“As the Boots Turn” #1, A Disaster or Opportunity? Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
There is this little neighborhood bar where I used to go occasionally. On my way home from work, usually on Friday, I’d stop off for one or two beers and play TriPeaks on the bar-top video game machine. It was a good way to unwind just a little, especially when the week had been very stressful.
Pekers is one of those places where the bartenders know all the customers by name, generally waving and greeting you when you come through the door, and they have your drink ready by the time you get to a bar stool. The customers all know one another too, and it is not unusual for folks to give one another rides home just to make sure they get home safe when they’ve had a few too many. Even if you are like me and only go in there once or twice a month, you eventually become a “regular” and everyone knows your name. Hmmm.. Why do I suddenly feel as if I’m a character in a Garth Brooks song? 😉 ♬♫♪♩ I’ve got friends in low places… ♩♪♫♬
The day I lost my job, I did what many of us would do when we needed to sit and think, I went to my local watering hole and I had a beer. My inner domestic diva was trying to sway me toward going to a park and consuming three or four pints of Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk, but the beer won out. 😉
So, I walk in, to Pekers, my “corner neighborhood bar,” around noon-ish and I order a beer. Actually it was three beers and I paid for all three advance. I told the bartender to not sell me any more when I was done. This was, of course, was a dramatic gesture. It was, in reality, completely unnecessary and pointless. However, one must never miss a chance for the dramatic gesture! 😉
Dispensing dramatic statements and paying for three beers in advance was far different behavior from my usual “head to the end of the bar, buy one beer and ask for quarters for the TriPeaks game.” Thus, the dramatic gesture, proved to be useful after all as it generated the desired response from the bartender of “What’s up?” and “What are you doing here? You’re never in here at this time of day!”
Well for the price of three beers (much cheaper than a professional counselor, and achieving pretty much the same result) I told him my tale of woe and a strange thing happened. I realized that I wasn’t as stressed out as I thought I would be. In fact, quite the opposite, I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt good, really good and this in spite of the fact that I had less than a $1,000 in the bank, no savings, only one week pay coming to me, and almost $40,000 in debt, including student loans, and a brand new truck on which I had only made three payments.
At, my job, now my ex-job, I had been under such constant non-stop stress that the career that I still love had stopped being enjoyable. And as I sat there, mid-way through beer number two, I realized that I was relaxed for the first time in ages. Really relaxed. Not only that, I felt better than I had in a very long time. Just knowing that I would not have to deal with that constant non-stop stress was making me feel, well, for lack of a better word… better!
The worst had happened and I felt better? Sounds nuts right? But look at it this way:
Employed, constantly worrying if, or when, you’re going to lose your job. Not knowing if you have what it takes to do the work of one and a half people. Asked every day of every week to produce at 100-150% of what an average person in that position would do, knowing that the only long-term solution would be to hire more staff which was and is not going to happen. Constant. Non. Stop. Stress. And. Pressure. With. Parts. Of. The. Situation. Not. Within. Your. Control.
Dealing with being unemployed. Been there. Done that. No problem. Sure there are and will be stresses related to being unemployed, but I know without a doubt that those are manageable and I can handle them.
Another way of looking at this is:
Unmanageable high stress situation with no solution in sight and limited options.
Highly manageable much lower stress situation with clear and achievable goals.
No wonder I felt better. In fact I felt so good that I never did finish that third beer. I gave it to guy down at the end of the bar who looked like he was having a bad day; he must have been he was in a bar at noon-ish after all! 🙂
So far it seems that the answer is “the glass is half full.” But “Hold yer hosses Pardner! Not so fast thar buck-a-roo!”
Join us now for another episode of
“As the Boots Turn…”
[Cue the dramatic music and the announcer’s voice over] Time has marched on and we find our intrepid hero and newly unemployed librarian ensconced in his homestead… Can it be? I can’t believe it… No! It can’t be… [dramatic build in music]… he … is… SLEEPING! Yes, sleeping. I’ve been doing that a lot, and I’ve even mentioned it in a couple posts. More on that later.
But sleeping isn’t all I’ve been doing. My life in the 34 days since becoming unemployed has been split pretty evenly between four activities (1) dancing and getting ready for the two competitions which have now passed, (2) thinking, thinking, thinking, sleeping, sleeping, sleeping, resting, resting, resting; planning, planning, planning (3) dealing with various government agencies; and (4) job hunting.
First things first — Some things ya just gotta do… (# 1, # 3 and #4 from the list)
When I lost my job, I had two immediate thoughts (a) What am I going to do about my new truck? and (b) What am I going to do about dance!? Then, once I’d gathered my things from my office, headed to Pekers, had my two beers, I got to work, doing that host of things that need to be done to manage the situation:
- Balance the checkbook, move the savings to checking, update the budget and prepay as many bills as possible for as far into the future as possible. Get the basics covered: housing, food, communications (Internet & cellphone) transportation.
- …sign up for unemployment benefits (which have been denied; I’m appealing, keep your fingers crossed for me. Hey this is Texas, if you aren’t a saint, you don’t get benefits. Texas doesn’t believe in a social safety net. *sigh* Yes, sarcasm, but it does accurately sum up how I feel at the moment. Stay tuned for updates…)
- …explore options, decide to do an early retirement from one of my retirement plans, so that there would be some money coming in, just under $800 a month. Doing the early retirement means less money per month over a longer period vs wait till later and get more money per month over a shorter period, and I need the money now…
- … decide to take a lump-sum disbursement from the same retirement plan so that I can pay off my debts, except for my truck. There isn’t enough to cover the cost of the truck so I’ll still have that one debt which I’ll still owe.
- …look for the low hanging fruit in terms of job openings, checking the libraries closest to me first, etc. No luck there. But I’m still looking.
All that, of course, while important to moi, is booooring stuff to talk about in a blog!
The point in mentioning it is so that you don’t get a wrong impression of how I’ve spent my time the past four weeks. In spite of urgings from my inner domestic diva to lounge about eating bon-bons and wallow in despair, I have risen above those base tendencies and I’ve been a good, responsible little dancer and done all those “chores” that needed to be done. But, while necessary, they ain’t sexy to talk about, so, let’s get onto the good stuff! 🙂 Woo Hoo!
Other things ya just gotta do… (#1 from the list)
Dancing! Dancing is part of the “good stuff!”
When I lost my job, I had already committed to attending two dance competitions. The Texas Hoedown and the Oklahoma Dance Rush. Not only was I committed, I was on the staff, scheduled to teach line dance workshops and I had already paid the registration and entry fees. My dance partner and my coach had made travel plans based on that commitment and my room-mate was counting on me to share in the travel expenses. Oh my! The Drama! The Angst! The Responsibility! You may, dear readers, all eight of you reading this, roll your eyes with wild abandon. Just don’t let them get stuck.
So, there was no way out, not that I ever really considered cancelling. Those two events had to be done. I had too much invested, in money, time and cancelling would adversely affect a lot of people I care about. The Texas Hoedown, at that point in time, was two weeks away and the Oklahoma Dance Rush (just this past weekend) was two weeks after that.
On a bright note, being out of work meant that I had plenty of time to get ready for the two events. PLENTY of time! Well not as much as you think… There was #3 and #4 on that thar list requiring time and effort. So between #1, #3, and #4, my hands were pretty busy; no devil’s workshop around here!
Which brings us friends and neighbors, to the original question. The verdict is still out and but so far, on balance, glass is looking half full!
Stay tuned… In the next episode of “As the Boots Turn…” our intrepid hero deals with Number Two. 😉 *ahem* from the list.
See ya on the dance floor!