After the Layoff: The return of Mr. Stress
I'm finally back to work.
My four-month layoff is a thing of the past and I'm earning a steady paycheck again.
I close my eyes and let out a long, slow sigh of relief, as I feel the weight of the world slide off my shoulders.
"Man, that feels good!" I say to myself, rolling my shoulders as a broad smile spreads across my face.
In my mind, I'm finally tossing all the emotional baggage into the Dumpster.
I hear the lid close with a loud "CLANG" behind me.
I haven't felt this good in a long time.
Time to check the status of our household budget.
My eyes quickly scan the numbers on the spreadsheet. Something doesn't seem quite right, so I take another look.
Suddenly, my mouth drops open, and I feel a lump in my gut as my heart drops from my chest to my stomach.
"You've got to be kidding," I say aloud, shaking my head, my eyes widening in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding me."
I was certain my new job would enable my family to make ends meet again, and I'm crestfallen to discover we're still coming up short.
Ugh. I feel like I'm going to be sick.
Finding one full-time job was hard enough. And it's only a seasonal job at that. Hopefully, I'll be kept on staff at the end of my run.
Now I'm faced with finding a second, part-time job to close the budget gap?
Unfortunately, it's no joke.
In today's economy, many people who are unemployed can't afford the luxury of being able to pick and choose when it comes to finding work. And let's face it – having a job is better than not having one, even if it means taking a pay cut.
Unfortunately, this means many of us, myself included, are faced with finding not one, but two or more jobs to pay the bills, because we don't earn enough money from our primary jobs.
If I do nothing, the extra money my wife and I have saved will be in jeopardy and our financial cushion will quickly deflate, even though we're both working.
Talk about frustrating, not to mention depressing. I can feel my blood pressure, finally returned to normal levels, slowly rising again.
Trying my best to regain my composure, I shrug my shoulders and let out another heavy sigh filled more with exasperation than relief.
Immediately, I flip open my computer and begin searching for a second job.
Secretly, I'm hoping this search will be quicker than my last.
While my fingers click away on the keys and my eyes scroll through the seemingly endless list of job opportunities, I can hear a rapid, annoying knock at the back door to my mind.
Who could that be? It's Stress, back for a return visit. I can feel him.
I stay focused on the task at hand, doing my best to block out the noise, which is growing louder by the second.
Realizing I'm fighting a losing mental battle, I storm over to the door and wrench it open.
Yep. I was right.
Once again, I'm staring into the face of Stress, a devilish grin creeping up his cheeks.
"What do you want?" I bark at him.
He says he's got a special delivery for me, and points to the ground.
It seems Stress has been Dumpster diving.
At my feet are bags, which I recognize instantly.
The weight of the world, back on my doorstep.
I should have marked them Return to Sender.
Next: The importance of saving for a rainy day.