At five-thirty this morning, the Husband fumbled for the silent alarm clock beside our bed and whispered urgently to me: We’ve overslept!
The reality being that we hadn’t, at all, that the alarm he was certain he’d heard was imaginary, but we’re all a little on edge right now, and it stands to reason that he might feel anxious that he’d slept through the starting bell of yet another round.
Fact Number 1. The Husband walked into work a week ago to discover his job no longer existed. Handed over his corporate cell phone; was handed the proverbial cardboard box to put his personal effects in, and that was that. A small drama being played out all over the country this month; a chorus swelling in the background of the day-to-day that sings out this: laid off.
Fact Number 2. He is not the first parent from Elder Girleen’s class of fifteen kids to fall under the wheels of the corporate bus.
What do I know of recessions? The first one that occurred in my lifetime meant nothing to me but lines at the gas pumps I walked past on my way to school and the president’s cardigan-clad plea that we turn down our thermostats a few degrees.
And the second? Well, when you’re hardly wet behind the ears and make minimum wage and survive off coffee and cigarettes and filched sugar packets from Wendy’s, where the salad bar means all you can eat, how does a recession touch you? It was nothing but a word, and besides, I was too busy applying to grad school to notice much, although now that I think about it, my longing to escape the real world for the ivory tower might have been considered pretty telling.
But this time, I’m a card-carrying grown-up and find it hard to consider recession just a word (which was how I got through last go-round, when I was just a few semesters past having failed economics and my only dependent was a siamese cat — hey! light another cigarette! strike up the band!).
Last Wednesday, it was still just a word. One we were worried about, yes, but in a fairly hypothetical sense. Today it’s tangible and real-to-the-touch. Who knows what’s going on with the guy who lays on the horn in traffic for what seems like no reason? Who knows what’s behind the fact that some mom drags her kids into school late? It’s hard times out there. We’ve got to be gentle with each other.