Friday, November 21, 2008

JANICE Lost her job . . . so what?

By l.t. Dravis

SOMEWHERE IN CALIFORNIA – Friday, November 21, 2008 – Janice’s life as she’d known it for more than twenty years ended last Friday.

The end came as a total surprise on what she expected would be another challenging but rewarding day at the job she loved almost as much as she loved her husband and their daughter.

Forty-six year old Janice had been an account executive since the summer of 1986 for a small but successful ad agency. She was responsible for managing print advertising for a regional association of car dealers. She considered her customers to be family and thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity to help them sell as many cars and trucks as their markets could absorb.

Janice had been at her desk for about an hour, working on her schedule for the following week, when the owner of the agency, Marilee Banacek (not her real name), came in and asked a rhetorical question, “Got a minute?”

“Sure do,” Janice said, waving Marilee in with a smile. “What’s up?”

Marilee bit her bottom lip, looked away for a long moment, then sat in a chair in front of Janice’s desk and said, “There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to tell you, straight out: I’m shutting down the business.”

“What? Shutting down the business? I know things are tough, but . . . ”

“The factory just announced it’s cutting off funding for co-op advertising.”

“Is this temporary or . . . “

Marilee sighed, “I got an Email early this morning announcing that, effective immediately, the factory has terminated all projects and canceled all progress payments.”

“All projects, all progress payments?” Janice asked.

“Yup,” Marilee said. “All projects and all progress payments, including last month’s check and the check we were supposed to receive next week. I’m maxed out on my credit cards, American Express has been calling, and I’m upside down on my house. With this credit crunch, I can’t borrow any more to keep things going. So, after thirty-two years of working six and seven day weeks to build this business, I’m 64 and broke.”

A couple hours later, after a series of tearful hugs and promises to keep in touch with 11 other good people who’d also lost their jobs through no fault of their own, with a small box of personal items in the back seat of her year-old Ford Fusion, Janice pulled away for the last time from the building she’d come to consider a second home.

As she headed out in traffic, all she could think of was how her husband, Tim, would react when she gave him the news.

Tim owned a small head-hunting company and business had been lousy for the last several months. He hadn’t billed a placement since August and still hadn’t collected that fee. With no money coming in, he’d been forced to lay off three assistants, and, for the first time in the twenty-six years he’d owned his own business, he was seriously thinking about closing down the office and looking for a job – any job – just to bring in some money to augment Janice’s paycheck.

For the first time in their twenty-three year marriage, Janice and Tim were forced to tap into savings to pay the monthly bills . . . Visa and MasterCard, mortgage payments, and loans on Janice’s Fusion and Tim’s two year old F150.

After deductions for taxes and health insurance, Janice’s $50,000.00 annual salary barely paid for essentials like food, clothing, utilities, and university tuition for their nineteen year old freshman daughter, Kimberly.

As Janice drove home, she realized that even though Tim had always provided primary support for the family, the simple fact that she could count on a paycheck every other Friday, provided a level of security she wasn’t sure she could live without. She also realized that not only had she lost a job, she’d also lost a group of friends she’d known and worked with for two decades; good people who provided a level of emotional support she certainly didn’t want to give up.

She walked into her house and realized that everything, while actually the same, looked different . . . she’d never seen the familiar through the eyes of someone who was completely useless, someone who was unable to contribute to anyone or anything.

Janice realized that her only challenge now was to get her emotions in check. She didn’t want Tim to see her like this. He had enough problems; he didn’t need to watch his wife come unglued.

Thank goodness, Janice thought as she cried herself to sleep on the living room sofa last Friday afternoon, Kimberly’s not home to see me like this.

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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