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DSW Ministries: Blog

The Unemployment Rollarcoaster

Posted on November 25, 2013

Unemployment is the rollercoaster ride you never want to be on. It is one of the most demoralizing events in someone’s life. In this day of uncertainty, we are glad to even have a job, any job. We go to work each day, giving 8 hours or more of our time, in order to keep the electricity on. If you are one of those fortunate few who love the job you have, it is easier. For the rest of us, we put up with the stress, anxiety, irritations, overtime, and long commute because we love our families. Personally, I am very fond of eating and sleeping with a roof over my head, so that’s my motivation. Ha-ha.

I finally had a job I liked, that was close to my home, and enjoyed my coworkers. My manager was really awesome and fair. Life was good. It was a temporary job, or what they call a contractor position, but I didn’t care that much about it, as long as they paid me. I’m cruising along, doing my job, doing a good job as far as I know, and feeling valued as a worker. Then the day came when the rug was pulled out from under me. The temp agency called and said that my assignment had ended. What? NO! I loved that job! How could this happen? There were no real answers to my questions. I don’t think I will ever know. That whole thing went down really bad. My belongings were still at work. They weren’t picked up until a week later, and some things were missing. Without my knowledge, my direct deposit was cancelled for my last check, and it was sent to me by mail. All the bills I had set up for auto pay bounced. I had to borrow money from my parents and friends at church so I could put gas in the car and a get a few basic groceries. I was thankful for family and friends who cared about us.

 I haven’t been unemployed since 2007 when I went through my divorce. My unemployment checks took 5 weeks to show up due to some technicality with my name. They still had me under my previous married name. Have you ever tried calling the unemployment line? You can only call on your designated day. You wait on hold and then the line disconnects you. You never get to talk to anyone. It is so frustrating!

Have you ever been to a food bank? I am not too proud to ask for help, but going to the food bank is an experience. Our church actually has a food bank that I volunteer at on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, the shelves were bare when I needed a basket, so I looked for other places for help. I found lots of assistance in my city. Some would give you a basket for the asking. Others had you qualify for it with proof of address, an interview, and waiting a couple hours. Some just have canned goods; others have meats, fresh vegetables, toiletries, pet food. I am grateful that these places exist. I didn’t feel guilty or ashamed for being there because I have donated many groceries and time at our food bank for someone else to benefit. I guess we all need help sometimes.

Thankfully, Brian was able to ask for overtime at his work. We cut our expenses drastically and made a food visits to the food banks to make all our basic bills. We switched to a Wal-Mart cell phone plan too. I really hate Wal-Mart, but when you want to keep your cars and your house, you don’t have any room for principles of capitalism or boycotting things you don’t care for. We didn’t eat out at all unless a friend or family member treated us. We were making it, but just barely.

We had just bought our house a couple of months before. We depleted our savings and maxed out on our credit cards just to get into the house. We didn’t plan it that way, but if you have ever moved or bought a home, your expenses always exceed those that you budgeted. The moving company took longer than expected to move our stuff. We had way more stuff than we thought. When we got in the house, we had to change all the locks. There were no thresholds on the doors. No hardware in the bathrooms, like a toilet paper holder, towel rack, or shower curtain rod. No screens on the windows. There was a robbery down the street from us. We decided to get an alarm. The roof leaked twice from a faulty plumbing job in the attic. We discovered we had a tick and scorpion infestation that the previous owner didn’t tell us about. We had to treat the yard and the house for three months to get rid of them. All of these expenses, although seemingly small, add up.

So that is why we didn’t have any savings left when I lost my job. We looked at our finances and saw that if I didn’t get work soon, we would have to sell one of the cars. I wanted to avoid that since it is much harder to get a job with only one car or taking public transportation. I had just gotten a letter in the mail from my old employer, stating I had some stock shares with them. I didn’t know I still had them since I haven’t worked for them in 3 years. I called to cash the stock in, thinking I was only going to get $150 out of it. Any amount would help us. It turned out to be 150 shares of stock! I was blown away. I cashed it in and then called my husband to tell him the great news. We had enough money to pay our bills until I got another job. It was good timing on God’s part because we probably would have spent it on more stuff for the house! So, that was an unexpected surprise.

