Big Brother Can You Hear Me?

There is another fellow writer here on Medium, Jay. We follow each other and we are a ban of brothers in a state of misery. Although we have never met and have never spoke our stories are the same with millions more like us joining our parade of economic misery.

We now are part of those that we thought we’d never be. We stayed out of trouble in our youth. No juvenile delinquent hall for us. We got good grades, played sports and prepared for college. We made it through college. We started a career. We worked hard. We saw what happened to those that made bad life choices early on and we thanked our lucky stars we had the guidance to steer us in the right direction.

Some years later (10 for me) the MBA was all the rage so we took our GMATs and went to night school. Four long years of little sleep, lots of stress from both work and school, and alienation from ordinary life. But we assumed it was the key to the good life so well worth those few tough years. Off then we went with our MBA in hand and onto the road of success.

We turned age 50. Wow! It didn’t seem possible. However we hadn’t lost our energy or thirst for success and new experiences. We were at the top of careers, respected for our knowledge, wisdom, and guidance. Then the Great Recession hit. Some were let go immediately. Others like me it took five years until 2013.

We read all the horror stories of this new job market. But the media kept saying it was those without a college degree and the young with no experience to back up that degree. We were the professional class, being told by the media we were still in demand. We assumed it would be just another change in our life like before.

Then why was I having so much trouble, particularly since by 2013 the job seemed to be recovering. I and many others soon found out. Those new jobs they were overwhelmingly part time, temporary or gig. The few mid level professional positions were going to the under 40 crowd. For Jay and I and millions more there was and continues to be nothing.

Each day is another problem and an endless,unwinnable struggle. For 35 years plus we had pristine credit never with one late payment. Today we dodge creditors. We borrow from Paul to pay Peter. We have gone through savings and live on credit cards and whatever part time jobs we can scrounge up. We full time job search each and every day sending our “strong” resumes and artfully written cover letters into the black hole of cyber job hunting. We occasionally get a call which leads nowhere once the hiring manager determines our age and “overqualified” skills level. In fact, a recent study showed that those over age 50 will have just as hard as a time replicating their former pay and job types as those with only a high school diploma. So much for great experience.

Suddenly we look back and we see everything we did caused our future undoing. How is that for irony. Do all the right things and we now pay for it.

When I lay my head down to sleep at night the pain in my body grows intense. The never ending stress is taking its toll. The body is growing weary. We wonder whether we will go in the middle of the night from heart attack or stroke, and we think that might not be so bad. We are fighters and doers by spirit but the spirit is being squashed.

We write here on Medium and other blogs. We wonder when media (other than a recent PBS News Hour special) will pick this up story. We try to have hope that we will be on the road to recovery but we see no such road.

Another day, another piece of bad news. A call from a bill collector, an unexpected bill in the mail, another rejection email, another turn down for help, another sympathetic voice telling us to get “counseling.”

When we this end for myself and Jay? And will the ending be ugly? Is this the future? When did the social contact get ripped up?

Big brother, can you hear me? We just want to be normal again.

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