Monday, February 9, 2009

Just How Bad is it Out There?

A few months ago, I was at the ATM at the credit union, chatting with a lady who was painting an advertising mural on the union's windows. We got to talking about the economy. She mentioned her husband had just been laid off from a job as a painter, and was looking for work. That, I'll admit, was my first hint that this recession was going to be more than something they jabber about on the television.

There, but for the grace of God goes I, I suppose I could say. I actually hit my financial and career nadir iin 2005, when I quit a job I didn't like any more. Took more than a year to find the job I currently have. Learned a lot in that year. Learned that you find work where you can, and often work two jobs to make sure things keep going. I hated that worse than I hated the job I left. I'm glad I'm happy where I work now, glad that, at least for the moment, things here appear recession-proof. I've survived three layoffs here already, and look to survive another one coming up in March. I would not want to be job-hunting now, given the economic climate. **Knocks very loudly on wood** Maybe I'm lucky I did my career hopping four years ago. Maybe that was a way to get me prepared for now.

Then there's this: It's a new classified ad website, where, by all appearances, the brokers give you cahs for what you want to sell. They're taking advantage of the current economic crisis. What's most telling, however, are the stories told to Bailout Bill here. Some of these hurt -- they're from folks who are genuinely (at least as genuinely as the Internet can be) having trouble. Then there are the comical stories from people who woefully overestimate themselves and waste money, like the guy who blew $6,000 trying to save a cashew tree, the Brooklynite looking for help so she can maintain her lifestyle which includes a 150-lb St. Bernard, and the high school dropout who is $3,000 in credit card debt and rueing the fact that his lackof a high school diploma is making it "a little difficult" to get into college. So a collage of the sensical and nonsensical, the deserving with the dumb. Arianna Huffington over at the Huffington Post may have bragged that "This recession will be blogged," but it' won't be by her or pretenders like those at It'll be thanks to Bailout Bill.

Addendum: Of course, you have to wonder what is worse: the apparent lack of financial sense exhibited by some posting their requests to Bailout Bill, or folks like me, the ambulance chasers of the Recession of Aught Nine. Don't get me wrong: I have a lot of sympathy for people who find themselves in financial straits, whether they deserve to be there or not. My Dad, an immigrant from the Netherlands, often said that the United States is a great country to live in if you have money, but if you don't it's one of the worst places. Growing up, he said, they were poor but didn't know it, because everyone else was doing the same thing, namely bragging about having THREE kinds of vegetables for dinner. Get poor here (and pretty much everywhere in the developed world) and you know it.

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