As some followers of this blogspot may be aware, I was unemployed for some time recently - a situation I was becoming increasingly distressed about, to the point where I found it difficult to focus on much more than the black abyss of my own joblessness. The good news is that I started working at a local television station last week. It's a job that I really, really wanted and that I'm extremely grateful to have gotten.
But along with my great enthusiasm for being back at work is a sobering sense of reflection on my too-long tenure on unemployment. I worked for National Amusements as a theater manager for ten years and when they sold the majority of their assets to a rival chain, I expected some new policies and procedures would need to be implemented. As it turned out, there was but I wouldn't be staying to implement them.
Deciding to give my notice rather than accept the new owner's job offer was a difficult decision and I spent most of the time in the title of this post wondering whether or not I had chosen wisely. On the one hand, to stay would not have been beneficial to me or my family. In fact, it would have been almost a sure guarantee to ruin.
But, as I often thought as I sent out one resume after another to no avail, at least it would have been a job. A job I could no longer make a living off of or receive benefits from, true, but at least it was a paycheck - something to work with. I frequently agonized as to whether I had tragically erred in making a young man's decision to leave to look for something better rather than make a decision more suited to my age and play the safer hand.
When I first left, I felt confident that I would find new work in a relatively short amount of time and I held on to that optimism for the first six months or so. Even though nothing was panning out, I didn't doubt that a break would come. But by the beginning of this year I really begin to worry about whether I would ever be able to break back into the working world.
They say that many people on long term unemployment get to a point where they just give up and I can definitely sympathize with that. News reports about how many companies refuse to hire people who aren't already working and about how the longer a person is unemployed, the more unemployable they become sure don't help.
At the top of this post is a picture of my old desk area at Enfield Cinemas, wallpapered with drawings from my son Owen. I look at that pic now and it seems like it came from another lifetime. I had no idea when I took that shot on my last day of work in April of 2010 what kind of journey I had ahead of me. Now that I'm working again, some might say that I just wasn't meant to get any of those other jobs and that, in the end, things worked out for the best.
I agree on that - but being unemployed in today's America was a long and humbling experience that I'll never forget.