Worked yesterday, unemployed today

Unemployed in Arkansas, jobless, unemployment extensions, employmentImagine it. A year ago, things couldn't look brighter. After years of managing a chain pizza restaurant, an ill family member’s needs demanded a relocation to a much smaller city with fewer opportunities for her. But, not for long. A new store was in the works, and the owners recognized her growth-focused business savvy and offered her the job of managing their pizza store in a new, prime location.

The young, inexperienced owners set her free to set up and run the business the best she knew how, and it worked. Of all the stores the young owners had, hers was the only one posting consistent and growing profits. She was customer – and detail – oriented, and it paid off many times over.

Then, bright and early Sunday morning, the owner followed her into the store and told her, “You are our best, you do the best job and you have the best store, in fact yours is the only store we own making money, but because you don’t hang out with us, you’re fired.”

Just like that. Monday morning, she’s in the unemployment office, holding little hope that she will be found eligible. She was in shock. She was lost. She had no choice.


Shut up about it!


The ranting and raving is enough to curl perfectly straight hair. On and on and on it goes, the endless, self-righteous prattle about this or that or the other thing. What is painfully obvious is that all this noise is nothing more than the whines of the weak minded and power hungry. To all of the lip flappers, I say, “Shut up!”

Just shut up about it. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

You can’t possibly know what it’s like right now to be unemployed after the factory who worked at most of his adult life closes down to move production to Mexico. So it happened a year and a half ago, so what? That doesn’t mean that the unemployed can turn right around and find someplace else to work. Do you know what those unemployed workers are facing? Do you know what it feels like to suddenly find perfected skills obsolete and unneeded? Do you know what it feels like to fear the future?

That’s right, you don’t. So just shut up about the unemployed. You seem to think it’s more important to rant about giving the rich those extended tax breaks instead of thinking about whether your neighbor can keep his house and feed his children. 

Hot + cold = warm. Ah, much better.


It’s always us old fogies that catch the flack for being set in our ways. You-can’t-teach-an-old-dog-new-tricks and all that hoopla. Well, I’ve got an old dog that learns “new tricks” all the time, and it is effortless how well he teaches me a few things along with him. It’s one of those things that I try to keep a sharp eye on, this thing of being a stuck-in-the-mud.

Sure, change is harder to roll with now that my bones are completely calcified in my half century of time on Earth. But even in my old age, it’s plain to see that change is a good thing, even if it doesn’t seem to be so at first. The thing is, once the clock ticks, things are changed anyway. So, there’s no sense in getting stuck. No sense at all.

If you think about it long enough, it seems silly. On the surface, it’s the path of least resistance. If you’re not stuck in the mud, so to speak, then the river of life doesn’t smack into you, push you hard, before it rolls off your staunch surface to flow right on by. OK, you’re standing strong, but that river of life just waves a fond farewell in retrospect as you fade away to a dot in the rearview mirror. Those fellow sticks stuck-in-the-muds standing right along with you will not hesitate to call you names like “liberal,” “fence sitter" or “weak” when you decide to break loose and go with the flow.

And that is the trap. The stuck-in-the-muds proclaim loudly, with a bit of logic to support their superficial arguments. It’s when those arguments become hard and fast, completely stuck in the mud of either hot or cold that they then become extreme. That extremism is what becomes the antithesis to life itself. Life cannot exist in extreme cold or extreme heat. It needs both; it needs the nutrients of the flow of the river. Life depends on nurturing warmth.


It takes a lot of practice to lose the grump


The tone was unmistakably raucus and self-righteous and loud enough that I heard it through cubicle walls halfway across the office. The deep voice sounded like he was giving the people at the front desk a very hard time, and half recognizing it, I jumped up and came to their rescue. I didn’t recognize him, but he sure recognized me with a loud,

“It’s my money and I want it now. It’s mine.”

What could I say? What I did say was, “Are you giving my people a hard time up here? Quit that and come back here with me.” I didn’t give him a choice. I just spun and headed back to my cubicle. After a few clicks I had his info up on my screen and got myself caught up pronto. Now, I remembered him. A few more clicks and I found some juicy stuff that I kept to myself – for the moment.

His attitude was demanding, grumpy, grating, irritating … all around and downright unpleasant. I let him vent his tirade and inserted the proper eyebrow elevations and frowns in the appropriate places. He described this, explained that and brought himself back around to getting what he thought was his due. I had no chance to get a word in edgewise unless I asserted myself far more than is usual, and it got old fast. Finally, at the end of his story, I printed out that juicy stuff I was holding back on and placed it on the desk in front of him.


Unemployment extensions end, but not announced

Economy"…[I]f your regular benefits exhaust during the week of Nov. 27, you will not be eligible for an unemployment extension at this time."

In February, April and May of this year, Congress chose to take leave instead of voting on legislation that would extend unemployment benefits beyond regular amounts. The first time made a huge ruckus in the media. The second one, not so much. By the time the May lapse occurred, a peep here and there came through the wires, even though it wasn’t until July 22 that the Unemployment Compensation Act of 2010 was signed into law. That law, as written, expires on November 30.

This major lapse in news coverage of a topic that effects roughly 10% of all of us incites rage in me. This is important for hundreds of thousands of people trying to find a job when there are none to be found, trying to feed their families and trying to keep a roof over their heads. Why hasn’t it been all over the news?


One flew over the squirrels’ nest


Fridays. Just the thought of having two days off to do whatever makes a Friday a good day. No holds barred, fun day. Most of the time, I have that fun all by my lonesome.

In between the mad rushes at the office, I stepped out to enjoy the sun, the colors, the uncanned air – and the squirrels. Said squirrels have become brave, playful and a bit obnoxious lately, and I have fun with it.

These two squirrels were having themselves a good ol’ time. The chased each other, played hide-and-seek, ran through the tree branches and made a racket running through the leaves on the ground. Motor-mouth that I am around animals, I uninhibitedly – and loudly – chattered and jabbered a running commentary of their antics. Since I’ve done this all year, the squirrels are used to my voice and once in awhile, I imagine that they are actually listening.