon. We celebrate it every January 28th because it was an odd blessing in disguise and proof that when you have people who care about you and the will the succeed, you can overcome trials in your life.
We were newlyweds, working as TV reporters in Sioux Falls, South Dakota at the same TV station. We had moved our lives to SD not even a year prior when we were told in separate rooms that due to a pending bankruptcy in the parent company, we would no longer be employed. We were two of several laid off that day and the really annoying kicker looking back is that they wouldn’t tell either of us if the other spouse had lost their job. It was a personnel issue. Can you believe that? My immediate reaction was to cry, so I did. And, then for some cruel reason I said “I just wish I would have known this before we got pregnant.” Ha. I don’t know what happened in my mind at that time. I wasn’t really pregnant. I think I just wanted to make the “powers that be” feel as bad as I did. Crazy me – I know:) I quickly confessed that I was kidding.
Anyway, following frantic phone calls and text messages to Luke, gathering a few items and having my favorite co-workers follow me out the door to see what happened, I ended up back at our rented townhouse. Those caring co-workers came over and eventually Luke finally appeared at home. We may or may not have both hit the liquor store on our way home. Many tears were shed. The stories of our almost simultaneous lay-offs were told over and over. We were numb. We told our families. They were numb. It was really, really hard.
We got two months severance pay, which I now realize was more than generous. Not everyone is so lucky. We spent our cold winter days applying for jobs, visiting friends and family back in Iowa, taking day trips to museums and science centers, working out, watching free movies from the library, visiting the dive bar in Crooks, SD with our friends, and we even went to the Black Hills in Western South Dakota for a few nights with Luke’s dad to escape Sioux Falls for a bit. Honestly, there are sometimes we miss those days – not every married couple can say they spent two months alone doing whatever they wanted! And, boy did I catch up on scrapbooking!
So, that’s the short version of our two months of uncertainty. I soon got a job in Des Moines and we moved back not even three months after that difficult day. Luke collected unemployment while applying for jobs and being a stay-at-home cat dad for a few more months until he got a job as well.
You may think it’s just sadness or bitterness in this blog post. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We were never happy in South Dakota. I was never happy working in the TV business anyway. I’m just too happy-go-lucky. Murders and “leads that bleed” just weren’t right for me. We worked our ASSES off! We made no money. We worked every weekend. And, we saw very little reward. I don’t regret this experience, however. The video skills I learned on the job have carried me to two jobs following this where that knowledge set me above the rest of the pack. For that I’m grateful.
That brings me to today! We are so incredibly blessed and content, and really have been since we moved away from South Dakota. We own a house in a charming area of Des Moines. Luke has had promotion after promotion at the financial/insurance company he works for. And, I’m just about to celebrate two years as a Marketing Manager for touring Broadway productions at Iowa’s premier performing arts center. We have friends – sometimes I think we have too many to keep up with. We live close to our families. We’re involved in the community. We have most of our weekends free to be happy. The blessings go on. These are blessings that likely wouldn’t have happened, or at least not as quickly, had we not been let go from our jobs in January 2008.
So, as we look at high unemployment numbers and limited job opportunities even for people with college degrees, it is with extreme gratefulness, and yes – pride – that I write this post. Never give up! If your dream is taken away from you in this recession, find it elsewhere. Or, assess your life – is what you’re doing REALLY your dream? I am now sure mine was not.
Thank you to the universe for aligning the stars for the Evans family’s recession comeback. It’s truly amazing that things really do happen for a reason. And, thanks to everyone who was there for us as we journeyed from distraught to delighted.
P.S. Here’s a short CNN article on what to do if and when you are laid off.