On July 16, 2012, my position had been eliminated. Not just mine, but 125 other employees who, just like me, loved their speaking jobs in the local high schools. Yep, the company was “ending” this side of its operations after 35 years. It was a bolt out of the blue. Or maybe a zing. It was coming for some time, but I loved my job, so tried not to dwell. Then it dropped – the weight. Clunk. Right there in front of me.
My heart was in my throat for most of the conference call. Little flashes of catastrophe were clouding my vision. Do I get severance? What about health insurance? What about vacation pay? References? My livelihood? And … my sanity. I was 55. Who would hire me?
So, herein lies my eight-month journey:
Fortunately, I am an eternal optimist. My first thoughts: my husband and I will be fine. The severance package was decent, plus all vacation pay should carry us through at this income level for about four months. I saved a tidy sum through the company’s 401k plan. That will be rolled over into our investment fund. Oh, and unemployment! I must sign up for that immediately, I was told. I’d have the rest of the summer free, basically, and can help with my daughter’s upcoming wedding. (An iota of glee there.) And, oh yay! I could hang out at our cabin as much as I please for the summer.
Hey, is this such bad karma, I thought? And lest I forget – I have a Washington State teaching certificate. I’ll renew it, and substitute teach until I find permanent employment. (Do I really want permanent employment again?) Unemployment prorates my wages while I substitute teach because it’s not permanent work with benefits. I could get used to this. I had time for lunch with friends, my workouts did not suffer, and I had time to visit my aging parents. Life was good.
The Possible Bad
It’s been eight months since the layoff, and we haven’t had to touch the severance fund. The economy in Seattle, where I live, is robust. We have some of the nation’s best companies headquartered right here. Amazon just contacted me for an interview for an awesome position developing business relationships. But, who will hire someone who is five or so years away from retirement? And I haven’t had a ton of interviews. But this subbing gig is working out. And I must not let the age thing get me down. It’s time to demonstrate energetic interview enthusiasm. (Yay! I love your company, and I want to be part of the team!)
I’ve since sent out 300 resumes, and I’ve had only three interviews so far. I’m a straight-A student – what’s happened here? I’m technologically with-it: LinkedIn, Facebook, and electronic submissions of resumes and cover letters. I’ve been out of permanent work for so long now, that I just qualified for the Emergency Unemployment Compensation through the Federal Government. I hope it doesn’t get so ugly that this runs out. If so, I can continue to substitute, as I don’t really want a permanent teaching gig. And, the optimist in me keeps reassuring me that I can do this until I really want to retire. (So, take that, ugly side.) I do have options.
Well, in retrospect, since the “Good” paragraph is the most lengthy, I guess this layoff thing isn’t so bad. Or ugly.