Yesterday afternoon. I had just posted my "happily coping with Christmas, ha ha" piece below when the phone rang.
It was Joe, calling from his office. "Well, I'm coming home. They've given us all an hour to pack up everything and get out." I have visions of medieval thugs in black formless hoods standing over he and his coworkers. Actually, it's a timid woman from the corporate office who is literally shaking because she's been given the crap job of telling a whole office full of people to go, right now. She's accompanied by some maintenance guy who is rekeying the locks as people are packing up their belongings.
We knew Joe's job was ending. The company had nothing left, really. Everyone in the office had done what they could to keep things going, but the writing had been on the wall for a while. But the last day was supposed to be today, and when Timid Corporate Messenger of Doom came in, it was a complete surprise. They were actually taking a little break and having a small, somber Christmas party. People who had worked there in the past had stopped by to say a little hello. They were counting on that last day, today, to get in one more day at full pay instead of workshare through unemployment. Instead, they got the boot early.
Tears were shed. People were blindsided. It all boils down to this: the corporate office which has more or less established ownership and authority refuses to pay out for anyone's paid time off. They are breaking contracts and severance agreements with other employees. We are out at least $7,500 on Joe's end in accumulated PTO, and we aren't even getting the worst of it. Corporate is trying to distance themselves from the company, lawyers are being called, sabers are being rattled. And so the little company party was crashed and everyone given the bums rush. People who had been there for nineteen years plus--even the company founder--were told to get out. Keys were handed over.
I'm not naive. I know that worse has happened to other people, and I am very grateful that we'll be okay on the unemployment once those benefits kick in. But what about our insurance? Will the Oregon Health Plan allow us to keep our amazing pediatrician? Our benefits end in eight days.
At the same time, I'm so grateful that we have the life we do. Our mortgage is doable, we don't have extra payments for cable or fancy internet. (Okay, truth be told, I'm dreading another year of dial-up!) We don't have car payments and we rarely use the credit card. In short, we'll be okay.
And I have Joe at home now to help with Kiddo and Plumtree. I'd been concerned about needing childcare to get some work done. Now I have a hot guy who lives in and does do childcare, for free. And I can have an affair with my "manny" and my husband won't get mad. Not bad to be me, huh?
I'm trying to keep a sense of humor in all of this. There's really nothing else to do for it. We just finished a bit of Christmas shopping and will go out for pizza tonight as we drop by the neighborhood mailboxes and finally mail Kiddo's letter to Santa. Later we'll put on a silly dvd and laugh, because that's kind of what we need. We'll have plenty of time to gnash our teeth, wail and rend our garments in our anger. For now, I need to get me some mistletoe kissletoe, because Joe, working or not, is still the best man I know.