My husband lost his job. Don’t panic. This story works out well – I wrote it to encourage you, and also to document for myself when I worry about things in the future. Harry had been teaching for more than a decade. While he loved teaching, his school was over an hour away each way and the pay was not even industry standard. Still though, the fact that he had a job was a blessing. The fact that our family had insurance was a blessing. We reminded ourselves of that over and over again, but the daily facts were hard to handle.
We had watched things at his for profit university crumble for years. It started small – when the economy tanked we kissed the company ‘end of year’ party good-bye. Not really a big deal because we can’t pay the bills with two drink tickets and a henna tattoo. Next there was a pay cut, then a freeze on yearly increases that didn’t keep up with the rise of inflation as it was; those were big deals. Harry took extra classes to make up the difference; essentially working extra hard for the same pay in a world that was getting more expensive….. and that was fine, until they told instructors they couldn’t teach extra classes. *sigh*
Insurance was great to have, we certainly got our use out of it. While we still were insured…. the coverage became less awesome over time. Higher monthly premiums, higher deductibles, less options. I know this was a common experience, but just saying; it was just another thing that made things difficult to just keep our heads above water. Freelance by Harry and myself filled in the gaps.
One day before Christmas break two years ago he called me to let me know half his department had been laid off, no warning. Right before Christmas. Super classy. Harry’s job was safe, or was it?
The economy was sorta stabilizing in other areas, but not at school. Harry was working more freelance and I was taking on more sponsored posts and ads to keep things steady. He had started looking into other options. Teaching was his passion, but not many colleges were hiring in their Art Departments, those that were had dozens, if not hundreds of highly qualified applicants. He applied, but nothing seemed to come through.
All the while he was working more and more freelance web work, I honestly don’t understand it all – but he is really good with computers and coding, and fancy smart people computery stuff. An opportunity came along to apply in web development.
It was kinda scary because it was a complete change. I suppose I should say it was scary for me, not for him. This was honestly probably a better fit than teaching. What’s more – this job offered slightly higher pay, better benefits, and was 10 minutes from home rather than an hour. So he interviewed, and then interviewed again.
It was down to the wire – last interview – him one day, another guy the next week. Important people from the company spent hours with each candidate and Harry felt it went really well. Both interviews happened and we were just waiting to hear one way or the other. He had other interviews lined up because of course he couldn’t count on this one working out; but the timing among other things would make this so perfect. The break between school quarters was coming up which, if he was lucky enough to get the job would provide the perfect two weeks notice without having to cut into the middle of a quarter. He didn’t want to leave students or anyone in his department high and dry.
We were at home one random Thursday just talking about how it sure would be nice if he got that new job, but again, happy he had a job. Harry didn’t teach on Thursdays so it was ‘work freelance in your pjs day’. Then he got a text.
His dean emailed and then texted minutes later “Mandatory faculty meeting at noon today.” Um, it’s 11am and we live an hour away…. I thought maybe he had forgotten about a meeting up until that point – nope. Brand new, not announced until this moment meeting. That cannot be good.
He threw some gel in his hair and sped to work. He and a couple other guys who had dropped everything to get there in an hour got the awesome news that their department was kaput, they would finish up the semester and then bye bye. None of you have jobs anymore, thanks for coming in. My husband lost his job. Fantastic.
Here’s where they softened the blow though…. severance pay based on your years of work and money for two months of Cobra. Cobra STINKS….. but it’s better than no insurance at all, and better yet that we didn’t have to pay for it. We felt thankful in that moment that at least he had started the ball rolling in a job hunt. At the risk of jinxing ourselves we talked about how fantastic it would be if he got the new job. Severance pay gave everyone basically a couple months to find a job before they would have to apply for unemployment, which of course we didn’t want to do. Oh it sure would be cool if he got that job, he had a head start!
“That would be an obvious blessing.” He said.
“Yeah, but I mean, we just don’t deserve that, we don’t trust very well, we are grumpy, that would just be too perfect, and I don’t know if we deserve that. I just think we should probably buckle down and prepare to not get the job. We are blessed we both have freelance and you have severance – and we have 2 months of Cobra paid for. That is a nice enough head start. Your chances are only 50/50 on that job and you are awesome, but I just feel like it could take you a long time in this economy to find a job, you have been looking for months and so far nothing has worked out. I just think you need to keep looking, I’ll apply for more work and I will meal plan better, but I mean, I just don’t think it’s gonna happen, it would be too perfect.” Me. I like to think of myself as a realist….. others might call me un-supportive and that is probably fair – I was stressed. In a round about way I was trying to say “We should be careful, and look on the bright side that we have a buffer.”…. but it came off as a bit Debby Downer.
The next week he submitted more resumes, I cut coupons and put some beans in our slow cooker, we prayed a little and worried a lot.
He got a call two days after his last day of teaching. He got the job. He was job free for two days. He canceled the interviews he had coming up. His new insurance would start the day his previous insurance ended.
Severance pay won’t be needed to pay basic bills as he tries to find a job for months on end, we are putting it towards our last big project to get our fixer house up to code. We had already broken ground but were prepared to delay the project again until he had work. With this we can hopefully do it without any debt at all.
And it all worked out, like whoa.
He loved teaching; but being laid off when he was was a huge blessing. We are thankful. Why it worked out for us, I have no idea, but I needed to document it. Don’t be a naysayer like me, don’t assume the worst. I don’t feel we really ‘deserved’ to dodge the unemployment bullet, unmerited grace we think. We just kinda stood there blinking in disbelief when the official job offer came in. We are just humbled and thankful. I hope that is an encouragement to others that just might find themselves in the same boat.
One of our favorite sayings that I discovered during our first adoption journey is an old Russian proverb… “Pray to God, but continue to row towards shore.” Harry was so that guy, and I am so thankful.
I love you Babe! Happy New Job!