Labor statistics confirm my pessimism. More than 14 million Americans are currently unemployed. In California, 12% are now unemployed. Nowadays, the Bureau’s statisticians wonder how long will people keep looking for work. Ironically, the likelihood of becoming employed decreases the longer one is unemployed.
These facts assure me that I am not alone.
Aside from the brazen men and women on Wall Street, I don’t think anyone meant to deliberately harm me. But, none of us could imagine what we never saw before: A moment as depressing and as ominous as the Great Depression.
Perhaps I followed America’s script too scrupulously: Get an education. Buy a house. Invest in the market. Swap up for bigger, better, larger, huge. I bought a mortgage that smelled like secrecy. It was too good to be true for three years. And then I bought a car that worked. Yes, that was me in my air conditioned car beside you, feeling beneficent. Handing money to tired men who wanted to wash my windows. Unaware, I’d lose my job. I’m not in shock now, but I’m also not any safer.
This woman I thought I knew lies dormant, still hoping things will change. My mother-in-law Cynthia [who lived through the first Great Depression] comforts me this way, “We had nothing, and we knew it. But we had so little, we never lost so much. Whatever you do, don’t internalize any of it.”
I have one more story to share. When Max was four years old, we went to an amusement park with a fountain that spit water at us unexpectedly. We loved these surprises because we never knew when the fountain would catch us off-guard. Over time we ran toward the water to master what might happen next. But we never really knew really when the water would find us.