Back a few years, when I was working a job with a stress level so high that I was getting anal fissures (you know it’s bad if it is making your arse bleed–nothing good makes your arse bleed–and, yes, my doctor said it was stress), I had someone who kept telling me to just quit. I tried explaining mortgage, and diapers, and food for the child, and kept getting back, “Just quit.” I couldn’t quit without finding another job first, and in 2008, no one was hiring for my line of work, at my grade of pay.
“Just accept less money,” came back at me. Easy to say, isn’t it? But I was having a hard time finding something else that paid less, too.
I did end up getting laid off, and my severance package and unemployment helped us limp through the next 3 months, until I found another job–paying $10k less base than I had been making. When you took away the bonuses, it was more like a $15k pay cut. It hurt. Although, I did use the time to potty train Thor, so that saved us about $200 a month in Pampers.
Because B has always been very good with our finances, and because we bought a house and cars below our means, we were okay. We weren’t going to starve, and I never had to make decisions about whether to buy milk or diapers. Still, we were extremely fortunate that B never lost his job, and that I was able to find one before things got bad.
Over 14 million Americans are unemployed.
PlaySpent.com asks you to imagine you are one of them. Imagine you have lost your job. You are a single parent. You are down to your last $1000. Can you get a job and make it til the end of the month, until your first paycheck?
I’ve gone through the scenarios 3 times and never made it more than 9 days–because I’m a rules girl and afraid of going to jail, and when I crash my car into someone else’s, I pay the damage instead of hit-and-running.
Getting a job is not easy anymore. Losing a job is terrifying now–maybe less terrifying than it was in 2008, but we’ve also gotten used to living on my pay cuts. Unemployment isn’t just a lazy people problem. Unemployment happens to good people, to smart people, to well-educated people, to highly skilled and experienced people. I challenge you to go to www.playspent.org and come away without a new empathy for the people who are struggling to get by.
“It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” Martin Luther King, Jr.