Friday, September 10, 2010

Beauty and the Beast - Travel and Unemployment

The beauty and wonder of a country the size of the United States is that there is so much to see and do across a nearly incomprehensible scale. The absolute curse and downfall of a living in a country this size is the distance and amount of time it takes to get to these natural and man-made wonders! Add in to this paradigm the demands of earning a living and there can precious little time left to see the types of things foreign and even out of state travelers specifically plan in to their lives. The old "Jeez, I've never been there," conversation.

Another irony is that of being in between jobs. In this case there is all the time in the world to finally explore lost highways and bi-ways but extreme feelings of personal guilt and societal pressure to find work as soon as possible. Being out of work is not the time, so they say, to go gallivanting around the wilderness on personal quests or to visit remote and forgotten landmarks.
There's time enough for that, so they also say, after you've found work, and the income to pay for it as well.

That's just it! There was never enough time to go to, say, Mt. Rushmore, while working for a host of reasons. Plane tickets weren't cheap and on two weeks of vacation those usually went towards family functions back home. There is truth in not spending severance money or savings on vacations without knowing when or where new income will be found to replace it, but....

In September of 2001 I was among the first wave of furloughs to suffer from the combined effects of an over-heated economy and the attacks on the World Trade Center. My employer at the time furloughed 20,000 staff within 60 days of September 11th; I was one of them. In that singular moment few in the country knew where their next job was going to come from. Severance packages and unemployment benefits flowed like manna from heaven which is not to say such resources were wasted or frivolously burned through like lottery winnings. There was simply no better time to take that adventure.

What better way to not only detox from a traumatizing moment in history but also purge lost employment from the mind, re-energize the soul and re-calibrate the brain towards new endeavors that by necessity were forced upon us all. "Lifers," like me dug deep to discover transferrable skills previously unknown or not fully considered. This particular job search was going to be a long and arduous one so why not take some time finally just for me.

Could I have used the time to search for work? Yes. Would I have found something quickly? Considering the state of shock across every industry immediately following September 11th, not likely.

What I did find, however, was worth far more than just another job. And I found a few other things along the way as well.

Gotta go.

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