It’s been over a month now since the boyfriend lost his job. Slowly but surely, we’re starting to find our way back to normal. Or, our new normal I should probably say. A lot has changed, but there’s a lot that still needs to be decided.
When you’ve been with a company for a long time there tends to be a blurring between your work life and personal life. The boyfriend had been with the “family of companies” for over 25 years, and always assumed he’d be there until he retired. He felt like his job security was rock solid, so he never much considered the “what if’s”. Being let go was a rude awakening, and the losses extended far beyond just losing his paycheck.
Since we worked for the same company, my boss was the one who informed me the boyfriend had been let go. She was nice enough to tell me I could take the rest of the afternoon off. I immediately tried to call him, only to get the President of the company; Since his cell phone was a company phone, they’d had him turn it in as soon as he was let go. The cell phone was his only phone. How was I supposed to get a hold of him? Where would he go?
Where he would go didn’t end up being much of an issue; He drove a company truck, so they dropped him off at our apartment after he was let go. That’s where I found him, sitting alone in the apartment, with no vehicle, no phone, no computer. Even if he had a way of calling someone, he couldn’t; He kept everyone’s numbers in his company phone. I understand that there are protocols and all that for letting someone go. But really?!? This is how you treat someone after 25 years?!?
I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but his mood was surprisingly calm, and he immediately started thinking about what we needed to do.
The first step was a vehicle. Luckily he’d bought an older Suburban from a friend 6 months prior. I’ll admit I didn’t feel like it was the best idea when he bought it. Sure, it was a great deal. But did he need it? And he didn’t have the cash, so he had to take out a small loan. At the time, it didn’t seem like the best idea. But it had already come in handy several times over the summer, and now it would prove to be a lifesaver. He’d left the Suburban at another friends house to have some cosmetic work done. So off we went to pick up his vehicle.
On the way back we stopped at Wal-Mart to buy him a cheap, temporary cell phone. He’d already decided to follow my lead and get a Republic Wireless phone, but he needed something to fill in for a few days until the phone arrived. My thoughts were to buy him a simple Trac-Phone. But, Wal-Mart being Wal-Mart, it wasn’t that easy. Have I mentioned I hate Wal-Mart? Apparently Virgin Mobile has sales reps at Wal-Mart lurking around their prepaid cell phones. The rep immediately pounced when he saw us, and talked the boyfriend into one of the Virgin Mobile phones. Which they ended up not having in stock. A 10 minute trip for a simple, temporary phone turned into an hour ordeal. And we still didn’t get a phone. The boyfriend had to make a second trip the next day.
All said and done, the Virgin Mobile phone cost him around $30, and he got a $25 prepaid, no contract plan with unlimited calls and 50 text messages. The rep had told him they would set the phone up, but that didn’t end up being the case, so he had some frustrations trying to get things setup. It was a basic flip phone, which was okay for the (less than a) week that he needed it. Of course, I was livid a few days later when I found out Virgin Mobile had been texting him non-stop, asking for responses rating their service, or general “how are things going” texts. Basically a scam to use all your texts, so you have to reload your plan before the end of the month. Not that we needed it for that long, but I saw this as a completely predatory practice. Especially given the economic situation of people who are typically buying prepaid plans. But his Republic Wireless phone came, and we were even able to port his new Virgin number over, so he didn’t have to contact everyone again to switch his number.
The next few weeks were spent filling in the gaps. We had to rebuild his contact list, and he had to reach out to all of his friends and family to let them know how to get ahold of him. He lost his company laptop, along with his company email address, which he had always used as his personal email address as well. For now we’re sharing my laptop, and I set him up with a new email address. It’s been a hassle going through and updating everything, from banking and credit cards, to loans and rewards programs. You don’t really think much about all the things you use your email address for. Some thing were easier than others. Chase was by far the worst; For security reasons, you can only log onto your account from a “known computer”. It wanted verification for him to sign in from my computer. How do they verify? Via text or email, of course! We spent over an hour trying to get through to someone at Chase to fix it so he could log into his account. When we finally reached someone, he was incredibly nice, and very helpful. It was just a long and tedious process!
In addition to the phone, and truck, and laptop (email!), the company also paid for the apartment where we stay. We’ve decided for now to keep the apartment. The rent is $700/month, plus electric, which runs from $60-90, depending on the season. Initially I offered to pay for the apartment, at least until he could get things sorted out. We finally settled on my paying half the rent. It’s looking very likely that we’ll be putting my house on the market as well. Finally!
At first, the boyfriend was hoping to find a similar supervisory position at another company. Now, he’s not so sure. Does he really want that kind of stress? And he’s technically eligible for retirement. How long does he plan to stick with it? Over the past few years, we’ve discussed moving, starting a small business, retiring. The world seems wide open, and we haven’t really decided what direction we’re headed in yet. But he obviously needed an income. So, being union, the boyfriend was able to let the union know he was unemployed, and get put “back on the board” for a job. He’s been back to work now for a few weeks. The job is technically temporary, but it’s looking like they might have more work lined up. Maybe enough to get him through the winter. Maybe longer. It gives him some breathing room to think about what he wants. Maybe he’ll stick with something like this until he’s ready to retire? Maybe another company will offer him something better in the Spring?
Of course, being back on the job means having to drive long distances to job sites. As part of his old contract, ALL of his fuel was paid for by the company, both for business and personal uses. The man hasn’t paid for gas in years. Maybe even decades! Do you know how much it costs to fuel a Suburban? The logical solution, given that I work less than 10 minutes from home, was that I would drive the Suburban, and he would take my Escape. It’s not a permanent change; We’ve talked about him trading the Suburban in for something more fuel-efficient. But, that’s going to have to be at least a few months down the road.
So, that’s where we are. It isn’t perfect, but it’s gone much more smoothly than we expected. We foresee some big changes in the future, and he’s hopeful that they come sooner, rather than later. But, that’s a post for another day.
– Cindy W.