Back in the day, before there was a recession, I worked as an operations manager for a radio station. For eight years I wrote commercials, produced them, scheduled them, and hosted the morning show that aired them. I hired people and fired people. I changed out transmitter tubes when they went bad. It was a decent gig. And then the owner sold the station.
The unwritten purpose of any employee is to reduce the owner's debt. Job well done, indeed.
Radio jobs in the area were scarce at the time, and I didn't want to relocate, so I looked elsewhere and found a job manufacturing control boards for heating and air conditioning units made by a company whose name you'd immediately recognize if I told it to you.
Since starting there in early 2006, I've been laid off three times, each within the past two years.
The first time was in May of 2008. It lasted about six weeks. Not really all that big of a deal actually. I got some time off during the summer. Got to swim with the kids, play lots of video games, rock out in Cleveland, and catch up on my reading.
The second time was in February of 2009. That one lasted until just after Independence Day. I played more video games, swam some more, studied harder than usual for my university classes, wrote a rather sunny post about the whole ordeal, and slept in. And I looked for work. Any work.
The third time was not a typical layoff. It came in late August of last year, and this time there would be no recall rights. The ones who had taken voluntary layoffs were coming back, and there would be more people than jobs. Once again they would be taking my badge from me. I went home one night and wrote this:
Home at 2:30 this morning. Finished reading a chapter and turned off the light at 3:00. And instead of grabbing my favorite huggy pillow off the floor and drifting away, I rolled over and embraced my wife.
I caressed her cheek. Brushed the hair from her forehead. Ran my hand down the length of her side and let it rest on the curve of her hip. Felt each shiver. And I thought about things we’ve been through during these 20+ years together . . .
Our first night as husband and wife when, in the early part of the evening of a very long day, we fell asleep on the floor of her grandmother’s cabin. How we held each other so tightly under a handmade quilt, having vowed before a great cloud of witnesses to never let go.
Following the birth of each of our four children. Even when she would have rather been sleeping, or throwing up, we held each other.
At funerals, weddings, and crappy movies.
Effortless embraces that carried the weight when words were used up or out of place. Thousands of times between the first and this morning. Each one – whether visceral, frisky, or subliminal – a touch, a point of contact between physical presence and myriad circumstances.
Today, I have to tell her that I’m being laid off. Again. I imagine we’ll hold each other. And, though mixed with tears and worries, it will feel like love. Like an unspoken commitment to make things work. She will bear the emotional brunt upon a backbone made of stuff stronger than steel. And in her embrace I’ll find the courage to get out of bed in the morning.
If I can convince her to let me go . . .
I haven't worked since. And while the math is easy, it isn't pretty: In 2009, I worked only about eleven weeks. The remainder of the year, when not swimming and playing video games and attending classes, I looked for work.
I thought about going all funny with this post. Telling you about how I'm starting to drive her and the kids crazy with my lack of hygiene and omnipresence. Or how I watch Dirty Jobs for ideas on what to apply for next.
But it's just not funny anymore.
The Upside? She still hasn't let me go. I will find a job. Regardless, we will continue to hold each other, and make memories that will last. Today is another day to either sulk and stay in bed, or get up and, as some guy in a movie once said, "Get busy living, or get busy dying."
I hope . . .
The Cheek of God
[Flickr photo is by cherwenka and is protected]
1 year ago