This is the end of the road were the only words spoken. After twenty-nine years of service, I was given five minutes to gather my personal belongings. In shock, I left behind more than I collected. My career had crumbled. Too often, we define who we are by our occupation. So, for five years I have carried the stigma of unemployed. Constant rejection gnaws at worthiness. Employers now openly state that the unemployed need not apply. Their mission is greed and control. Drug and IQ tests, a background check, all for a minimum wage job that is demeaning and unfulfilling. The whole situation makes it feel futile to keep trying. I can pass all their tests, but they want to control behavior when you’re not on their clock.
My children have begun to scale the corporate ladder. They have stayed in my nest to help their bum father as they itch to fly and make their own mark on the world. My pride lamp glows brightly on them with gratitude and intense guilt. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Yesterday, all the neighbor kids headed off to the first day of school. Today was my wife’s first day of work in thirty years. Let’s hope I don’t have to wait twenty-five more years for a job. It’s really her first time of being on a payroll in all those years. She worked plenty hard being an involved mom and making our house a home. She wouldn’t let me take of picture of her this morning like she did for our kids’ first day of school every year.
Now I have become the house husband, stay-at-home dad whose kids only need me to find a job so they can soar. Humbly, I recognize my talent wastes and withers as each day passes. In the process, I have begun to discover my true identity. It wasn’t stolen, but buried in manure just waiting to be uncovered. Alone, we are getting reacquainted. The cow pie skies are parting as I start anew three nickels short of a dime.
Enough introspection, I have floors to mop.