Daunting New Day

After a refreshing vacation, getting back into the swing of things that first Monday was jarring. Sluggish from a marathon of daytime TV, too much eating, and not enough exercise made the return to real life all the more difficult.

And then.

Thorn and drill
I awoke to hear my dog, Elvis, whimpering in pain and licking his back paw. Attempts to check his paw were fruitless. He would bolt in pain, crying as if he’d been physically struck.

That morning I had a dentist appointment to replace two fillings. Nothing like the whir of a dentist’s drill to start the day right. After the appointment I could rush back home, pick up Elvis and take him to the vet. When I called work to leave a voicemail that I’d be late, there was a company-wide message on our system left at 4:00 a.m. From our president. Asking everyone to read his email before we did anything else.

Strange. I was in a rush however. No time to check emails just yet.

But the message nagged me as I sat in the dentist’s office getting jabbed with needles and drills. It niggled at my brain as the vet extracted a thorn from my dog’s paw. I checked voicemail again. There were two more messages from co-workers, asking that I call them.

These weren’t warm and fuzzy vibes I was getting.

The announcement
I made it to the office at 10:00 a.m., only to find it empty. I logged onto email. As luck would have it, the system froze. I couldn’t open any messages but I could see the senders and read the subject lines.

Like the one from our company president. With the subject line that read, “Urgent: Company being acquired.”

Suddenly the memory of the dentist’s drill and vet’s bill faded into oblivion as a new horror washed over me: potential unemployment.

I sat there, jaw agape, as my co-workers emerged from the conference room where an emergency meeting had just been held. There were many tears, shaky smiles, and stunned expressions.

And panic.

In this depressed economy, many of my co-workers are supporting an unemployed spouse. Others, like myself, are single and self-supporting. In either case, rare is the luxury of a back-up income. Most of us are just squeaking by.

Yet another statistic
Every day I read newspaper headlines regarding bankruptcies, layoffs , and acquisitions. I’ve watched hardworking family and friends lose their jobs. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes as they learn their unemployment checks are about to run out and sensed their frustration as they submit yet a dozen more resumes, without success. I’ve prayed for them when they worry about lack of health insurance or whether they’ll have enough money for one more mortgage payment. Several friends are being forced to sell their homes while others are behind on the rent. And I’ve prayed for myself, hoping I’m spared this scenario.

Preparing for a rainy day
Heeding the writing on the wall, I’ve cancelled trips abroad, electing to stay at home. I’ve started clipping coupons and frequenting stores like Target instead of Nordstrom. Getting my hair trimmed every 12 weeks instead of 6. Borrowing books instead of buying hard covers, eating in instead of dining out. Trying to build a nest egg for that rainy day.

Good thing too. Because unexpectedly that rainy day is here. In just a short while, I too may find myself out in the rain. Sharing an umbrella with over 1 million scared, determined, uncertain Americans.

All of us starting a new day not unlike my dog: with a thorn in our paw.