When I first needed a job, at age 16, I perused the Help Wanted ads in the back of our local daily paper. “No experience necessary” headlined a part-time job offer with the US Post Office. The excitement of potential and liberation pulsed through my veins.
I applied and the job of sorting mail into bags was mine.
Education and accelerated skill levels landed every job for which I applied. Eventually employers called and offered me work. By my 33rd birthday I employed myself and did so for the next near-30 years.
A 20-year stint in retail fried my soul, but filled my wallet (I calculated) with enough booty to release me from cash register bleeps and spread sheet-glare. Our business sold in the early spring of 2008.
Doesn’t this sound like the American dream? Besides, spouse and I determined we could catapult our collective know-how and kick-start a new, less-stressful and earth-friendly enterprise to fund our new American dream—retirement.
Still adjusting to the word retired, we flew east for a fall 2008 visit with a stop in NYC. Lehman Brothers closed its doors upon our arrival. We strolled through NYC’s famous tourist destinations, including Wall Street. Camera and microphone-laden news media crawled up and down the revered neighborhood. French television cornered my daughter for a man-on-the street interview about the collapsing market. We were on site and felt the buzz of the oncoming crash.
Who knew that financial catastrophe would make my resume irrelevant, or that I’d even have to compose a resume?
Well it did and it was time to find a job. Friendly with success, I studied the Sunday classifieds and tried to find a job category that would fit my skills—which were now less easy to define. Let’s see I use to
- Type really fast
- Take dictation
- Write for a newspaper
- Create and market events
- Lead charity fundraisers
- Freelance write
- Own a bookstore
- Wrote a book
- Owned and operated a successful business for 20 years
Advertised jobs included part-time hotel desk jobs, retail sales opportunities, yard maintenance, elder care, and social work positions.
The hotels smelled like “daytime” facilities, or were always advertising for help—both bad signs; there is absolutely no way on God’s planet that my feet would withstand a retail sales position; yard work—only in my own yard and with a chilled beer nearby; ixnay on the elder care, and I’m not qualified as a social worker. OMG! I’m not qualified for anything. I’m unemployable.
But I didn’t give up. The more I job-sought the deeper my despair. I’m over sixty, no longer thin, I tire more easily, and I’m smart enough to know when I’m cooked. One day while studying our finances I cried. There was nothing I could do to rebuild our savings and investments.
Our retirement business plan flew the coop with the failed economy. You can’t sell–even green products– at enough volume to repair the losses when the American community has lost its jobs, its homes, and credit lines riding that same coop-escaping bird.
What to do? What to do? I crafted a five-point plan.
1) Revive clichés like, tighten up the shoelaces and pull back on the reigns.
2) Keep busy and seek spirit-lifting moments.
3) Consume new ideas and learn more about the unknown.
4) Recall and reproduce the things I use to do that brought me joy when I didn’t have enough money to even budget.
5) Keep abreast of the world and find adaptability.
Fortunately, spouse has a technical skill that can’t be out-sourced, and he’s filling in some gaps with that—even though he had intended his skill to go in a different direction. This is a blessing, nonetheless.
My blessings are the unexplored and unopened doors that tempt my curiosity and the opportunity to discover what’s behind them; and the new comfort of knowing that my carbon footprint has reduced substantially.
I kind of feel like that 16-year-old girl again with the excitement of new potential and liberation pulsing through my veins.