I received a phone call from the restaurant guy. I was driving back from a conference, where I had been a speaker. I was feeling great; my sessions went well and I had time to spend with my sister–always big fun. I saw that he was calling from work, so I figured he was making sure I was on the way, and that everything was ok. He’s good like that.
“I am not going to have a job tomorrow”.
For one wild moment, I had the crazy thought that something really horrendous had happened. He is not an impulsive fellow, and even though he wasn’t happy at his job, he wouldn’t just quit. Somebody must have done something really bad.
He went on to tell me that 50 restaurants in the chain were closing and that his was one of them. As I listened to the details, I got excited. He seemed a little surprised when I told him this. However, in my opinion, this was a great opportunity, mostly because there was a severance package with his salary paid for two months. He could have more time to look for something else (while getting paid) and have some down time at home. He is a real fix-it/build it kind of guy, but never has the time or energy for projects.
After the initial flurry involved in a full shut down, the dust started to settle. He has started a back yard project involving lots of sawing and hammering. It’s interesting, initially he was just supposed to fix up and repair, but finds it impossible to function that way. He has to rip out or tear down everything wrong and start fresh. I have enjoyed watching him work on this project with his usual careful precision; mostly because I am not made that way. It’s also been very nice to have him around. His work hours have been late and endless for so long, that I forgot what having him here on a regular basis was like.
This will come to an end soon. We can’t afford to live on one part time salary, and severance only lasts so long. However, this down time stops the endless daily treadmill and allows him to weigh his options, as well as to determine what is of value.
It seems like many of us are descendents from people had it rough and were determined to improve their lot in life. Our forbearers were Eastern Europeans going through pogroms, Irish experiencing the famine, slaves, or persecuted Jews. Somehow through the generations, many of us have inherited the drive to constantly strive and improve, earn more, gain more. We forget to stop and look around, and enjoy what we have, as well as each other. Unemployment is allowing us to do that. Make no mistake, it can be worrisome with a house payment looming and three kids to feed.
However, it is also a gift.