A few years ago, my job was thrown into an upheaval. The director of the company decided it was time for him to retire (he was actually pushed out by the board) and the company began shopping around for someone to replace him.
It was a time when I had no idea if I would have a job from one day to the next, simply because the job I do can realistically be replaced by a relatively inexpensive computer program or the tasks assigned to me could essentially be reassigned to a full time person with the stroke of a pen.
The reason I’m writing this post today, though, two years later, is I just got the word that the individual that had ultimately been given the job as director, well, he died yesterday. Now I didn’t know the man very well, I’ve really only spoke with him two times face to face (I work in the office during off hours and rarely see other employees), and only a half dozen times via email. Of course, its a tragedy when anyone dies, though he was rather ill so it might not be that much of a tragedy if he was suffering. But, I can’t help but find myself back there again, wondering, a little more anxious than I really care to be, about my own job prospects on the near horizon.
So, let’s jump in and see what calculous I’m looking at, how I will fair if I am let go in the future, and what’s next for me in this godforsaken world…
My Situation is Vastly Better Today
The first thing to mention is my personal situation is vastly different (and far better) than a few years ago when I was grappling with job insecurity. Back then I had maybe $1000 to my name, I think about $4000 in credit card debt, and a car payment as well.
Today, though, I have my car long paid off, my credit cards are all paid (I only have one existing card that I pay off each month that I use as a buffer to dispute online charges – I’ve only had to do it once and it worked exceptionally well), and by the end of April I should have just about 2 years of cash in immediate savings. This makes a tremendous difference in my calculous if the worst case scenario occurred and I was cut from the roster by a new director.
I own my house outright (no mortgage), as well as the Eden property. I am paid up on my property taxes and actually received a refund on my income taxes for the first time in probably 10 years. I have no debts, no real vices (except for junk food), and no real attachments to this area or to any other person (save for my attachment to the Eden property). So, this entire situation that I find myself in is actually a little exhilarating if I think about it. I certainly could be in a much worse situation when losing a job (that is not necessarily lost yet, either).
Just How Big of a Risk is This?
So, the last time this happened, I was certain that I would lose my job within 1-2 months of the new director taking over. My calculus remains the same this time around, though I don’t know why. When the new director actually took over, I was received quite well by him. He seemed very interested in my personal situation, and seemed very interested in bending over backwards to keep me on with the company. Fast forward to the COVID fiasco, and I was certain then, too, I would get axed. We had a vaccine requirement that I was not at all interested in participating in (I’ve never gotten any kind of vaccine since leaving my parents’ home – I’m sorry, I just don’t trust the government, I mean at all – read through the blog and you’ll see why). But, when I submitted my religious exemption request, it was received with open arms. The director bent over backwards to work with me on putting together an alternative. He never once made any negative comment about my religious convictions, and it’s actually benefited my personal preferences and personality.
Another thing in my favor is the other employees at the company really want me to continue to work there. The job I do has to be done, and, yet, no one really wants to do it. When I went to part time, the first director insisted that I teach my supervisor what I did. After two months of him coming in every Saturday, and leaving frustrated because he couldn’t get it, I finally suggested that with the new director coming in we could just skip this “cross-training.” He took me up on it and I went back to doing my job the way I like to do it (alone).
If I were to be let go that would mean my tasks would have to be delegated to either the operations manager (who trained me) or to my direct supervisor (who has no idea how to do the work and also has her own work to do).
The apprehension comes from what I would do if I were the director. I would reconsolidate the department into two full time people, M-F. I would let the weekend staff take care of their own phone calls and make the two remaining workers ubiquitous (being able to do each others jobs perfectly).
But, I am not a manager or a director. I do not cost the company health insurance. I do not cost them vacation time (except for what I already have saved, which I really never use). I never call out sick, never cause issue with the weekend staff, and I’m habitually consistent with my output (I was actually hired not because I had experience or the required degree, but because I passed the computer test with flying colors. There seems to be a bizarre deficit in the workforce on how a spreadsheet works – go figure).
In the end, it is quite possible whoever they find will do just as the last director did. There were a few changes administratively, but no one was let go (several people did quit over the last few years and were simply not replaced). If my job changed at all, it only got better, and I ended up working on my own, with literally no supervision.
But What If….?
