Back on January 4 , the day before I started a new job and ended four months of unemployment, I used a metaphor to describe how our shitty economy had affected me and my family. What I said was:
"So I am grateful to have received an offer and happy to accept it. All in all, it appears that we’ll be able to weather this economic shit-storm without major damage. The house is safe and we've got health insurance so we can hold catastrophe at bay!
But I do feel like we were right by the edge there. I mean, disarray and chaos were right there with us for a little bit. The storm surge came right up to the back porch before it receded."
In mid-September of 2008 I found out that I was being laid off. At the time I couldn’t have known what was about to happen to the economy in general and to the job market in particular but it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.
And as the months dragged on and our savings dwindled, the pressure and anxiety mounted and I began to think of my situation in a very visual way. I imagined that I was standing at the icy edge of a river. The river was rough, dirty and running fast. All manner of shit was tumbling and rolling in the water…big stuff like foreclosed-upon houses and repossessed cars and lots of smaller shit like broken shopping carts and used tires.
And I was standing on the icy edge…just trying to keep from slipping and disappearing into the maelstrom. (Somewhat overly dramatic? You think? Guilty as charged.)
Finally, I landed a new job. I matched my salary, was eligible for a bonus, a 401k plan, a pension fund and health insurance and took several giant steps away from the river of doom.
Soon after I started though, it became apparent that my new company was in trouble. I knew this when I accepted the job of course but it was worse than I thought. At the beginning of my fourth week they announced that our bonus program was being eliminated and they would no longer match 401k contributions or contribute to the pension fund.
So, OK. You know, still have the salary and can still meet my obligations. Maybe it’s just a short-term thing and some of those benefits will eventually come back.
Three weeks after that, they announced salary cuts across the board – a 50% cut beginning immediately and lasting for six weeks at which point our salaries would “go up” to 80% of the original.
So the river still rushes. I’m certainly not standing as close as I was five months ago but I can still hear it roar.
Only, the trashy rushing river isn’t really cutting it for me any more. It’s kind of played out in my mind.
When I saw this picture last week I knew right away, “There it is! My new metaphor!”