The Unemployment Line


Following up on a letter from the federal government about the Trade Act of 1974 (who knew??), I attended a seminar on adjusted assistance. This all sounded like gibberish to me too, but let me continue.

My former employer shipped jobs overseas. That had a negative impact on the company, forcing the layoff of countless employees. The cuts were deep and took years to carry out. For months on end, everyone was jittery and unproductive as the rumors flew about the next round of “RIFs” (Reduction In Force). During the first few layoffs,  the HR department had undercover police on site; it was all very painful and embarrassing. Then the notices were more discrete and people just disappeared. I suppose management had a plan, but to be honest, the fact that the company has been slow to recover speaks volumes.

The impact for me was not enough revenue to justify my position; it was outsourced to an agency. After 15 years with the company, at 57 years old, I was out on the street. That lead me to this afternoon meeting at DUA.

I was to bring two forms of ID, my work search log and my resumé.  I dug through my closet for a dress, sandals and a scarf. When I signed in at the front desk, I was directed to a group of about twenty other folks waiting for the seminar to begin. I’m not being snobby here but come on folks? Don’t you want to at least give the impression that you are looking for work? Or, perhaps shorts, flip-flops and t-shirts are what you would all wear to work? We were given a huge sheath of papers to read and sign and for the next hour and forty-five minutes, the facilitator walked us through every sheet.

The final instructions involved signing up for a three-hour basic education test. It is mandatory unless you have a college degree. Yep, got that. Everyone else groaned at the thought.

I am grateful for the benefits. If I qualify, I am entitled to re-training in an appropriate field that will allow me to expand my career into areas I care about, ways to have an impact on the world, even if the salary isn’t equal to  my prior corporate job. That really is all I’m asking of life at this juncture.

4 thoughts on “The Unemployment Line

  1. I suppose you could consider yourself lucky that, at 57, you are considered worth the re-training. Here, in the UK, where people seem to retire (want to retire) so much earlier than in the US, I’m not sure you would be given the chance. Either way, a bit dispiriting, so it’s good that you have some much else going on, like the book. Good luck!

  2. Hmmm – 57. I’d have pegged you as in your 40’s, but that’s an aside.

    You might consider a career in Organizational Development. Your last 13 years amount to a graduate study about the ways an executive team can struggle with managing growth, you had a front row seat, and I’d guess you have the talent and background to make a substantial contribution to some management consulting firm – if you can stand the travel.

    Have to find some way to make yourself look older though… 😉


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