It must have been either Tuesday or Wednesday this week, taking my kids to school, when my son asked me about "that guy that doesn't have a house."
Which guy? I asked.
"The guy that doesn't have a house," Chris replied. "The one we gave money to outside of White Castle."
I'd nearly forgotten about the homeless gentleman we saw outside a local restaurant a year or so ago — that's not a tremendously frequent occurrence here in Livingston County, but it's not unheard of, either. I took the chance to try to give the kid a life lesson in karma, and treating people how you'd hope others would treat you. I made Chris hand him enough money so he could at least buy dinner.
That recollection started a back-and-forth about the man we'd seen.
Why didn't he have a house? Well, likely something bad happened, like he lost his job.
Did he have a family? A wife and kids? That I didn't know, either.
A few days later, and now I also do not have a job.
Just a few weeks shy of my 11-year anniversary at The Oakland Press (after six years at the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun, in the same company), the plug finally got pulled on me.
Now, that doesn't make me singular in recent years in the field of journalism. It's happened to hundreds and hundreds of my colleagues over the last decade or so.
It doesn't even make me singular *TODAY*. Lots of others lost their jobs along with me today, people I've worked with a long time, and would go to battle for and with again.
So this isn't me asking for sympathy.
Shoot, the way the economy has been in this state for nearly a decade, it would be (and should be) in short supply.
No, this is just me taking a chance to vent a little after a frustrating day, a crappy one even if the handwriting has been on the wall for this for a long, long, long time. Just like nobody gets out of this life alive, very, very few of us in this business get out on their own terms.
And today, my number came up.
I'm OK with that part. I just don't really want my journalism career to end (so feel free to send me any job openings you have around here — as slim as that list is bound to be), in large part because I really don't want to start all over on a new career path at this point in my life. But it may be that I have to. I'll cross that bridge whenever I get there.
But I would like to thank everyone that reached out to me today — even if it was just reacting to posts on Twitter or Facebook — to check on me. As has happened in most jobs I've had in this field, I feel like I'm more appreciated by those I've worked around in the field, and by those who read my stuff, than I am in the office where I supposedly work.
That part, at least, feels good.
It's also good knowing that, for right now at least, we'll be OK. It'll be harder to justify spending money on some things without my income, but at least we're not going to lose the house. And I've still got the kids and my wife, as well as my friends and the rest of my family.
It sucks, but it's not the end of the world, not by a long shot.
It's an opportunity for me to try other things, hopefully, and find other ways to make money doing what I love to do.