Because that is business

A cloud, a dark cloud, has settled over our house.

It isn’t visible, and if you come to visit you will never suspect that it is there, obstructing our view, preventing us from seeing the future, a bright future, a future that fills us with hope.

Oh, of course, we have to remain hopeful, for to be human is to be full of hope, but with each passing day, that hope reduces a little bit more.

You  see, we are unemployed.

We did all of the right things.

We got a university education, we applied for jobs and we progressed our careers.  When our autistic son was born, we made the decision that I would remain at home to give him the best possible chance to live an independent life.  This also ensured that Mr C had a clear path, unencumbered, to forge his career.  And forge he did.  One job followed by another better one, the way it should happen we were told.

For the past ten years he worked for the same company, helping it grow from a small company, to one that employs over 400 people.  He was instrumental in helping it list on the stock exchange.  It was a good symbiotic relationship.  He brought all of his hard earned education and skills and they rewarded him with career progression.  And then, one day in September last year, without warning, he was simply let go.  The company was moving in a different direction, he was told.  There was no place for him anymore. He was 48.

We didn’t worry.  We were disappointed, of course, but Mr C would just say “It’s not personal, it is simply business.”  He would easily find another job, he said.

In his 25 year career, we had done all the things we were meant to do.  We bought a home, we saved, we bought cars, we then bought our parents a home because they had spent a lot of money coming to this country to be with their family and it was the least we could do for them.  We would look after them, not the state.  Having travelled to so many countries, we took the responsibility of providing for our own retirement and not leaving it to the government very seriously too, and so we bought an investment property.

As our income grew, commensurate with experience, so did our way of life.  We did all the things that society told us we should do.  We employed local people to clean our home at a rate $10 an hour above the going rate, we stimulated the economy by buying things.  Nothing too extravagant you understand, for we are and always will be middle income earners, but we did all that we were meant to do.  We played our part.

And now we have been cast aside.

Because that is business.

And we aren’t allowed to talk about how emasculating it is to go for one interview after another only to be given no definitive reason why you aren’t the right person for the job.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how men over a certain age find it increasingly difficult to find work.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how being in continuous employment with one company for nearly 10 years is no longer a good thing.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how being prepared to do just any job is not an option for those of us who have done all the right things that society says we should do, and now have responsibilities that we need to meet.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how we fought hard not to be a drain on society, about how we made sure that no one in our family would be left behind.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how we did everything we could to prepare for our future.  We aren’t allowed to talk about how angry we are, how demoralised we have become.

Because that is business.

It’s been nearly 9 months.

With each passing interview, most of which have many many applicants, I have watched my husband question time and again what it is that he isn’t bringing to the table.  We engaged the services of a career coach, a consultant who knows the market, who has rejigged the resume, helped improve his interview skills, because as an introvert, apparently, he isn’t selling himself that well, and doesn’t have a strong enough network.  To be an introvert, apparently, is not a good thing.

It’s been nearly 9 months.

We have been advised to start our own business.  Good advice for those with an entrepreneurial nature, but we aren’t allowed to talk about how not everyone is cut out for the stresses of running and starting a business, or the capital required to start such a venture means taking money from a pot that is already much reduced, where the aforementioned responsibilities are still snapping at our door.  The world is out there for our taking, we are told, how irresponsible of us not to take it, how irresponsible not to wish to risk everything.

Mr C, as ever, remains upbeat, of course.  He remains ever hopeful.

But right now, in this moment, my hope is waning.

As I look at my son, I wonder if a man with a university education and over 23 years of solid experience is unable to secure employment in a city that is meant to be filled with opportunity, what chance does he have.

Our world is shrinking.  But I am not allowed to talk about that.  I am not allowed to talk about how we risk losing everything.  I am not allowed to talk about my disappointment at the world.  I am not allowed to talk about the gnawing feeling in my stomach every morning as my eyes open, yet another day of responsibilities needing to be met, another day my beautiful strong willing husband faces without work.

I am not allowed to feel these things because we are well off.  We have a roof over our heads.  We have an investment property, made possible by the policy of negative gearing, ensuring that in our retirement we won’t be a drain on society – because that is what we are told we are when we grow old – we are a drain.  We are told that it is our responsibility to provide for our future, and we have done that.

We are not allowed to feel anger that we now face selling off those assets that we worked so hard to gain in order to maintain at least a roof over our heads.

Because that is business.

I am not allowed to feel angry when our Prime Minister tells us to vote for him, because he will work to ensure a stronger economy will ensure more jobs.  Good Sir, respectfully, you are a liar.  Our economy has not provided any more jobs in these past 10 years, despite surviving the financial crisis.  The USA and the UK, certainly most hardest hit by the crisis, now have lower unemployment rates than we do.

