"It can't happen to me!" A hurricane; tornado; illness; accident; job loss; house fire; homelessness...it always happens to someone else, right? I think one of the things that American's fear the most is to be homeless! And, being homesless happened to be one of my greatest fears...and it happened to me...TWICE!
My downhill slide came back in the 1990's, with SIX job layoffs over a decade or so...and all my job losses, were legitimate reasons such as companies moving; defense cuts and down-sizing, etc. I have never lost a job because of being fired for attitude or attendance problems, etc. And, there's not anybody to blame for the job losses except for a lot of bad luck on my part!
Millions of people all over the country, have lost their jobs over the past decade or so, and I have just been a little mis-fortunetate than others. During three of my job losses, I was one of the last people to leave the day of the closing, etc. Here, in Albuquerque, New Mexico where I live, we have had several companies shut down such as Phillips Semi-conductors; Trend Technology; EG&G; Seimens; Digital; Motorala; and the latest is AOL. The call center has been in Albuquerque since 1996, and will close in December, 2006 and nearly 1,000 people will lose their jobs!
It's an awful feeling to lose a job...your living...and have to start over! For me, it was like being in the ring with Mohaamed Ali, and getting knocked down in the first round; the second round; the 3rd...the 4th...the 5th...and the 6th round (my 6th job loss), and I nearly didn't get up from it! The ups and downs of it all...and the stress and depression that goes with it is sometimes unbearable!
My first job loss came when I was 48 years old, and I have no doubt that ageism (discrimination against older workers) played a part in my downfall. Into my early 50's, I had trouble getting a job, and finding work as a temporary employee. And, it was during this terrible time, that I was headed straight for the bottom!
After 9/11, when the economy was in shambles, was when it really got rough for me, and at the time, I was just surviving! And, it was really tough for my after my 5th job loss in May, 2004 when things really came apart for me. I suffered a stroke and had heart problems...and I couldn't pay the rent and was evicted from my apartment! Without family or support of any kind...I was homeless for the first time in my life!
"It can't happen to me," right?
After suffering the stroke, I was taken by ambulance to the VA Medical Center. I spent more than a month in the hospital the first time. While there, I learned of a VA program which helps veterans get back on their feet, by living and working at the VA Medical Center. I lived and worked at the VA for six months, and I was slowly getting back on my feet.
I moved from the VA...got a job and was slowing making a come-back, when I returned with heart problems, depression and other problems, etc. This time, I was hospitalized for over 3 months! Again, I was brought to the hospital by ambulance, and I was not able to make arrangments to get my possessions out of my apartment, and I lost everything! I suffered my "Katrina" in 2006..the same year as the real Katrina, and now I knew what the victims of Katrina felt like to lose all their possessions. All I had was the shirt on my back! Needless to say, I was depressed and devistated!
UPDATE: May, 2006. That was the update on my website in May, 2004 when I was taken to the hospital. Now...since I lost all my possessions, I was outside the candy store...looking in, because my website had been down-loaded into my computer which was gone! I was stripped of everything...28 cents on the dresser in my hospital room...what was I going to do! I knew at that point that I would never see my website again! It was one of the few things in my life, that brought me so much joy, as I got nice comments on it from all over the world! Now, I was close to losing it, too! Things were looking pretty dismal for me about this time!
Two surgeries during this time frame, and a pace-maker was implanted in my chest, which would now change my entire lifestyle.
Over several months, I was able to pay the fee to keep my website from being shut down, and I visited the public library and a community college time and again, to visit over a very long 2 1/2 years! Before I was discharged from the VA hospital (aftter 3 months), I was awarded a dis-ability pension, (Social Secuity followed), but as with the government, the money didn't come down right away, so I went to live in a homeless shelter, because I could not afford a place of my own, etc.
And yes, standing and eating in a soup line came with the package, and words cannot describe the loss of dignity and embarrassment when a person has to do something like this! I never thought something like this could ever happen to me!
So, with the loss of all my possessions, I had to start re-building...a spoon and a fork here...a shirt...there...a paper clip over there...starting over! The thought of buying a computer at the time was out of the question, and I thought I would never work on my website again! Depression was my constant companion! For 18 months, I paid for the website to remain open, but it was so frustrating to be in the candy store...looking in...and I couldn't do anything about it! At this point, I didn't know if I would ever be back. "It can't happen to me," right?
May, 2006 was the update on my website, and now it was Thanksgiving week (2006) and FINALLY...FINALLY...I bought my computer, and I was finally able to get to my website to get the furniture in order. I have a large website of over 200 pages and over 500 graphics, and I just sat there for over 20 minutes, as the modem put on green light show (phone line), and I was sure something was going to go wrong! There have been so many dissapointments for me in the past!
But, nothing went wrong with the down-load of my website...and YAHOO...and high-fives for everyone! SUCCESS! It was November 25, 2006...and with a lump in my throat and looking through glassy eyes...it was a day I'll never forget! It has been such a long time to be dis-connected...but, now I'm back...scary...isn't it?