I subscribe to the “Help a Reporter Out” emails that match up members of the media with “experts” for their stories. I scan the emails for my real job and also look for opportunities to promote my blog as a valued resource on butt puckering or jock strap shopping.
I thought my ship came in when I came across a request to interview people who had their full-time jobs cut to part-time. I gave the pitch about how my pay was reduced just as my family was trying to recover financially from my husband being out of work. I added that I was angry about the decision, but after a while, the change forced me to balance my family life and gave me time to create and write my blog.
Lo and behold, the phone rang and it was a reporter with CNN Money.com. He mentioned that he liked my blog and joked that he was happy that I was recovering from my surgery. During the interview, I explained how four years ago, my husband was unemployed for 10 months and that we were fortunate to be on my benefits during that time. Six months after he got back to work, my salaried job was restructured to 30 hours and my income reduced by 25%.
I went on to say that initially, I was bitter because we were trying so hard to rebuild from that tough period but I was lucky because I still had a job and that my husband now carried the benefits for our family. My babble included how after few months, I realized that the change forced me to balance my life, gave me a chance to help at my kids’ school and freed up time to pursue my passion for writing on (BIG PLUG HERE) mom-mom-mom.com.
Basically, it was a pretty crappy situation, but I had the best-case scenario of it all going down. I still had a gig and my family had health insurance. We already were trained to skimp and scrape.
Yep, the glass is always half full of vodka around here, people.
The reporter asked for a picture of me enjoying my time with my family to help illustrate the story. As the family photographer, there aren’t any pictures of me. I finally found one of Junior and me from three years ago – when I was working full-time, by the way.
He told me that the story would be running in a few days. I woke up at the crack of dawn and clicked on to the CNN website. There was my big old face with the headline: Part-time workers: More fine with no full-time job
My stomach sank. Holy shit. I was the poster child of the unemployment crisis.
Shawn Boyer, CEO of SnagAJob, a job posting site for hourly positions, thinks some part-timers are discovering the advantages that go with the disadvantage of smaller paychecks.
“You get a person who didn’t have a choice but to go into part time, and after adjusting to the lifestyle, they realize they have more of a work/life balance,” said Boyer.
That was the case for Karen King, a suburban Chicago marketing executive for a midsize specialty retailer. When she had her hours — and her salary — cut by 25% in early 2009, she thought it was a disaster for her and her family.
“I was angry, I was bitter, I took it personally. I felt like I was taken advantage of,” King recalled.
But soon she decided it was the best situation, even if it put a crimp in the family budget.
“I finally figured out the balance since it was forced upon me,” she said.
(PS. I am not a marketing executive. That was the only part of the article that made me chuckle.)
Within minutes, the angry comments started ranting about how out of touch this article was with the real problems of being jobless.
I wanted to chime in and write my whole back-story and let people know that I did not mean to be flippant about unemployment. I know the devastating toll it takes on a family. On a marriage. On your dignity. On your confidence.
You truly have no idea what it is like until you go through it.
I ran upstairs on the verge of tears and told my husband what happened.
He told me to stop reading the comments.
So I did. For another five minutes.
The comments kept rolling in.
I finally tore myself away from the computer and headed down to the basement to get Junior’s clothes out of the clean laundry pile. I caught a whiff of awfulness and decided that it was coming from the bathroom, decaying food or the hamster cage. I walk over to the cage and there is our hamster Nutmeg, rolled up on a corner, completely still. I poked him and he didn’t flinch.
He was running on that big hamster wheel in the sky.
Missy already left for school and I couldn’t break the news to Junior. He was Star of the Week and just made a poster featuring a big picture of Nutmeg. As soon as the coast was clear, I scooped Nutty up into a little tin and Tom cleaned out the cage.
It was just 7 a.m. and I was ready to upchuck.
I no longer cared that I was portrayed as a total A-hole on a national news website. My poor kids were going to have their hearts broken. And because I work part-time, I knew that I would be there to hold them as they cried.