50 and unemployed. Day 1 – the 8 stages of grief.

My dick boss fired me yesterday. Maybe it wasn’t as glamorous as that. No shouting match. No accusations. Just a simple “we can’t pay you any more.” By “we” he meant “he” because I was the last to go. Six – count ’em 6 – full days before Christmas.

So here I sit, 50 and unemployed, with a giant, light up, plastic Christmas tree in the living room, a closet full of presents for my kids and a promise from Amazon that more were on their way. Ca-ching! Five cats are watching me hungrily and all are surely on the verge of another medical emergency. And my best cash fallback? My husband’s schoolteacher salary.

Looks like a new bottle of whisky is out of the question.

Truthfully I knew this day was inevitable almost a year ago, but what I didn’t bank on was the shitty timing of it all. Aside from the day after you return from a vacation, is there ever a more broke time of year than Christmas? The calendar-driven pain in the ass hits extra hard when you realize that over the next two weeks, I would have had two paid holidays. TWO DAYS OFF ALL ON SOMEONE ELSE’S DIME (thank YOU baby Jesus!). And I had been saving up my PTO so I could completely forget that I even held this stupid job for a full 7 days during the week of Christmas and New Years. I was going to sleep late, eat heartily and maybe shower, like once. No, that ain’t just the booze (that I now can’t afford) talking – it was my dream week.

Now I get those days off and a whole lot more. So maybe this is a dream come true, except for the impending financial ruin and all.

On the drive home last night, I realized there were loads of things I should have said. Probably should be an 8th stage of grief – the retort stage.

  • “Wow, who wouldn’t want an unpaid Christmas vacation that starts early and runs late? Thank YOU, Ebeneezer … or can I call you ‘Eb?'”
  • “FYI, I’ll be out most of the day returning my kids’ Christmas gifts tomorrow, so if you need something, text. Just do it early, before I hawk my phone.”
  • “Nah, I’m good on lunch. Just going to grab something quickly at the soup kitchen. Need to do a little networking there, you know?”

    I think I went through most of the other stages of grief, too, like:
    Shock (Of course I’ll go to this stupid client meeting and spend all day plus some at work today even though I won’t be getting extra cash or kudos because of it)
    Denial (My preteen kids could work, right?)
    Anger (Damn Lewis Hine and his stupid, persuasive photos – now my kids CAN’T work)
    Bargaining (Hello plasma center? If I gain weight, will you pay me more? What if I just promise to pack on the pounds?)
    Depression (Oh why isn’t whisky in the budget? It would go so much further in my career as a plasma donor.)
    Testing (How would you kids feel about learning to sew? You would look soooo good in this potato sacks color…)
    Acceptance (Mommy is on permanent vacation!).

    But I’m probably going to cycle through the stages a few more times, especially as the bank balance gets even lower. Talk to me around January 19.

    You know, it’s been 15 or so years since I’ve been in this state – unemployed that is; 50 is a new state this year. Turns out I’m kind of rusty at it. I used to know all of the tricks, like how much I could earn and still collect an unemployment check, how to schedule freelance projects so everything could be completed/billed in the same week, where to find jobs. You know, stuff like that. I have to relearn everything. Hopefully there’s a YouTube video on it cuz I envision spending lots of time staring mindlessly at screens in the near future. I’ll get pointers from my kids.

    Oh, my dick boss did give me a parting gift yesterday: a pair of socks.

    Huh? That was my reaction, too.

    I guess he confused my dig-a-little-deeper-douchbag face with a how-do-you-afford-such-lavish-gifts look. Dick boss was happy to elaborate. “I have a friend in the business,” he said, “so I get them at half off.”

    Wow. That’s so cool. You’re saving, hmm, thousands each week by not having me or any of my once-former-now-canned coworkers on the payroll and you put that money into half-price socks. Any chance THAT’S why the biz went under?

    “Oh, thanks,” I said. I’m positive it sounded genuine, which is good cuz thank-you cards are no longer in the budget.


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