Thursday, July 10, 2003

The End

It came today. It snuck up on me and retreated, came to the fore and went back so many times over the past three months that when the end actually arrived, I don’t think I really believed there wouldn't be another start. So many shocks along the way have numbed the nerve endings a bit, but the pain is still there. Over-sensitivity and easy irritation have become hallmarks of my days. I try to fight them with heavy doses of rational thinking and gratefulness for what I have found with my family and what I am not losing of myself. I want to be grown up, but the whining rings in my heart and in my head and sometimes – often, really – I let it out.

How can I have lost my job? The rising unemployment rate should have meant job security for me, since the majority of people I served weren’t working. If they are out there, why can’t they come to me? I want to help them. I want to show my empathy for their plight and cluck my tongue and shake my head in commiseration and say, “Wow, that’s terrible.” I want to do these things out of a natural caring for people, not because I am in their sinking boat.

How come I can’t get a straight answer? How can it be that I am out of work and not getting paid, but still not able to qualify for unemployment? How can I be covered under the insurance policy, but still have to cancel a dental appointment?

How is it possible that my coworkers, who’ve been with County Schools six to 10 years longer than I have don’t have bumping rights, but I do?

How can one person's recent reclassification to a better paying position have left her without any seniority, even though she’s been with County Schools six years longer than I? Why do I get her job?

When will I finally know what I’m actually making each month? How do I get vacation if my calendar is already set for the year? What am I getting paid for July and when will the check actually come?

How will Carrie make that drive to and from the High Desert? How will Tami make that car payment without a job? Who’s going to help Gus? What are we all going to do without one another?

How can they just throw GED testing out the window? We were the fourth largest test center in the state – one of the few with any addendum sites, let alone eight of them. What about that kid in juvenile hall who was told by a judge, “You can get out as soon as you complete your GED?” Nobody will come to test him now. Imagine his hard work and preparation for a goal at hand that will provide at least two benefits: completion of a secondary education and the final payment toward a debt to society. How his heart must have sunk when he heard the news, when he asked his instructor, “What does it mean?” The teacher's reply was meant for us all, “It means you’re screwed. Welcome to life.”

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