In a fog, I gathered up my belongings and put them in a box used to house paper for the copy machine, the sturdy ones that once had holes for handles punched into the sides, but not for several years. I guess it’s cheaper this way.
Minutes earlier, I heard the words that sort of sucked all the air out of the room. It was not a cliche Donald Trump dismissal, but one that was far less dramatic yet equally as punishing. I heard the words and not much else. At that point there were simply lips moving to the sound of the blood pumping in my ears. My focus was on trying to understand the vagary of why.
There was debate over who would escort me to my car, a longtime coworker or the station “bodyguard.”
The latter’s presence is standard in case a recently terminated employee becomes a loose cannon.
“Are there any opportunities available in your company?” I asked.
“The last time we talked, I mentioned that one position, but you thought the pay was a little low,” he replied.
“Well let’s talk about that again, because once one becomes unemployed…”
Yes. Once one becomes unemployed plenty of options start to look more appealing. You start to reconsider whatever it was that held you back from an opportunity, be it money or location. There is a certain clarity that comes with the need to feed oneself and keep the lights on.
Then again, there is a good chance that being fired is the most soul-sucking thing to have happen to you.
For me, this unexpected chapter in life began with an application. Not for a job, but for unemployment benefits. I don’t remember what my preconceived notions were about government assistance before 2 p.m. Monday, but I certainly know how I feel about it at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
I also don’t know what I expected when I logged on to fill out the questionnaire, but it was surprisingly simple and I got a speedy response. Thank you, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
When the future feels uncertain, I go into a sort of financial survival mode. I start thinking about bus passes, ramen noodles and eBay. I think, “Of course I can survive on indigestible dinners, and the RTA stop is a short walk through the snow. Also, I really don’t need 90 percent of what I own!” (which is mostly true). The thermostat drops and SiriusXM gets cancelled.
I will snap out of it soon enough, once I figure out how far my money will go. But for now, the purse strings are closed for business.
From finances to future employers, I was met with a barrage of messages on Day 2 from friends and coworkers near and far, all concerned and all ready to help.
There were phone calls bearing sentiments of friendship, private messages of commiseration and dismay, even a few public expletives for mutual former employers. I’ve been shopped around to dozens of news directors in the past 24 hours.
Something will come up. I believe it and I trust my family of fellow journalists and friends.
STUFF YOU NEED IF YOU GET CANNED:
Sign up for unemployment benefits ASAP! In Ohio, it takes a few days for this stuff to kick in so the sooner the better. CLICK HERE to find out how much you could get and learn the rules where you live.
Stay insured! The U.S. Department of Labor wants to help you with that.
My biggest fear is being broke. HERE is how you can create a budget with no income.