Monday, December 19, 2005

Long time, no see!

It's been quite a while since I've posted. I've either been busy, depressed, or a wicked combination of the two. It's obvious that losing your job 4 days before you have a child will have a negative effect on you, but you really can't appreciate it unless it happens to you. The past 6 months of my life seems like something out of a Richard Lewis routine. My wife and I worked for the same company. A week after informing them that she was pregnant, she was laid off. The very same day, our financing company informed us that our mortgage would go up $480/mo, as our homeowners insurance went up, and our taxes were mis-assessed. Three days later, my wife was in an accident, and our jeep was damaged. We filed for reassessment regarding our city taxes, and the city forgot to do it! They only do these in July and December, so we will have to wait. To lower our monthly payment, we decided to refinance our home. We found a company that could reduce our payments to $860, and would approve me with my "less than perfect" credit. We had all but signed the papers to finalize it, and a hurricane knocks out their building! Two days following the hurricane, I get a phone call from the new owner of the company I was working for, and he tells me that they can't afford to pay me anymore, so I, and the other night dispatcher, will be laid off. The new owner's son takes my job, and since the other night dispatcher was friends with the owner's son, he is rehired, and continues to work there to this day. I still keep in contact with some people there, and they tell me that the owner's son and his buddy don't do anything. They'll leave for hours, and neglect their responsibilities. I have been told how much I am missed. Four days after that, my 2nd daughter is born.

There are plenty of people who make much less money than I was making, although I wasn't making an incredible amount, who vehemently oppose social programs sponsored by our government. They have been led to believe that there are people leeching off of their tax dollars, and this money would be better off remaining in their own pockets. The sad truth is that taxes are never reduced, only reallocated. The money that is earmarked for social programs is only diverted into something REALLY important, like the military or corporate welfare. I have never been in a position where I required any assistance before, and I am grateful that it was available to me and my family this time. Sometimes, hard working people get the shaft, and there are legitimate circumstances that warrant these social programs. I would not have been able to buy the formula my daughter needed! Luckily, my wife and two kids were able to get on WIC. We lost our health insurance, and the kids are covered by the State of Michigan. We also get $70/mo in food assistance. This is a help, but still isn't quite enough to feed a family of three (formula is covered under WIC) for a month! I have been diligently looking for work both nearby, and in various cities throughout the country, and have had little or no luck. The job market isn't very good right now, in case you haven't noticed. I do have a follow-up interview today in Kalamazoo, so hopefully that goes well. I have been collecting unemployment, but that is less than half of what I was making on my salary. The costs of our home when you factor in mortgage, taxes, city services, and utilities cost approximately 30% more than my unemployment benefits, which are the maximum allowable. If it were not for the generosity and kindness of our family, friends, and neighbors, we would have been out of this house months ago. My point is, bad things happen to good people. I did my job very well, and did not deserve to lose it. Neither did my wife. But we're going to survive, and we will do well. The job I applied for requires me to work 12 hour shifts M-F, a short 6 hour shift on Saturdays, an occasional Sunday, and on call 24/7. Add an hour drive each way to and from work, and that leaves little or no time for me to spend with my family. But I'll do what I can to make sure that they have what they need. I just hope they realize what they are asking of me, and compensate me accordingly. If they offer me a $300/wk salary, and I decline, I lose my unemployment benefits. I hope it works out.