Let's just eliminate all the bullshit, shall we?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Plight of Not Finding Work

This is a completely UNauthorized share of a tremendous
article from msnbc.com. It was so moving and so deftly
reveals so many of the pains an d struggles within making
decisions in this horrid economy that I wanted to share it
in full. Follow the link at bottom for more similar articles
by Bob Sullivan.

This entire post is 100% copyright Bob Sullivan and
msnbc.com. No claim otherwise.

In particular, the talk of depression and frustration, the
hurt of selling your possessions (and realizing how little
they're 'worth' to anyone else,) the process of becoming
non-materialistic, and the desperation that leads to drastic
choices were all things I found relatable. Hope you get
some encouragement from it, too. Peace.

Unemployed, he's selling everything to follow in steps of
Dust Bowl migrants
By Bob Sullivan

During the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s,
Dust Bowl migrants from the Great Plains loaded all their
belongings into their cars and jammed Route 66 in hope
of finding a better life in California. Nearly 80 years later,
Billy Reiser, an unemployed 50-year-old Pennsylvanian,
plans to follow their path.

Reiser lost his job managing the engineering department at
an eastern Pennsylvania medical device manufacturing
company in 2009, and he's hit nothing but roadblocks since.
With his unemployment running out and his retirement funds
raided to pay his mortgage, he's decided to take a radical
step: He's selling everything he owns, including the house,
and plans to load his two dogs in a used RV and drive west
looking for work.

"I know there are jobs elsewhere as I look on Monster.com
and CareerBuilder.com every day," he said. Reiser's plight is
nowhere near as bad as those of the starving farmers who
were forced west by drought and economic calamity. Still,
compared to his increasingly depressing situation at home,
the chance to take up the spirit of a character in a John
Steinbeck novel has obvious appeal. "I have come to feel as
though I'm just sitting around looking for things to do while
 waiting to die. So change is a necessity," he said.

Reiser has decades of experience in what was once the
high-flying field of bioengineering. Ten years ago, he even
went back to school and earned an MBA so he could step
forward in his field. He switched firms in 2003 to take a
management job, and was part of several successful product
launches. But when sales slipped after the 2008 recession,
his job was eliminated. Now, his lengthy resume works against
him. Reiser says his age -- too young to retire, but too old for
entry level jobs -- has played a big part in his persistent

"I have come to the realization that I am unemployable," he said.
"I would take a job that pays $60,000 less than I was making,
but I get no response when I apply. I think ageism has something
to do with it. … There are many of us out there like me,
unemployable for what we used to do. But when we try to get
jobs at less than what we used to make, no one will take us
because they figure we will bolt as soon as the economy turns around."

His prospects and bank account both dwindling, Reiser was
forced to take a step that's devastating for investors in their 50s.
"I had to pull money out of my IRA to subsidize my mortgage.
It was really gut wrenching, because you are taxed and penalized
for that," he said.

That's when Reiser started to think more drastic steps were
necessary. He'd gotten divorced in 2006, but stayed in his
home because of an emotional attachment."I felt tied to it due to
all the work my dad, a retired carpenter, and I had put into it.
(We) installed all new windows and doors, installed new kitchen
and bath, built a second floor deck," he said. But now, it was
time to question that attachment, and all his attachments. With
nothing tying him to his home, he’s decided roam America,
looking for a new beginning.

Reiser has already begun selling all his personal belongings --
he netted $510 in a garage sale last weekend -- and has put
his home on the market. In a way, it's as if he's presiding over
his own post-mortem estate sale.

"It's harder than you think. It's easy to get very philosophical," he
said. "You realize that everything you have has a story." Like the
wood carvings he purchased from poor kids at the end of a hike
in Zimbabwe. Or the signed painting he purchased from an artist
in the Southwest for $250 several years ago. It went for $30.
"You realize many of the things you have aren't worth what you
thought they were,' he said. "But it is just stuff. It has been a
cathartic process. It's a unique mental process. ... It has made
me realize how shackled I have become to comfort of my home
and belongings."

When the house is sold, he plans to buy a cheap RV and head
south before winter. His first stop will be at a friend's place in
Richmond, Va. Then he's on to North Carolina and Florida,
and will turn west and head for Texas and the southwest by
spring -- ending up perhaps in California, where Dust Bowl
migrants looked for their Promised Land. He hopes to pick
up odd jobs along the way, spending perhaps one or two
months in each place.

"I know a lot of RV camps need help around the place,
and I'm pretty handy," he said. "Maybe when I head out
west I'll work in a dude ranch or something."
The trip represents a huge mental shift for Reiser, who
felt himself slipping deeper and deeper into depression
with nothing to do during the day, and began to feel his
advancing age. Now, he sees his unemployment as an
opportunity, and the timing as surprisingly good.
"When in my life would I be able to just take off and do this and
be young enough to handle the rigors of this kind of travel?” he
said. “Many people say they are going to travel the country like
this when they retire, but they never get there. Since this is
happening it has given me the opportunity to do things I always
wanted to do. ... In fact, many family members, when they hear
my plan, say, 'Can I go with you?’ jokingly, I think. They plan to
live vicariously through me." Meanwhile, the trip won't impact his
continuing job search, he figures.

"I'm just sitting on the computer and looking for jobs all day. I
can do that on road just as easily," he said. The plan does hinge
on sale of his home, but he believes he has enough equity in it to
fund at least the start of his trip. Still, losing most of his possessions,
 his home and his community has risks.

"But I cannot just sit here in Pennsylvania and wallow in misery,”
 Reiser said. “So off I go, to wander the country in hopes that,
through serendipity or maybe just the kindness of a stranger, I
will find meaningful employment. At this point, it has the potential
to be an epic journey with a joyful end, or a demoralizing trip with
results that could suck the soul right out of me."

from The Red Tape Chronicles on msnbc.com;
 http://www.redtape.msnbc.com/ by Bob Sullivan


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