The Mean Elephant, Part 1

One day last October, I had an unusual day. It started off with a trip into the city for a radio interview about an article that I wrote. My mom came over to meet the school bus after school. I had to switch from mom mode to professional mode, then back to mom mode with homework and dinner prep. I hadn't juggled responsibilities like that in a couple of years, and I was out of practice. 

After my mom left and I recovered from the adrenaline rush, I put some chicken cutlets in a pan for dinner. I was hovering over the chicken in the pan, when Steve walked in the door. I looked up at the clock. 6:15. Way too early for him.

"Hey, you're home early. What a nice surprise!" 

He opened the hall closet to hang up his coat. The closet door hid his body. There was a pause. A long pause. I heard in my head, "I lost my job today." And then he said it. Those exact words. "I lost my job today." I had to do a reality check. Did he really say that? Yes, he did.

He closed the door and I hugged him. And we talked about it. 

5 thoughts on “The Mean Elephant, Part 1

  1. Pesto walked in the door this morning at 10 AM. Me, “Did you loose your job?” This happened on our first wedding anniversary. He was employed with this cool start-up and within 4 months the company decided to pursue another venture. They paid him a handsome severance, and offer to say he we worked for 6 months. I went into panic mode (we just bought a used car with *huge* car payments, since Pesto’s job was not easily commutable via public transport–a reverse commute): let’s sell the car; emails to friends/acquaintance. Pesto did phone interviews (there are usual 3 steps for software types) in the new car or as he called it, “my office.” Within one week, he had 3-4 interviews; and within two weeks he landed another job. I realized that he had “mad skillz” but the insecurity of not having employment brings me back to when my father was unemployed.


  2. One thing was tricky with Steve’s job hunt is that he was competing with his friends who also lost their jobs at the same time. And all the other firms that were also downsizing. And all the guys in Poland (lots of outsourcing of legal/document work to Eastern Europe).
    On the plus side, he’s very good at his job and he had never been on the job market before. He was a new face. He got his job, while he was still in grad school. He started off as a temp secretary and then worked his way up to Vice President. Very proud of him. On the down side, he didn’t have a resume prepared and had never been on a job interview before.


  3. Is the job that supports the family in the style to which they are accustomed the gender parallel for men of women and how they identify with their children?
    A big surprise to me as a mother was how much the truism about a mother (is it a family?) being only as happy as her unhappiest child applied to me. I really didn’t expect it to (and, I still don’t think it applies to their father).
    Right now, I’m participating in an email chain where moms are struggling to figure out how to get their tween daughters to a weekend event that’s about 2 hours away. The tweens, in their tweenishness, change their minds about what they want to do very couple of hours. The mothers have commitments of various sorts (and, commitments at least as important as the dads’). But, the moms are tying themselves into knots trying to figure out how to make it work, while the dads figure that it’s not a big deal (which it isn’t). My husband often has to talk me down from situations like these.
    I find that I have to play the same role when husband gets caught up in the idea that private school educations and vacations in Hawaii are part of what he must provide to his children as a breadwinner, rather than luxuries that we can do without, if need be.


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