There is a chance, though, that the new director that ultimately comes in will want to make some hands-on changes and there is a good possibility that I could end up without a job. So, with that in mind, I thought it prudent to explore the idea that, if I were let go tomorrow, what are my options, desires, and steps in the immediate aftermath?
What I Would Do
I certainly can’t be fired for poor performance. My last review I received not only a raise, but I also had one of the best comments form both my direct supervisor and director. So, letting me go will ultimately have to rest on a reorganization of the workforce, which, as I’ve already outlined, would be definitely reasonable. So, what would I do if that happened?
1. I would fight the temptation to go on some kind of vacation. It simply makes no sense to do this, wastes money, I would not have a good time anyway, and I would end up doing the same thing wherever I went that I would do if I were at home. I might go spend a week at the Eden property, or I might just hang out at home. But I would definitely give myself a week of doing nothing but watching tv, relaxing, and just putting space between me and the termination.
2. I would then need to revisit my goals, plans, aspirations, dreams, and current direction. Being let go is usually not a net benefit, but I have to say, after being in this job for over 6 years, it has definitely grown a bit stale. I’ve kept my eye on new jobs in different places around the country, but I’ve applied to only two or three, simply because the opportunity cost is too great leaving what I already have. I would really like to get into remote work, but there appears to be a backlash against that at the moment, so I don’t imagine that would work out too well. But, it could. It just depends on when or if opportunity would strike.
3. Once I’ve decompressed, then looked over my own goals and aspirations (large, lifelong goals), I would want to take a fresh look at the globe and see what geography really inspired me. Several years ago I accepted the task of moving a relative across the country because it would put me in the situation where I could criss cross the country with little to no out of pocket costs, and I could see what was out there. At the time I had some money saved up and I was looking to put down some roots and buy a house to fix up. I found a few places that were quite interesting, but wherever I went in the country, there were natural disasters or severe weather to contend with. This trip ultimately led me back to this little coastal area that I live in now that is nearly a perfect paradise. I bought a house, bought recreational property and was certain I would spend the rest of my life here.
Fast forward a few years, and I ended up taking another vacation with a family member to Hawaii and that trip (the trip itself was actually pretty terrible) led me to thinking about Hawaii and the possibility of relocating there. I actually have a job posting alert for all the jobs I qualify for in Hawaii. A few have been quite interesting, to say the least. Part of me would love the idea of selling both properties, packing my backpack, and buying a one way ticket to Honolulu, and just start fresh. Maybe even reinvent myself in the process. I “theoretically” have VA insurance that would travel with me, plus any full time job I was accepted would have insurance (maybe). Imagine a part-time job working just a few days a week, yet making enough to afford a room with a shower and maybe a view (or maybe a spot on their deck large enough for my hammock and a Planet Fitness membership for showers), living in perpetual sunshine on the cheap, using public transportation to get to and from work, watching sunsets and sunrises, getting a kayak (or working out a deal with a rental company to use theirs for a flat rate or some kind of trade) and paddle out into the surf every morning before work. Hike, relax and read, enjoy good food, immerse myself in island life, and maybe, if God were merciful, find a woman to settle down with someone somewhere out in the jungle. One job I was looking at paid only a few dollars more an hour than my current job (and was full time – teacher). Another job was a full time administrator position and paid $65,000 a year. With that kind of work, even for just a few years, I could afford to buy a small tract of land somewhere on the island and homestead it. There might even be a possibility of leasing someone’s property (to keep my nest egg from depleting). There is also other places I’ve considered moving to. Louisiana, Miami (or anywhere in Florida), Texas, but then again, that gets into that bad weather territory.