We are constantly told that it is our moral duty to work, to earn and to spend.  It is our moral duty not to rely on governments to provide anything.  Everything has privatised.  Prices have soared.  And yet the rhetoric remains that it is we, not governments or business, who are the failures when we cannot meet our obligations.  But I am not allowed to be angry at this lie.

Because that is business.

And so I sit here.  Feeling the weight of the cloud that sits above our house.

Feeling confused.

Feeling confused because I am not allowed to feel anger.  Feeling confused because we did all that was expected of us.  Feeling confused because I risk being considered ungrateful for all that we have worked to gain.  Feeling confused, because I risk being told that we have so much when others have so little, and so I am not allowed to grieve.  Feeling confused because we did all the right things, and without rhyme or reason we have been cast aside.  Feeling confused because we are not allowed to question the economic machine that not only made the decision to do this but places the responsibility to provide for our future and not be a drain on society at our door.  Feeling confused because we are meant to do this out of thin air.

Because, dear reader, that is business.

Until next time,

SHW Signature AmyG Font

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21 thoughts on “Because that is business

  1. Oh Sarah. I hope that things change soon. My husband is 48 too, and frankly, we have not done all the right things at all, and I don’t know what would happen to us if he lost his job. It’s a terrifying prospect, and part of what I am trying to go back to university. Our society is terribly upside-down sometimes, valuing youth over experience and loyalty, and it may be business but it is not right x

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    1. Thank you Dani. Both Mr C and I are rethinking our lives and deciding if it is worth retraining, perhaps even a completely different life with the proverbial seachange. The truth is, in this day and age, with its value of capitalism over community, it won’t matter what we do, it still remains that currently our only choice is to risk everything of the life that we built and loved. I wish you luck in your uni journey by the way – that is something that no one will ever be able to take away from you. xx

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  2. Reading this made me feel angry that things are this way for so many decent, hard-working people who have done all the ‘right things’. It is appalling that your family is going through this. Your post will resonate with so many people who, as you say, aren’t allowed to talk about this stuff. It’s the ruling global elite that have made society like this deliberately – it must be because it is like this all over the ‘civilised’ world now. Can’t be a coincidence that ALL governments are abandoning decent people in their hour of need. It happened to me – I got flung out of my job in my fifties and it feels just awful – I didn’t even try to get another job because the working world is so fickle and back-biting now. I so hope that something positive comes along soon Sarah.

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    1. Thanks Gilly. It has been really devastating for us and has come as quite a shock. I think you are right, finding work in our middle age has proven so difficult. We are left wondering what our next move should be considering we have elderly parents for whom we are responsible and a son with a ‘disability’ (in inverted commas, because he hates being considered disabled). It is a difficult place to be in. The capitalist machine does not work for the average hard working person that is for sure.

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  3. Not sure if my other comment got through – but just had another thought in relation to the comment above about our upside down societies valuing youth over experience and loyalty – that’s EXACTLY how it is in the UK now too. I don’t get it because it isn’t good business sense surely? Do you remember the film Logan’s Run? I feel a bit like we are living in that kind of world now!!!

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    1. I would say the same thing. It isn’t good business. We know that 2 younger people were employed to fill Mr C’s role, neither of whom would have had the breadth of experience he had. Not only that, he had been with the company for 10 years and there was never an inkling that his work was not up to par. In fact, just 12 months earlier he had been awarded Employee of the year. It makes no sense at all.

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  4. I am so sad to read this. I know a few people in similar situations. Organisations value youth over experience each and every time it seems. My uncle is in his fifties, a very well respected and awarded engineer and cannot find any work in his field. He is facing similar decisions to the ones you described. I hope that your husband finds work soon. I think the government needs to do a lot more work to address this growing trend.

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    1. Thank you Robyna. It has been tough and we are finding more people in our age bracket experiencing the same thing. I wish we had the ability to start a company that employed only people over the age of 50! I hope Mr C finds work soon too.