Then comes the emotional part of unemployment. It is bad enough that you’re scrimping and reusing stuff, and eating Ramen noodles for three months. It is worse dealing with the job hunting. The rejection. Putting out tons of resumes and applications and hearing NOTHING. Going on interviews, and knowing you’re qualified, and saying all the right things, and then you don’t get the job. I had one job I interviewed for three times, and then they didn’t offer me the job. I got an email saying I didn’t have the experience they were looking for. Really? They couldn’t figure that out from the first interview? It took them three encounters to come to that conclusion? I knew it was baloney. I was swimming in experience- 7 years of it. It is insulting, that’s what. I had several interviews just like that one.  You really start getting a complex from it. You know you have skills, qualifications, and integrity, so why is no one hiring you?

People think it is fun to have all that time off. Think of all the things you would have time for! Well, that’s not really true. Your job right now is to get a job. Period. Not to take a vacation, not to hang out with friends all day (unless you are talking about job leads), and not to spend the day sleeping or even worse-on Facebook. If you don’t get a job, you will be evicted. They will repo your car. Your credit will be trashed. That hangs over your head all day and all night. So, I was in front of that computer looking for jobs, networking, filling out applications, sending out resumes, going on interviews, and making trips to the job center at the unemployment office. When my husband was home, we would watch TV, but I was still doing job hunting on the laptop.

I got plenty of emails and phone calls from college recruiters who wanted to know if I was going back to school. I had gobs of education, and all acquired without a student loan, thank you. What I need is a job! I also got calls from every insurance company and MLM on the planet. When they find out you are out of work, they come out of the woodwork, flooding you with emails and calls. First of all, I hate insurance. Secondly, I hate selling. Thirdly, I don’t want to invest money into a business. I just want to go to work and come home to my family. Financial stability is a myth in the MLM industry. It is not a free ride. You work 80 hours a week to get the business off the ground, and then to stay afloat, you have to make sure the customers and agents under you are working hard doing their part. If not, there goes your house of cards. How do I know this? I have done several MLMs and I have had a few businesses myself. Yes, I failed at all of them. I am not cut out to be a salesman. I’m not good at marketing, and that is what it requires.  There are those that thrive on that kind of environment, and I applaud them. But it is not for me.

I would get calls from temp agencies wanting me to take job assignments from my previous employer, for entry level pay. I left this particular employer for a reason. Working conditions were terrible. I didn’t want to go back there as a temp worker for half the pay. No thank you. The agency got pretty rude about the whole thing, not understanding my point. You just have to politely decline and move on.

I decided to take a temp job more recently because it was better than unemployment. It was an hour drive over at Metro Center, and it was a pay cut. But I took it because I was tired of not having any money. I wish I hadn’t taken the assignment because it was awful, but it was too late now. I had to go through two background checks and three drug tests. I wasn’t given a security badge, a desk, or computer access for 5 weeks. I had to be escorted everywhere I went. There was not any training. The computer systems would crash every day. None of the supervisors knew what was going on from day to day, and weren’t on the same page. The folks there were very nice, and I made a few friends. But the commute was really a trial. I was late home every night from being stuck in traffic. Fortunately, the job didn’t last forever.

I was waiting on a permanent job offer for the last month for a Senior Technician in Tempe. It would mean a higher salary, close to home, and it is a great company. The interview process is very extensive. I had an interview with the recruiter. I then had an interview on-site with the VP and the manager. I then had an interview with HR. They had me complete the background check before the job offer. That took three weeks. My college doesn’t exist anymore, so I had to provide my high school info to verify. Then they couldn’t verify one of the previous employers because the employer’s records didn’t go back that far. I had to provide W2s from 2006, 2007, and 2008. I had to get them from my ex-husband because I was still married to him during those years. Thankfully, he is a packrat and had copies of our joint tax returns. I then waited another week before the recruiter called me. She wanted to set up another interview with the manager. I did another phone interview with the manager and the recruiter. They said that they would be making the final offer by Friday.

I volunteered on Friday to help one of my friends paint her house while I waited for the phone call. It was a lot of fun to chat with the ladies and it was better than sitting around at home waiting for the call. At 3:00, the call finally came! The offer was for four more dollars than I had made at my last job. I have full benefits, free healthcare, and 2 weeks of vacation, sick days and a 401K plan. I start on December 9th. When God does something, he sure does it in a grand fashion! It was more than I ever expected. We have to survive on unemployment funds for about a month until I get paid, but I can eat ramen noodles for a while longer knowing I have a good job ahead. My husband won the HotWheels race at work that day too, and won $50. We have money to go out to eat and celebrate!

So it was a long time waiting for that job. It seems that God does answer our prayers, but he does it in his time. I’d like to say I was patient, but I wasn’t. Yet I am still grateful for the things he is doing in my family’s life. So, if you are trying to survive unemployment, I hope my story will encourage you to hang in there. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.