4. The next task would be to put together a job hunting project. Simultaneously, I would start a deep clean and organization of the house I own with the intention of putting it up for sale as soon as possible. If I sold the house for even $40,000, that would be enough money to last me 11 years if I moved to the Eden property full time. I would not have the extra stresses associated with having a job and living at Eden, so I would not need to purchase a motor boat, and could just enjoy my first 2 years (depending on how long it took for my house to sell), then lean into my 11 year buffer that the house sell secured. During that 13 years, I would take about $5,000 from that nest egg to develop the Eden property with the ultimate goal of building another hermitage on the lot behind the tracks, dividing the two lots so the dock property could be sold off and I would move to the lot behind the tracks. This would bring in another $40,000 if not more, giving me another 11 years of “retirement.” So, if I lost my job tomorrow, and it took 3 months to sell my house, I would effectively be able to retire, not worry about gainful employment at all, and let the money carry me until 62 when I would “theoretically” qualify for social security. This would be approximately $800 / month, or about $600 if you believe the 25% reduction is coming as predicted. I have 15 years from today to 62. This means my 80,000 could either last me until I was 69 or if I were a gambling man, I could spread it equally over those 15 years which comes to a little over $400 / month (my estimated expenses at Eden are between $250 and $300 / month and that’s still keeping my car but does not include the increased expenses of the tracks property for right-of-way and additional dock fees to the railroad company – it does include what was subtracted to develop the lake properties).
Really the sky is the limit on what I could do from there. I could spend my days writing and reading down on the dock, hiking in the surrounding hills, fish, hike the trail to the beach when I go once a week to the grocery store in town. My tracks lot is south facing so it should produce an abundance of food, plus that exposure should keep my hermitage warm even in the winter months with southern facing windows.
The God Factor
Of course, there is also the God factor. Not just in what I want, but what he wants for me. It’s possible this will prove to be just a blip on the screen of my life, and the company I work at will get a new director and life will go on as usual and I won’t have to make any decisions at least not immediately. He might want me to move to Hawaii at some point in the future, or he might want me to take a job in Texas, or maybe develop the Eden properties while still working part-time (which I’m really okay with). He might be preparing me for a future wife and in 5 years I could have liquidated everything I own and be in a new house in a different part of the country, maybe even with kids in toe (yikes)! It is his plan, after all. After all, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). He planned everything I would ever do before I even existed (Ps 139:16). It is my job to simply walk in them (Eph 2:10).
In the end, it’s most probable that I’m freaking out for no reason. The director passed away. I feel for his family he left behind. But, it is quite possible this will end up the same way it did the last time our director retired and left his position. Nothing really changed at all. Fingers crossed, right?
Until my next post….
Please consider supporting my writing, my unschooled studies, and my hermitic lifestyle by purchasing one or more of my books. I’m not supported by academia or have a lucrative corporate job – I’m just a mystical modern-day hermit trying to live out the life I believe God has called me to. So, any support you choose to provide is GREATLY appreciated.
Excerpt from In the Meadow:
A second later, the engine roared to life, and Dawn glanced back, one last time, at the trailer she’d grown up in.
The empty yard.
The trail she’d blazed through the blackberries.
That gaunt looking trailer.
Everything she saw now looked so dirty and run down, almost a shambles.
It was like a dream.
Paul circled wide, then threw the truck in reverse and backed up. As he braked and put it back into drive, Dawn could see Harold’s place a few slips down.
Paul gave the truck some gas.
As they went by, she could see Harold standing outside, near his front door, motionless, watching them.
She didn’t mention the earlier conversation to Paul.
Why would she?
He was just a creepy ass guy, and one of the handful of things she didn’t have to deal with anymore.
They drove out the front gate of the trailer park, down the side street to the corner, Paul stopping for a moment as he waited on the traffic to clear.
He took her hand and smiled at her, then pulled out onto the highway, heading west.
They drove past the Ray’s Grocery Store, past the gas station, where Bart was out front, talking excitedly to the Desmond boy.
Paul kissed her hand and she smiled, laying her head back against the headrest.
There was nothing else standing in her way now.
As Dawn began to relax, she watched as her old life quickly dissipate into vapor in their wake.
For the first time in her life, she was leaving Oakridge. She was moving to an entirely different state, a new home, with the man of her dreams.
She’d never even been out of Oregon before.
“Now or never,” Paul said, as they drove past the trailhead sign, on the right.
Dawn tightened her grip on his hand.
She’d finally gotten her wish.
She was leaving Oakridge.
Buy my book In the Meadow to find out what Dawn will do as her perfect fairytale life begins to unravel. Are the girls calling out from the banks of the Skagit River trying to help her? Do they want to hurt her? What secrets will she find?
But, trust me when I say, this is going to be a roller coaster of a ride. People are dying all around her, and you have no idea what evil lurks in the meadow! Get started in this thriller story today and find out why they’re warning her…calling out to her….trying to tell her…to RUN!