In San Francisco, I now know more people who are unemployed than going to work every day. The horror began back in November when the quagmire on Wall Street still seemed far away. I remember talking to the folks back home in Boston and hearing tension in their voices. It reminded me of my childhood when we would hear of a winter storm over Chicago. You knew it was heading our way – it would just be a matter of time.
The first of my friends impacted by the economic clusterf*ck worked in various sectors of commercial real estate. Then came the friends working on government-funded development projects. Then came those working for non-profits. And then came the techi web people. Most are coping the best they can – job searching, networking, or traveling, or some combination of all three.
Last night a group of my girl friends and I went out to dinner. The goal: a friendly girls night for gossiping and fun. But the conversation soured and eventually turned to the inevitable: job security. It’s hard to have a good time when you are wondering: Should I even be out to dinner right now? What if I really need that extra $30 in two weeks? Needless to say I was in no mood for dessert.
I got home and chatted with Emily about the recent round of layoffs impacting the people we knew. It’s a bit frightening to think about all the what ifs out there. It’s scary to realize that I know more people on unemployment than off. During these times, it’s hard to feel happy about your present state of employment when you never know what conversations are happening on the other side of the door at work. When you never know if you are a company essential – or a nice-to-have- around person. And when you are a writer, you kind of think of yourself as a member of the art department at your local elementary school. Remember those? My point exactly.
Emily wanted to know when things were going to improve. 2011, I suggested? The answer is no one knows. We have our best guesses, our worst fears, and a Congress that is stalling on a stimulus package that I have no idea if it will work in the end. Right n0w, it kind of feels as if our country is one big drug addict – trying to hit up Uncle Sam on every street corner. It makes you wonder how much he has left to give.