There comes a time when you are faced with a moment that signals a major turning point in your life. Sometimes that moment heralds brighter days ahead, and other times it serves as a harbinger of stormy weather and trials to come. I wish I can say my “moment” is an example of the former, but unfortunately it is of the latter. My moment came when I could no longer remove the red appearing on a spreadsheet.
I have a spreadsheet that keeps track of my expenses and how many months of money I have left to spend. This spreadsheet also has macros programmed into the columns to make the text bright red and the columns dark red to show at what point I will run out of money. It’s a valuable tool to have as a job seeker because, after all, you have to watch what you spend if you have no income.
Each time that red appeared, I take an hour or so to go over what I spend to see what expenses can be trimmed or cut out entirely. I cancelled my cable a while back, so that’s $50 Canadian per month back into the budget. I re-negotiated my land line and Internet costs a year ago last fall, so that’s $38 per month saved. Whenever there was a McDonald’s or Burger King coupon that offered a meal for only $3.00, I rationalized one day a week of junk food for dinner was not going to give me a heart attack and saved a few dollars a week there as well. Instead of going into a regular clothing store for shoes, jeans, or shirts, I tried Goodwill and saved money on a good deal. Once my analysis was done, the red would disappear.
Not this time, however. The red did not go away. I have cut all I could, and pulled my last rabbit of the fiscal hat. This is my moment I am talking about. By my calculations, I only have a few months left before I run out of cash and am forced to move out of my home.
This is the nightmare scenario job seekers have to prepare for in case it does happen. This is the day everything around you comes crashing down and you better have a plan to land on your feet when the floor gives out from under you. As a job seeker, I have considered and prepared for the possibility that day, that moment, would come. For the past year I’ve been going through my home and either selling, putting into storage, or outright pitching things that I needed to get rid of to lighten my load. I refer to it in my discussions with my employment assistance centre contacts as the Plan Z or “Oh S-” scenario. Most people have a Plan A or B in how to deal with things. I’m a planner’s planner in both my professional and personal life. My plan letters run from A to Z.
Despite the planning, my life is still going to undergo a very significant change. If I move out of my home, I either have to stay in temporary residence with a friend, a family member, social housing if I qualify, or a men’s shelter. Either of the choices means I lose my independence and become a person of no fixed address. There’s also the consideration of my retirement that I have painstakingly built up over time. Do I cash it now to give myself breathing room but at the cost of a tax hit and living in poverty during my retirement years, or hope that I get through the rough patch now so I can enjoy my golden years in financial comfort?
I now face decisions to be made that make my past job search planning seem like child’s play in comparison. I need to reallocate a bulk of my time to prepare for what will come and what steps I will take to handle it. This will affect my job search. This certainly affects this blog’s future.
I loved doing this blog. When I started the blog in March 2012, it began as a “thing-to-do” as part of a massive job search machine. It never was selected as a “Freshly Pressed” by WordPress, but that’s okay: that’s not what I was shooting for. It was not the most popular blog around, but again, that wasn’t what this blog was about.
The purpose of this blog was to draw attention to my job search, to help me return to employment. For the past 50 posts, I shared with those who followed my efforts what it was like to be a job-seeker in this jobless recovery. In those posts, I wrote about the catch-22’s of experience, the failure of employment centres, government, and business to recognize the serious nature of unemployment and its impact on our society. I showed how I stepped out of my comfort zone as a shy person by embracing social media as part of my job search that showcased my willingnes to work. I stressed that being unemployed does not mean you are lazy or should be treated like some sort of social misfit. I shared with the reader my good and bad job search moments, my depression, and my rock bottom moments that made me wonder if it was even worth carrying on, yet in the end I found a way, thanks to supportive comments from people, some even coming from fellow bloggers. I touched on the personal introspection the job search gave me and my willingness to adapt and consider new alternatives . I also discovered, despite being out of work for so long, that I have reason to be grateful for the things I have while still being humble enough to admit my failings. Most importantly, I shared all of this under the uncompromising glare of public scrutiny.
It’s only fitting that I end the blog the way it started, with the picture of the “Business Man” statue near the St. Clair subway station. No matter what happens to me, I still want to be like this statue. I want to go to work, and by thunder I’m somehow going to find a way to do it!
I’m not deleting the blog, though. The blog will stay up for as long as I maintain an account on WordPress. It needs to stay up. It tells a story that is very important to read. We have a serious unemployment problem. It is my hope someone, like a captain of industry, a member of government, or a social activist with clout will read this and do something to make things better for people like myself who who have the desire…the right…to work.
Until then, as I’ve always ended in each post, “Thanks for Reading”