I was sitting with a client, talking about changes I was going to make in my report to better reflect their business when my phone rang. It was the tribe's Blackberry which rarely rang. I got it a few months after I started a year previous because my boss thought we should all have them. I had not had one before and had no use for it, but took it because I was required to. That was one of my first warnings that something wasn't right with this place.
The only people who ever called me were my friend, Krishna, and my boss, Lori. Today it was Lori.
"You need to come to the office right now," she said.
"I'm in Housing right now but can come over soon."
"Just drop everything and come right now," she insisted. She never demanded my presence like that before. I excused myself and drove back to the office.
Walking in, I saw the head of human resources and one of his staff sitting in Lori's office. They never came to our office before as we were a few miles from the main office. "This doesn't look good," I said. He laughed.
"Why do you say that?" I said that they were sitting in Lori's office with checks in hand and that can only mean one thing.
"Oh, these checks?" he asked, blushing. Why is this man blushing? He is 60 something, with full beard and a foot taller than me and he is blushing. I was quite confused.
Lori said we needed to wait for Kim. She arrived asking the similar questions, looking baffled. We were told that the tribe has decided to reorganize and that our jobs were no longer necessary. "You will be on lay off status."
Normally, in my past, I might have gotten angry, or perhaps even cried. This time, though, I just sat and listened as I was given my severance pay, asked to pack my things and leave. The HR guy kept making jokes and telling us how angry and frustrated he was with the tribe. "I am planning to retire soon," he announced. Retire? Damn, I don't even have a job and I am supposed to give a damn about your life?
I kept my mouth shut for the most part, though I did say that there were a number of questionable practices and they just didn't want us looking.
For a few days after, I mostly sat at home, wandered the yard of the house I had moved into a month earlier and signed a one year lease, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought about the last 12 months, how we rarely had assignments, how Lori had said that the council was questioning why we were even on the payroll, how we often spent days doing nothing while the boss was either out sick or on another business trip.
I had been trying for the last year to start a business helping people plan their finances and had not been terribly successful. A year earlier I was living in Colorado and a year and a half before that I was in my home state of California. Where did I lose my mind along the way?
I have been unemployed for two months now which has been paid for with my two months severance pay. Now I am still without work, my business is not moving, I am trying my hand at writing and each day I search and apply for jobs. The depression catches up to me periodically, but my wife, Nee, has been there to help me. She hasn't worked since we moved here, leaving us with few options.
We can stay here and do our best to survive. I could move back to California and try to find work, but with no home. The last choice would be to sell all our furniture and two cars, get my teaching license and move to Thailand to teach English. Nee has a home there which would give us a place to live. She says she couldn't find work, though, because she is considered too old to work and would have to figure out a business. We have never had a successful business here and I doubt we could have one there, either. The end result would be we would have to live in her home with no air conditioning, and live on my teacher salary, about $2000 a month. Not a great choice, either. What to do?
As I have searched for work, I have found that there are many people, well-educated people, who have been out of work for much longer than a few months. Some have been out a year while others are 2, 3, or more years. I need to do something to get out of this.