Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sitting idly by...NOT (My Sacred Life, Sunday)

I learned a few days ago that a good friend had been laid off. She was working for the same company which had laid me off in November.

When I heard about it, it made me more angry than I ever felt over my own loss of a job. Her life circumstances are much different than mine, and her length of service to the company was considerably shorter--this means that she was probably offered a pathetic separation package.

It is easy to blame my former employer, but I know that's not where the blame belongs. Just as any corporation which sees falling sales and rising expenses is doing these days, the people who run that company are trying to survive. Keeping their own jobs, of course, is the highest priority.

The sorrow I feel for the millions who have suffered the same fate as I did but were nowhere near as prepared for it, is intense and deep. And, it is really no consolation to know that the people who benefited the most from the crazy, uncontrolled financial markets of the last decade have lost more than they ever gained. The insanity which was the derivative-instrument market made up of subprime mortgages which, when piled all together, were supposed to suddenly merit a lower risk categorization than the mortgages did when originated brought down the high and mighty, but it also has brought all of us, all over the world, to a very difficult and tenuous position.

A few of those vile, greedy monsters will go to jail, and many people who were blameless in the schemes but were foolish enough to invest in them will lose their shirts. When you roll the dice, don't ever pretend to know what's going to happen. If you forget it is a wager and come to believe it is a sure thing, you will lose. It is only a matter of time.

I'm a student of history, and it is hilarious (or would be if it were not so sad) to see people make the very same mistakes that their parents or grandparents made about 80 years ago. People are easily lulled to sleep and often difficult to rouse. How else can one explain the fact that we in America re-elected in 2004 the worst president in the history of our nation? We simply weren't yet awake, as a nation, to how much damage a truly incompetent person driven only by self-interest can wreak in as short a period as four years.

Now, we know.

America has done the right thing in bringing to the presidency a man who has all the gumption and backbone so vitally needed right now. He needs all of us behind him now, because this is going to be a really tough task, this 'turn things around' challenge. No worries, those of you who don't like him. Feel free to rant all you want as the rest of us fix this mess.

My own situation is hardly dire, but it is discomfiting. I continue to do my best to honor my family through my service to them, to honor my country through my efforts in support of those who have the best shot at turning this thing around, and to honor anyone who shows up here with the words my heart sends.

I feel closer to my wife than ever, thanks in part to the greater amount of time we are able to spend with each other. I'm very grateful for her unyielding support of me as I waver some days on the brink of depression.

In the months since I was laid off, I have made some new friends thanks to the internet. Who knows if I would have found the time or lucked into their electronic worlds if I had a job?

It was a person I used to work with who got me off of dead stop when he sent me a job lead. That lead didn't pan out, but it did inspire me to get my resume all shined up and to get my butt over to the offices of the outplacement company to learn how they can help. Since then, I have only found a couple of leads which merited emailing my resume, but I am actively looking now.

While the pickings are slim, the simple act of proving I am willing to work by looking for work will be the magic key. The universe responds by giving us what we ask for as indicated by our own energy and actions. At this point, I have no idea how I will find a steady income, but I know I am telling the world that I am ready, willing, and able.

It is impossible to describe in a fashion which will allow you to fully grok what the value of the past two months has been to me. I learned that I am not my job. I learned that I can come back from what was a devastating blow--even knowing it was coming, I had no idea how hard it would hit me to separate from a job I had held for more than twenty years. I learned who my friends are--the people I used to work with who made the effort to stay in touch are just the people I would have guessed would do so.

Most importantly, I got to know myself better as I worked through the grief. My appreciation and valuation of myself is sweeter today than it ever has been because it is real and honest, not a false front put on to fool the people I meet and work with.

Some employer out there is going to get really lucky at some point soon. They will have the chance to hire me.


Lynilu said...

I'm afraid we all are susceptible to the laziness of attitude that accompanies the good times, and coupled with the greed of those who hold the reins, is a formula for the disaster we have around us now. It is sad.

I'm glad your work friend booted you in the butt. In these times, we need each other more than ever. Nationwide, we need to pull together and lean on each other more than we've done these past decades. I'm old enough to remember that as being "the American way." It's time for that to come back.

