If you’re one of the millions of unemployed women in this country, while it may be of little comfort, I’ve been in your shoes.
In fact, I’m walking in your shoes right now — again.
Twenty-seven years ago this month, I was laid off from a television station in Knoxville, Tennessee.
As a reporter (Sundra Thompson back then) for WATE-Channel 6, I covered all kinds of news including a mudslide in Kentucky, a visit to town by President Reagan, and the 1982 World’s Fair.
For two and half years, I did live shots from news scenes; sat through endless school board meetings; and shared feature stories about interesting people in East Tennessee.
All that ended in January 1984, when management told a half dozen or so of us that our services were no longer needed. http://ktownradio.blogspot.com/2008_05_01_archive.html
Fast-forward to January 11, 2011. That’s when the Richmond Times-Dispatch management told me that my position as Senior Editor was eliminated.
For four years, I was part of the newsroom’s management team helping lead coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, President Obama’s inauguration, Bob McDonnell’s campaign for governor, and much more. I helped the newspaper develop new content including the popular weekly column, “In My Shoes” and MetroBiz2Go, an e-newsletter with imbedded videos. http://www2.timesdispatch.com/staff/9196/
Before noon on the 11th, I was told that my position along with others in the newsroom and other departments was being eliminated due to budget issues.
But what a difference 27 years makes.
In 1984, within hours of losing our jobs, a gang of us gathered at our favorite bar at a downtown hotel. We were there for quite awhile. I recall before the night was over, one of the anchors who got canned along with me, played the piano while we all sang along. Wonder where Lloyd Immel is these days?
Then I took my severance pay and headed on a road trip to California with my two best girlfriends. (That trip eventually involved losing a tiny Chihuahua in Los Angles, plans to save money by sleeping on the beach, and lots of bickering. But that’s a story for another time.)
This time around within hours of getting the news about my position, I was in contact with family, friends, and some of the hundreds of people I’ve met over the past four years in Richmond.
I admit I did go to the downtown Marriott’s T-Miller’s Sports Bar and Grille but that was mainly to have lunch and make some phone calls in a warm place. Besides I wanted to use the certificate my new former boss had given me as a Christmas gift.
Trust me: there was no heavy drinking or singing at the piano bar this time around.
When I was 26 and fresh out of a job, I coped and commiserated in person with those close to me. At 52, I did so mainly by cell phone, e-mail and Facebook.
So here’s some advice: If you’ve lost your job, don’t be ashamed. Reach out to those close to you, to those you’ve networked with over the years. Ask for their support. I bet you’ll be surprised. I have been.
The words of encouragement have poured in and made me realize this isn’t an obstacle, it’s an opportunity.
“With your creativity and forward thinking, I am sure there is another path for you to walk – even run – “in your shoes.” – Carla
“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help. You are a treasure!” — Mary
“Sorry you’ve got to deal with this, Sundra, but I know you’ll land on your feet.” – Marsha
Thanks friends! I will survive with help from you.
So how are you coping with your unemployment? What tips do you have for survival? I’d love to hear from others of you who are in my shoes.