Saturday, January 31, 2009

Recession Fears

I read the internet news. What I read about the economy frightens me. And there are so many many stories about the economy.

Last week started with stories about large companies that are laying off thousands of workers. Their profits have been dropping, and this is what they must do to survive. New homes and buildings are not being constructed so Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of heavy earth removal machinery is slowing production of equipment, closing plants, and laying off workers. People are not buying new computers, or digital cameras, so Microsoft and Kodak are laying off workers. Macy's are closing under preforming stores and so is the pricey coffee maker Starbucks. Locally I have seen that the car dealership where we service our P.T. Cruiser has closed. And then when we last went to the Holyoke Mall we saw that my favorite clothing store, a store that sells clothing made for larger sized women, is now empty. Whatever percentage our unemployment is at they predict that things will grow worse, layoffs will increase, until perhaps we shall see 10% unemployment. They say that this is the worst recession since the great depression. The average American has drastically cut their spending. I read where some women were interviewed and one third said that they would not be buying new clothing next year. Our gross national product is shrinking. Most of the world's nations have money problems so overseas the demand for American goods is dropping. The government of Iceland declared bankruptcy last week. In France people went on a nation wide strike and marched to protest unemployment. It is not only the United States that is suffering.

My husband has made his career in manufacturing. He has worked at a company that during the recession in the 1990's laid off workers. He said that then there was fear in the air when you went to work. No one knew if their job, or the company, would survive. Yesterday everyone in his workplace had to sign a contract saying that they understand that their job can be terminated at any time for any reason. I don't know if this is the beginning of there being fear at his workplace. He tells me that he has seen little sign of a slow down in the manufacturing of their product. Perhaps one change is that they are shipping out less work to be done by other companies and are instead doing it themselves. But he has talked to men in other departments (his own is quality control) and he has learned that the company recently invested in more new equipment and visibly expanded to take up space in a second building. So there are indicators that the company is strong. But I wonder. And I fear. Mike and I console each other by coming up with ways that he is valuable to his company. He counts on his fingers, these many people have been at the company longer than I. But these many people were hired after me. It is good that I am certified in DSQR work, that makes me valuable, there are very few people who are certified in DSQR work. I almost have five years with the company. Companies are reluctant to let you go after you have had five years with them.

One night, last week, I began to cry from fear. "Live one day at a time" Mike said to me. I thought about this. Right now he has a job and his company is strong. We have no debts. We are able to save a little every month. Our apartment belongs to my mother and it is certain that I can stay here for as long as I live. But I worry about catastrophe, and I cannot free myself from the fantasy that the worst will happen to us, that Mike shall lose his job, that we shall experience poverty, that I will stop being able to afford fresh fruit. I worry about losing my teeth. I worry about not being able to afford paint. I worry that I can't afford the latest drugs, that I will have to switch from the expensive Geodone to the cheap Trilifon, and that without my latest designer drug, I will experience again catatonia, locked in my brain, unable to move, feeling that it is the end of everything, and needing to be hospitalized or worse, acting on my impulses and mistakenly killing myself. If I am emotional mess, will I overburden my marriage and lose some of the love of my husband? I have lived in poverty before, lived on disability, lived on Trilifon, and yet, why do I so dread a return to it? Why do I think that I am so weak that any catastrophe with Mike's work will be the end of all happiness? When Mike asked me to live one day at a time I was unable to do it. I was drowning in fear. And then I thought to myself, "I will go to Church" and this settled me. I've been to church before. In church they talk about hope. In church they believe in a God that brings blessings, and if you have blessings, which I do, you find the time to say thank you. All your fears you offer up to God. And all your fears you trade, you give them away and take in return peace.

Mike said that he would go to church with me, that we would try different churches, until I found the one that was right for me. Then I would have to go to church alone. I will wait until Spring to go to church. My good clothing is all one size smaller, I have to diet down to fit into it all. And my hair is two colors, my natural dark streaked with silver and the dyed light brown. By Spring I can have my hair cut short, all the dyed hair removed. Thus I will present myself in my good clothing and with dignified hair. Mike said I could go to Church now, in jeans, with two colors of hair, but I do not wish to do such a thing. I like to make a good impression. My fear is not constant, I am not in crisis. God waits, I wait.

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