Saturday, December 18, 2010

Project #9: Coming to Terms

Today I've got a story about Cindy Thomson, who got laid off at age 62 and decided to pursue her dream -- becoming a jazz singer.

In some ways, Cindy is lucky. She didn't have quite the same financial pressures as other people who have lost their jobs in this economy. She has a spouse who works. She was able to borrow money from her mother to cut a CD.

But what drew me to her story was the choice she faced, the same choice so many others have faced over these past few years: You've lost your job. Now what do you do with your life?

That's the idea behind my latest reader project, Coming to Terms.

I want to hear from those of you who have lost your job in the past couple of years. Have you been able to find work again? Is it the kind of work you hoped for? Do you dream of doing something else with your life? Have you ever reached out and tried to do it?

Tell your stories in the comments below, or e-mail them to me at ttomlinson@charlotteobserver.com. If pictures or video help tell your story, send those along, too.

6 comments:

Suzanne said...

Tommy: I too lost my job at 62. I was working with my brother at a small restaurant he opened here in Lagrange KY. Unfortunately, our little town wasn't ready for Calabash-style seafood - or at least the price involved. We had high quality food with some items being shipped to us from that area. Anyway, we had to close after 2 years. My husband was working and I had insurance coverage through his company. To complicate things, my husband retired in September, which left me without insurance. Didn't actually think that would be a big deal-I have a friend with a similar situation and she was able to get insurance for around $200 a month. No big deal - we could handle that since I filed for my Social Security and was receiving a fair amount and added with my husbands SS and some savings and 401K, we should be fine. WRONG! When trying to find insurance I was smack in the middle of the insurance reform mess and the cheapest insurance I could find was actually COBRA, which would cost me $629 per month. Everyone else turned me down. Even Kentucky Access, which is supposed to be for the "poor" in Kentucky was more than the COBRA rate. So I decided I would go back to work. I figured that whatever my salary would be could be used towards my insurance, which would be COBRA, for three years, until I qualify for Medicare. I found part time jobs very easy to secure. Then a friend suggested I try Starbucks. They have a very unbelievable policy that part time workers with at least 20 hours a week could qualify for their company insurance. I went to our local Starbucks and talked to the manager and explained my situation on a Monday and was hired on Friday.
So, there are jobs out there, if you are willing to look and accept the fact that not every employer will offer insurance. If Starbucks does it, are there other companies who offer insurance at 20 hours?
Although I do not relish the idea of having to go back to work, there are lots of us "baby-boomers" faced with a similar situation. Insurance is the kicker. Although it is done (living without insurance), it is a very scary thought, especially when you have always had the luxury of affordable health care coverage.

Anonymous said...

Mary Newsom's recent column on 'hating the rich' drew a lot of comments, but I think she may have missed a finer point--hating those who have health insurance. You don't have anything if you don't have your health, so, in essence, those with health insurance are the rich, and the rest of us have one foot in the grave, so to speak.

It's a very clear class demarcation, and Starbucks isn't going to work for someone who has to make X amount in order to pay the mortgage. We saw the recent free clinic at the convention center; well, that's what is happening to those without health insurance--they're being treated like cattle.

In the meantime, those with good health insurance have driven up the cost of everything, because if insurance pays for it, why not charge $800 for a pair of glasses, or $150 for a 10-minute chat with a primary care doctor? I know when I walk in a doctor's office and say 'none' to the question of insurance coverage, I get a look that in the old days must have been reserved for lepers.

For those of you with employer-provided health plans, I understand that you worked long and hard to get that job, and in fact tailored your life toward such a job. You don't believe health care is a "right" because you work hard for it. I certainly see your point. But when you have an increasing class of dispossessed people, losing homes, losing insurance, losing their lives as they know it, you'll have increasing incidents of those people walking into school board meetings with a gun, to cite one recent example.

So those of you who have health insurance, who have gleaming teeth and co-pays, consider yourselves rich. And also consider if someone might hate you.

Lynne Stevenson said...

Even though I am not in my 60s and seriously doubt that I will live long enough to see them, I also lost my full time job last July. I have worked two part time temporary jobs since and am currently working at a seasonal one at a mall in SC.
One good thing is that I will be returning to my other past temporary job in January after this Christmas season is finished.
The best part of all is that I am temporarily off of unemployment for the months of December and January. After my next job ends at the end of January, I am not sure what I am going to do to make ends meet. Have been sending out applications and resumes all over the place and still haven't found anything permanent.

Anonymous said...

I lost my pool service business, when I had a hydrocele--scrotum surgery--and couldn't work for a couple months. I have a master's degree, so I started teaching in the community college system as a part-time instructor.

I worked my way up, and I'm doing really well now, teaching a full schedule each semester and in the summers at two community colleges. I make about $25K a year, but with no benefits.

I read about all the budget problems with CMS, and as much as I think those teachers are indeed underpaid, there are a ton of people with master's degrees teaching in the higher education system for far less than public school teachers. If those underpaid higher education people could teach in the public school system for $20k or so plus benefits, a lot of them would, because health benefits are worth $10K a year or more.

Anonymous said...

The CPCC instructor who drove to Michigan and killed that woman--she's reported as being a part-time employee at the college. Last year she was listed as a full-time employee. Maybe she got demoted, and maybe her way of coming to terms was blowing somebody away.

Anonymous said...

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