Monday, November 17, 2008

Counting Blessings

The news keeps reporting how many layoffs are coming in the next couple of months. The economic outlook is darned scary. My stomach churns every time I hear Citibank is laying off another 500 people or that the Morton's Steak House in our exclusive shopping district just shut its doors for the final time. I remember how I felt working in construction and I was told that my job was being phased out and I would be unemployed in under two months. As the major support of my little family, not being employed felt quite frightening.

Now I'm in my third year of teaching. In one more year, I'm looking once again at tenure. At the end of this year, I stop being reviewed annually. I was hired with nearly all my years of teaching counted into my salary (22) and this year I hit 15 hours beyond my master's degree for a nice little bump. I'm almost at the top of the scale in my district and though I'm not making six figures, I'm bringing home a very substantial paycheck compared with my construction salary -- and I have really nice benefits. Even better, I'm happy in my job; really, hugely happy. I'm good at what I do and I'm contributing to the betterment of mankind. I work with decent people for the most part in a beautiful building with responsive students.

Three years ago I was terrified when I faced being laid off from a job I hated. The silver lining, which I couldn't see then, was that this job was on my horizon. This job, with its security and decent salary and joy-making potential gives me a safety net that I didn't think I wanted in 1990 (almost 19 years ago when I left teaching). Now I'm eternally grateful to have that net beneath me.

As the holiday season approaches I thank my lucky stars that construction tossed me out, head over heels, and I managed to land once more back in the land of education. I realize that my home is secure, my dogs have good food and health care and lots of love, and Hubby and I are able to buy Christmas presents for each other and our family. The freezer and pantry are stocked with good food, the furnace is still relatively new and heats us well, and we have a new mattress on the bed so we sleep in comfort. Our closets and drawers are full of warm clothing and all four of us have winter coats, maybe not new, but warm and serviceable.

The terror of facing unemployment still haunts me. I know how the folks at GM and Ford and Citibank and American Airlines are feeling right now. I feel for them and their families -- and I count my blessings, both big and small.

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