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From tolling bells to chimes of freedom

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by forever_town, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    One year ago Wednesday, I was abruptly told over the phone that the night I was putting my last newspaper to bed would be my last night of employment at my last shop. As of the next morning, I was officially unemployed.

    As the people who followed Ask not for whom the bell tolls know, that was just the beginning of a year that started out as not just a storm, but a nuclear winter. The newspaper contested my getting unemployment benefits. When I had my telephone hearing with the claims examiner, she was aggressive to the point where it felt like she had a personal vendetta against me. About a week later, I was denied.

    I had to file an appeal, which I did almost immediately. I received a note that my hearing would be over the phone since my ex employers lived in Baltimore, which is a long way from Godless County. I faxed over a request for an in person hearing, and since the one-stop career center’s machine didn’t print out confirmation sheets, I called to request acknowledgement that they’d received my fax. A few hours later, I got a call telling me my request was granted. They moved the hearing to a city that was much closer to me.

    I went to my state’s Legal Aid Bureau and got a lawyer for free. She and I sat down and began building my case. She’d called me several times between that first day we met and the day of the actual hearing to go over what we’d say in the hearing, to prepare me for the hearing and to line up other things that we’d need. When the actual hearing happened, I was still nervous, but I was able to calm down enough to address my employers’ lies calmly by saying, “no that’s not true” in a matter-of-fact tone. When I got the written decision from the hearing examiner, it cited my demeanor by saying I “credibly testified.”

    I’d had a full-time job and it didn’t work out. Then, however, a temporary agency I contacted in the winter started sending me on assignments. Most of them went well. The one that didn’t was a numbers game and not lack of effort on my part. Before long, I started to get the sense the temp agency wasn’t just treating me as a human resource. They were now advocating for me. Better still, even if I couldn’t talk to the recruiter I first contacted there, the other recruiters could easily pick up and know exactly what was going on, to the point where talking to one was as good as talking to my regular recruiter.

    After going months without anything, I now rarely go more than two weeks between the end of one assignment and the start of another. Working baseball games and football games has also kept me busy. I will most certainly leave this experience knowing much more about my state’s unemployment office than I should ever have a right to.

    So why am I writing now? The journey from losing a job that gave me both a lot of stress and a lot of intangible rewards to one in which the darkness of nuclear winter has given way to just a few clouds over the horizon has been a long one. There’ve been some nice moments and some moments I wish never happened. I lost one grandmother to a Tylenol overdose and have figuratively lost one as an Alzheimer’s riddled Xanax zombie. I had to apply for food stamps. I found out I have ADD.

    But there’ve also been better moments. Losing weight (even though some of it has crept back), getting back in the work world to an extent, and still occasionally writing and editing have been some of them. I’ve met new friends. I’ve enjoyed the good and the bad of Redskins football.

    What a crazy roller coaster of a year this has been.
  2. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Keep on truckin'. F_T.
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Thank you.

    This year and my cancer diagnosis from 2006 have given me the kind of resolve I never thought I had.
  4. Double J

    Double J Active Member

    It's strange sometimes how we find out about things like resolve, but in cases like yours, I believe the end result is well worth the journey. I hope that's not presumptuous of me.

    I have gone through quite a lot of crap of my own, and I still go through it, but anything worth having is worth working and fighting for. Sometimes that includes things that many people take for granted - like our dignity.

    f_t, here's hoping for more ups than downs in that crazy roller coaster life. :)
  5. I have learned in recent months that a person can discover a lot about himself and grow through circumstances that would have once, and at times did, seem inconquerable. Although I'm still not totally sold on this idea, it's one I keep hearing -- one day you'll look back on all this and be glad for the person you've become through it. So best of luck, F_T, I'm glad things are looking up for you.
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I don't consider it presumptuous. Perhaps I needed to go through a shit storm to find out how much resolve I have.
  7. schiezainc

    schiezainc Well-Known Member

    This year seems to have set up the rest of your life nicely... :)
  8. Thanks for taking us along. I'm sure there's a lot in this business who can relate and, later, who may have found hope from it.
  9. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    That would be encouraging to me as well.
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