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  5. It is such a lie isn’t it? We think if we give our productive years over to being productive, we will be able to relax a little as we age, take it slower and eventually, retire according to the rules of the ‘good girl/boy club’. But the rules were written for a different economy. It’s heartbreaking to see so many good people facing such difficult decisions. It’s heartbreaking that there isn’t the forum for talking openly and honestly about this in society. People turn their heads away if you try to talk about anything uncomfortable. But we must talk about it! Your post opens a door for many people, Sarah. So many people who feel they can’t express their anger and frustration at the topsy turvy values of our world.
    Recently, I was told I could no longer teach. It was just after learning I was in remission and could finally go back to work. I was told that older teachers like me need to make way for the oversupply of newly trained teachers. I could re-train at the cost of $4000 I don’t have, or find something else to do. What happened to valuing experience? Since when did kids benefit from having relief teachers who don’t know yet how to manage a classroom? There’s something so wrong with the picture. And with Mr C not being able to find employment yet. It’s crazy. Society sacrifices so much by ignoring the people who have been quietly building it. Wrong wrong wrong. My heart goes out to you two. Hang in there. I hope it is true that the darkest hour is just before dawn. XXXX

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    1. Oh Rachel, I am so sorry to hear about your experience. I think you are right, society does lose out by not acknowledging those that help build it. We never ever thought we would be in this position, but here we are. And it frustrates me that we are being told that we must accept a lower paying wage simply to bring in some income rather than no income. The victim is further victimised, all in the name of business, accused of being lazy for getting frustrated that they can’t find work that pays what we were paid before when younger people are in fact being paid that income, if not more. I hope the dawn comes soon, I truly do.

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  6. Scary, Sarah. My husband’s the same age as your husband, and I think he is staying in a fairly bland work environment (and I’ve fallen into the same trap), because we are seeing the challenges that friends of ours are experiencing that aren’t that different to what you are going through. And it is so hard to know what to do – plus, it seems to be emphasised by the contrast between those who have work (seemingly secure, at times, but who knows), and those who don’t. I don’t know the answer, without dismantling so much of what our society is based on, and that would take a major shift. Could it happen? Who knows. I hope though that things progress a bit more for you both x

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    1. I think you have hit it on the head Helen, it is almost as if our society as we know it truly does need dismantling and needs a major shift in its way of thinking. I am frustrated by how little value those people past the age of 40 seem to have in society – too old for work once they lose it, and yet not old enough to be considered someone who has contributed to society to any great degree. I would like to think that a major shift could happen, indeed, it seems to me that for it not to happen, in an ageing society such as ours, it would result a society that will implode in which case everybody loses.

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  7. Wow Sarah, just WOW! My husband lost his job last month aged 43, whilst I was in hospital for my mental illness. He had taken this new job that finally rewarded his experience and expertise only 2 months earlier, so he received no payout. He had worked for his previous company for over 8years taking in from a 4 person company to employing more than I can count, delivering many engineering projects. Now he is out in the cold wilderness of unemployment, whilst I have not been able to work since I was sacked almost a year ago – my mental illness certainly is exacerbated by all this stress. Hubby studied hard, got a PhD, worked hard, followed the path, paid all his taxes, paid our mortgage, provided well for our family and gave to others. Now we too face ‘losing everything’ or making a complete sea/tree change, in fact we are already packing up to move interstate for him to get a job. We would be leaving our home of 12 years, our friends, school community and family……….all for a job 😟

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    1. Oh Loupy Lou, I am so saddened to hear this. I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am. In an alternate universe I wish people of our age were valued for all that we have to offer. I wish with all my might that life brings you everything that you need and I hope you are okay. Thank you for your comment. Thank you xx

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  8. (I found you via Annette’s blog.) Anyone who thinks job hunting is easy has never done it. There aren’t a lot of good jobs in my field; so between “proper” jobs (for me) I take whatever jobs I can get. But even what jobs I can get haven’t been great.
    After two years of struggling on a part time income, I am lucky enough to have a full time, permanent job now. It’s not in my field of work but hey, I can pay the bills.
    I wish more people understood that anyone could end up with these stresses on one whim by the company.
    If you don’t mind me leaving a link, I wrote this about job hunting two years ago, but a lot of it still applies: http://kikiandtea.com/2014/05/homeless-year/
    Frankly I think more people need to talk about this stuff because if we all keep it silent, no one will learn. Wishing continued luck to your husband for his job search.

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    1. I agree Vanessa. We definitely need to be talking about this and we need to impress upon people that it isn’t their fault the system isn’t working. I’ve read your very brave post and left a comment. Thank you for commenting here xx

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  9. I’m gutted for you and Mr C, Sarah. This is a story we are hearing more and more and it has us all shaking in our boots. I am so disappointed that a family that has worked so hard is left feeling this way and I know that THIS COULD BE US too. I hope Mr C (or Mrs C) finds employment soon. He’s working so hard at it, that it HAS to happen, right? It just has to!! x

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    1. Thanks Bron. It has been tough, and has come as a complete shock. Never in a million years did we think we would be in this position, yet here we are. It’s been humbling to say the least. And you are right, Mr C getting a job HAS to happen soon – law of averages and all that :-).

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