If you're just tuning in, I lost my job on Friday. Although the economy has sucked for a long time, and I was well aware that finances at The Firm were not doing so great, I had simply no idea how bad things truly were, and I was absolutely blindsided by the news on Friday. The shock came in waves of anger, sadness, and panic. I have been employed, non-stop, since I turned 16 years old. With the exception of the odd vacations, I have never "not worked" since that time. As much as I bitch and moan about how I wish I was independently wealthy and didn't need to work for a living, I don't know how to "not work". Unemployment has just never been an option for me, and I have always been the sort of person who, regardless of how bad a job may have been, always secured a new job before I quit another. The one time I quit a job on the spot, in the heat of a particularly nasty moment, I was working retail, and went to the mall that very same day, walked into every single retail store asking if they were hiring, and left the mall employed that very same day. I don't know how to be unemployed. The idea of not having an income is so overwhelming that I can't focus on it any longer than the amount of time it took me to write this sentence without breaking into a sweat.
As you all know, I am single. As you all probably also know, I own my own condo. This means I am SOLELY responsible for paying my mortgage, putting food on my table, paying the utility bills, insurance, and all other expenses of life. I do not have a secondary income, I do not have a fall back plan. And because I have been seriously underpaid at my current...uh...previous job, I do not have a savings account. That panic rising in me...it is monumental if I allow it to peek through.
The details, in a nutshell: The Firm is already severly short staffed, with two attorneys, one paralegal (yours truly), a part time receptionist, an useless office manager (really no bitterness there...ha), the bosses' wife, who does not take a paycheck, the bosses' daughter who "works" one day a week, and the bosses' brother, who does the cleaning after hours. That's it folks, no bells and whistles on that operation. This week The Boss told his daughter next week would be her last week, he also told his brother the same thing. The receptionist will receive her notice on Monday, because she was out sick on Friday. (She will actually find out today because I plan on calling her to give her the head's up, but she's young and has another full time job, so I'm certain she'll be fine). And then there was me. I was given two week's notice on Friday. I will work the next two weeks, and then get my two week's vacation pay. And then I'm done. There is no money for a severance package, there really is no money for much of anything, and in fact, I highly doubt they'll be able to keep The Firm open much longer. Things are dire. And in case you're wondering, yes, the Nazi, the useless office manager, is keeping her job. Supposedly, she's cuttin down to part time, but I won't even go there...she's the only portion of this equation that angers me.
The Boss is and has been the best boss I've had to date. As far as lawyers go, the guy is one in a million, making me feel like a vital part of the operation, and knowing how to say not only "please and thank you", but also "good job" and "we couldn't do it without you". And yet, now they'll have to, won't they? I hold no hard feelings toward him, in fact, feel sorry for him, because this is his life's work, about to fall apart. And I know how seriously he genuinely cares for me, not just as an employee, but sort of as another one of his "kids". When I tell you he shed tears as he was telling me of the situation, I kid you not. His wife, as well, sobbed as we talked about it. We are very much a "family" and that is perhaps why this sucks as much as it does. This is the longest I've ever worked at a job, and it wasn't because the money was good.
I mention being seriously underpaid...folks, I haven't seen a raise in 3 years. But I enjoyed my job, and was willing to sacrifice the extra money for the peace of mind. Even if "whisper wednesdays" got to me.
But that's the background. Here's where we stand now: I have approximately one month's worth of paychecks left before panic truly sets in. I cannot afford to go on unemployment alone, so I will be working on my resume today, and going out to buy an interview suit. I will be looking for a job that will pay me, likely, about 50% more than what my current salary is. Hold on, let me say that again...50% more. Of course, that's what with my level of experience I should be getting paid, but in today's economy, it's likely that I'll have to settle for less...still, less than 50 will likely still be at least 25% more than I make now.
So now you're saying "Why the hell didn't you leave your job earlier Karina?" I know, I know. But as much as I love shoe shopping, money has just never been a determining factor for me. I'm more about peace of mind, and this job offered me more of that than any other job I've ever had. I was willing to sacrifice the paycheck size for that. But now that I have no choice, let's focus on the big bucks, shall we?
Anyway, long story
I'm hoping to hold off the panic for a few weeks at least, and focus on action instead. If you stayed with me all the way through this insanely long post...thank you. I think I just needed to get it all down, and out of my own head. Now I must go get dressed, because I have a power suit to go buy.