It is good to hear you are in there at the point. :)

Rick Hamrick said...

Lynilu, thanks for stopping by and chiming in!

I feel a change coming...a change sorely needed, and one we can definitely accelerate. As you point out, this country came into being and has survived the trials and travails of centuries because we know how to pull together and get the job done. "The American Way" indeed!

My vision is to have America not only resuscitated itself, but to lead a rejuvenation of the world. After all, we played a huge role in creating this mess, so we are obligated, in my mind, to be just as powerful an influence in recovery.

Julie said...

My struggle may not be quite the same, but I AM learning so much from you and others who have fallen into this situation. I had to sit in a meeting with 3 clients last week who are still convinced Obama was elected solely because he was black. I kept my mouth shut but did not bother to wipe the smirk off of my face. I'm angry that I didn't get up to leave, and I am angry that I held my tongue.
For me, a different kind of fear exists too, like some sort of "survivor's guilt" that makes me feel as if the best and the brightest don't have jobs, why do I still have mine? I want to be part of a bigger picture here. I want to do something other than worry.
Rick, I have no doubt that the next company that hires you will be thanking their lucky stars that you were available. Selfishly I hope it means a move for you and Julia to NC - but whatever._:)

Olivia said...


It is so good to see a posting on your blog again; I am sure that you have so much to share from the extra time you have, and I appreciate this post very much.

I like Julie feel that "survivor guilt" thing, and want to help out in whatever way I can...with the country's situation, I mean. I won't mind paying more taxes as we have enough money to do so, and so we should. If we don't who will? Where will the money come from?

I hope Obama is able to do a good job, the job he wants to do; I also hope that we remain safe from terrorism as he tries.

I think of you often, my friend, and agree that someone is going to be very, very lucky soon when they hire you!



Rick Hamrick said...

You know, Julie, my wife mentioned exactly the possibility of moving (it won't happen soon, as we still have one kid in high school, and I'm not leaving town until she is safely graduated) to NC just recently.

We used to wonder how we could do that and me remain employed. Not a problem now!

I wonder, still, if the folks who opposed Obama have even a hint how insulting it was to America to bring in a pretty face who spouts complete nonsense as a way to invigorate the McCain campaign.

Seriously! I asked my very-smart and wealthy sister back in October how she could support a ticket which included an elderly man with a history of cancer and a person who could not pass a 10th-grade civics exam as his emergency replacement. She never did answer that email message. I didn't ask it as snarkily as I just portrayed, either. I was asking completely out of curiosity, not to be picking a fight.

Some mysteries are best left unpoked, I some snakes.

Rick Hamrick said...


Our combined faith and optimism will see us through. We will each know our jobs in pursuing the recovery from our current financial crisis, even if we are not conscious of our assignments.

I'm on board, and I'm so happy to know that you are too, Olivia.

kikipotamus said...

Rick, this post is full of so much good energy. You go! My thoughts are with you.

Jane said...

Hi Rick!

My brother got laid off from a very high paying sales job last week. He's a natural though with solid experience and he's always desired "the good life" and does what ever it takes to make it happen.

When I think of my own job, I'm amazed that I still have it. I work for a tiny company that was tackled like a linebacker with the harsh economy.

I'm a firm believer in the paths that are laid out for each one of us. It sounds hokey but I do believe that when one door closes, another opens. Example: look at the new connections you've made. A shift in your routine has brought you closer to your wife and to others out in cyberspace. Something better than your old job is probably right around the corner.

Angela said...

I know, Rick. I can hardly watch the evening news anymore as every single day now there are thousands more lay-offs. And I, too, have had to figure out that I'm not my job, but I got a head-start back in February of 2008. :) I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and know you'll land something soon. In the meantime, thanks for being open and honest and allowing us a glimpse into your life.

ladybug said...

You've got it right! They will be lucky to hire you! ;)

Your post reminds of very much of the lesson that my mom would always repeat to us as we faced challenges in our life: You can't choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it.

Good for you for keeping your attitude in a good and healthy frame of mind!

Angela said...

Hey, I heard it was your birthday yesterday and just wanted to stop by and say I hope you had a great one! Happy belated, rick.