- Posted February 8, 2009 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Surviving a tough economy
It Started Before the Downturn
I lost my job about 15 months ago working as a systems engineer for a global company for over 7 years. I didn't think getting a new job would be a difficult task, my being in the IT industry and with several years of experience. I was offered a nice severance package and having always enjoyed photography decided that a vacation would be a good starting point before circulating my resume.
I left Ohio on a Saturday morning and drove west for four days. I stayed on the back roads, avoiding highways and interstate travel and large cities. I planned to take photos of landscapes and old barns,of which I took several. What I ended up taking more pictures of though was of the people I met. I was saddened by the stories they had to tell. Keep in mind, this was in April of 08, before the downturn. I met families in Missouri who had been living in motel rooms for weeks on end, kids running around in the parking lot while Dad went out searching for work one day, Mom the next. I didn't question the issue of school for the children. It seemed to be none of my business. The flash card in my Nikon was filling up with much more than images of mountains and barns. It was also filling up with the faces of kids, laughing and smiling, oblivious to the struggle their parents faced and with the worried faces of their parents. Did they have enough gas for the in much need of repair car for tomorrows job search or to get to the food pantry. How much longer would they be able to stay in the room they were renting.
I encountered these issues and several other stories of unemployment and struggle not only in Missouri, but in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky and Tennessee. Through many small and medium size towns I would walk the sidewalks seeing far more empty stores than open, full shelved ones. The people, for the most part were upbeat and optimistic but behind the eyes one could sense the worry. To add to the misery, this trip was during the time of widespread flooding through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
Here it is 15 months after being laid off and I still don't have a job, despite having applied for over 400 in my career field and scores more for anything from retail to floor mopping. I've drained the severance package and dipped deep into a 401K.
I will not regret having taken that short photo trip. I'm glad it turned into what it did and that I was able to meet those people and witness the strife. I'm thinking that maybe it's time for me to go out again and perhaps relocate some of those families and individuals I had met. Maybe I'll even find a job.