No one likes to read bad news, and I don’t really like writing about depressing things. But my little family has had our fair share of setbacks over the past few years, and sadly another one popped up recently. I considered not writing about it, although of course it then wouldn’t leave my brain to let me write about anything else. So here it is, and I’m only letting myself feel down about it in this one post and nothing more. If I get mopey in a future post, feel free to tell me to snap out of it.
Aaron got the bad news last week that his company is cutting him loose at the end of this month. He was told that it has nothing to do with his work, and everything to do with the president of the company choosing to run on a cash system – so if there’s a lull in contracts, like at the moment, he lets people go so he doesn’t run a debt. It’s a small company that depends on government contracts, and even though they recently won several contracts that should be coming soon, the money hasn’t arrived for them yet.
Aside from the head of the company, the VP’s and the project managers and everyone else he works with would rather he not leave. He’s the only writer they have, and his leaving means that the documentation for their projects – including an enormous user guide needed for a government agency software project due soon – will fall to, uh, someone else. Probably a project manager who isn’t exactly the best fit for something like that and would rather not do it and won’t do as well at it.
But despite objections from everyone else, the company president is focused on cutting expenses, even if it means cutting out staff who are vital to the development of the project. Not the wisest move in my eyes, but what do I know about business?
There is still talk of having Aaron stay as a contractor, with varying hours available to him, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Either way, we know that his steady income and all of our health benefits are out the door on May 31. He’s already updated his resume and has started networking. We know from experience that job hunting is rarely a short endeavor.
He’s angry, of course. Angry that he’s done everything right, has gone above-and-beyond for the company and has been praised over and over for his efforts, and gets rewarded by being laid off. It’s no wonder that loyalty towards a company by employees has been steadily declining – when treated like that, how can you do anything but constantly wonder when your employer will decide you’re not worth it? Too often now, an employee is just a set of skills to be used and discarded, and not a real person with a life and family and a relationship with the company. Mutual respect is gone.
I’m upset that we’re losing our health insurance again and hoping it will only be a short lapse. Why this country should continue to tie a family’s health insurance to their employment is beyond me. When people worked at the same company for 30 years, it made some sense for health insurance to be something shared between employer and employee as a benefit.
Now it’s just a cruel joke – if you work for the right company, you can get great insurance. Switch employers and it’s a gamble if your insurance could be worse in coverage and/or cost more. Your health didn’t change, and your need for certain coverage didn’t change, but because your job changed, your benefits and the amount you pay can drastically change. Lose your job with no ability to pay COBRA, and you have no coverage at all. What kind of a screwed up system is this? Why should a person’s job with a specific company dictate what kind of health care they can receive?
Not to get too political with this, but how is this a stable system for supporting the health of the country? A single payer system would be far more stable. Even if you don’t agree with a single-payer system, then it’s time to stop including health insurance as part of employment compensation plans entirely, raise the take-home pay for everyone and cap premiums from the profit-heavy insurance companies.
Stepping down from my soapbox now and returning to us: it’s obvious we’re scared and angry and frustrated, but we’ll be OK. I have a job at the moment that I love, so we do have some income. Aaron will qualify for unemployment if needed and has a lot of people trying to help him find another position.
It sucks to take a big step back financially (again), but money is just money. We may not be able to do or buy as much, but it can’t take away our family, our friends, or our determination to succeed.
And moments like this piss me off enough to push us to succeed, just to spite those who set us back. The best revenge is success.