Shaking The Etch-A-Sketch

So there we are, cruising through a normal Wednesday afternoon, when the phone rings. It’s for me, it’s my office. They have unpleasant news.

I’m a full-time employee at my company, so I get a salary no matter what I’m up to. Lately, like the last 6 weeks of lately, they haven’t had a billable assignment for me. That means I’m costing them money, and not earning them any. This situation was only sustainable for so long, and that time had passed. They were letting me go.

So as I’m breaking this news to Meg, the phone rings. It’s for Meg, it’s her office. They have unpleasant news.

No, I am absolutely not making this up.

The client for whom Meg has been doing her work is so backlogged with customer orders that they have suspended their advertising campaign. This means there will be no work for Meg for the next little while, described by them as “a couple of days, or a couple of weeks.” So she could just leave her stuff at her desk, but until further notice there was no need to come in.

In ten minutes, we had lost every dime of income we had, save the $200 a month or so that Meg makes by teaching piano lessons.

Meg said something that seemed to resonate: somebody was shaking the Etch-A-Sketch.

Having given it a minute or two for the news to sink in, we both looked at each other and said, “Umm, what the f#$%#?!?” There was no way this could have happened. Not like this. The worst movie script ever written still couldn’t possibly match the ridiculousness of what had just taken place to us. We couldn’t believe it, and to a certain degree, we still can’t.

The good news is: whereas one of the other of us losing our jobs would be cause for one or the other of us having a semi-serious nervous breakdown, having it happen to both of us in that short span of time gave it such a surreal quality that we didn’t bother crying or getting angry.

So we just started laughing.

It’s been a couple of days now, and we’ve talked about what this means, and how we’re going to move forward. We had planned a family trip to Colorado to visit some colleges, that will have to be postponed until spring. Our son who lives in Michigan has gotten to the point where his earnings cover his expenses, so we don’t have to send a check up this month. Time to start paying attention to the little things again.

At this point there’s no reason to panic. Meg’s temp firm has a stop-gap position lined up for her that starts immediately, albeit at 1/3 less money. But at this point you take you can get. I’ll be filing for unemployment, but also the market for my particular IT specialty seems to be reasonably robust. So we’ll see how long this bout of joblessness lasts.

Over the next several weeks we will start turning the knobs, and make a new picture.

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