The longest vacation...

Lately, I've been relecting on the joys of being unemployed. No, I do not mean the practical "we can't eat and we're living in a car" kind of joys. I mean the layabout, read a book, do what I want, don't have to worry about what crazy person is doing what crazy thing kind of joys. I was lucky enough to enjoy that once in my life, a long time ago, and that must make this Way Back Wednesday.

Picture this, Sicily, 1938...stop! No, not Sophia's memory. I am not Golden nor am I a Girl.

Picture this, Austin, Summer, 2001. The month is July, that wonderful month just before it gets hot enough around here to fry an egg on the sidewalk. I'm being laid off because my job is moving to the home office, in a city I wouldn't live in for love, cash, or new luggage because of the weather. So, I opted to be severed and received a terrific severence package. I had benefits for 6 months, I had salary for 6 months. I could draw unemployment. And, the job market was hopping with openings everywhere. So, I chose to take a month off. I didn't look for a job. I didn't submit a resume. I didn't contact the state for unemployment. I did read a book a day. I was in my Martha Stewart phase, so I knitted a lot and I cooked a lot and did some yard work.

It was heaven. No deadlines, noone to answer to except Rob. A busy day was one when I chose to drive out into the hill country to antique shop. Too bad I wasn't quilting much then. Who knows what I would have made. I drank gallons of sweet tea and lemonade. And, I spent considerable time making a dent in a chaise lounge out on the patio. Sometimes sleeping.

Oh, how nice it would have been if that could go on forever. But, I knew that eventually, I was going to have to go back to work, so around the end of August, I started sending out feelers and checking the job websites and setting up a few interviews. I applied for unemployment benefits. The state considered me a difficult placement, which I didn't understand. I'm versatile as a gymnast in my skills. But, they called in everyone that they considered to be difficult to place for training sessions on how to get a job. I had to go in order to continue to receive the unemployment benefits. It was cool. I had interviews scheduled over the next two weeks so I wasn't worried. I decided to attend the training on the morning of 09/11/01.

They cancelled the class half way through and sent us home. By the time I got home, both towers were down. I remember calling my Mom and saying, I don't know what's happening, but just in case the phone lines get tied up and I can't get through, I wanted to call.

By 09/13/01, all my interviews were cancelled. Most of them had been in the travel industry and that industry tanked fast. It took weeks to get another interview scheduled. I got turned down over and over. Two weeks before my health benefits ended, my prior employer called me back for an interview doing the exact same thing I'd been doing, but for a different group, still located in Austin. I started that job 2 days before my health benefits ended and 2 days before I would have lost all my previous tenure with the company. So, I came back at a good salary, full benefits, and 2 weeks vacation a year.

I don't want to come across as someone with a "9/11 story" because those stories are about the heroes and the victims of that day and the months that followed. But, I was living then and stuff was happening to me, too and I wanted to share what was going on.


I've been asked if Way Back Wednesday is sponsored by anyone. No, it's just my own thing I made up to give me something to write about. Sometimes it can be so hard to think of something off the cuff to blog about and having a couple of days designated to themes is helpful for me. I hope I don't get in trouble for using the phrase. Someone probably has it copyrighted somewhere so let's keep it our little secret. But, if you have an old tale to tell, feel free to use Wednesdays (or any other days) to share.



Shirleymac said...

Thanks Lane! I'd love to do a Wayback Wednesday but didn't want to take from your idea. And thanks for sharing your story. 9/11 is about the people who died, and the heros, but it's also good to recognize the broader effects. It's like dropping a stone into a puddle of water. The ripples go on and on. In my generation it's "Do your remember where you were when you heard John Kennedy had been shot?" Yeah, I may not remember a lot but I sure remember sitting in that grade 7 classroom when I heard about it. Except the after 9/11 it had a wide range of more personal affects on people, their jobs and the way we live.. even in Canada. That's so neat about you finding a job in the same industry after all your other leads had dried up.

lw said...

Good story-- love the thought of lounging around drinking tea (instead of sweating over a hot keyboard.) I love how it worked out that you got your job back-- with lots of extra paid vacation that year!

On 9/11/01, our subcontracts admin Jill was supposed to be on one of those flights out of Logan. We didn't find out until around 10AM that she'd changed flights to stay another day and work out some details on the contracts. I remember the relief was so great I got teary-eyed and had to sit down. Two of my other coworkers return from Orlando with connections at Logan weren't so lucky. Boeing had a funeral service at Space and Comm for Chad and Ruben.

I was supposed to fly to Orlando 9/12/01 to go to launch site to do some sensor cleaning and inspections prior to launching a satellite. I didn't make it out there until the 19th, and the night before the flight, the president of our company (Boeing) called me at home and told me I didn't have to fly if I didn't want to (I guess some of the other employees didn't want to.) I remember walking through the airport on the way to my gate, looking for impromptu weapons, and bought a couple of jars of habanero salsa (like chunky pepper spray.)

Two years later I was on a flight back from Boston and realised that I still had my Spyderco pocket knife in my pocket. I have no idea how the metal detector missed it, but gees-- you think we'd have learned something, wouldn't you?

John Gray jgsheffield@hotmail.com said...

always interesting in reading about someone elses life.....

Elizabeth said...

Nice story. I loved the ending, particularly, as we found out yesterday that my husband's position has been eliminated. We have roughly 2 more months of salary. Hope we get a 'happy ending' like yours.

Oh, and my most vivid memory of 9/11 was watching the news and worrying about one of my dearest friends who lived in New Jersey at the time.

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

Thanks for sharing this story Lane. How lovely that you had the opportunity to lounge around for a while.

9/11 had a profound affect on many Australians as well.

I really enjoy your way back Wednesday posts.