“If you are going through hell, keep going.” — Winston Churchill

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for the past 489 days.  One year and four months; 42,249,600 seconds; 704,160 minutes; 11,736 hours; 69 weeks (rounded down).  Give or take a few.

English: Programmer
English: Programmer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was one year and four months ago today that I was laid off from my last computer programming job.  How ironic is it, then, that I was officially offered another permanent, full-time job as a computer programmer this morning, 489 days later?  One year and four months later … to the day?

It goes without saying that I accepted the offer.

It’s a good, secure job that should last as long as I’m doing it well … and I’m going to do it well.  It has nothing at all to do with a corporation looking to ship jobs overseas to improve its bottom line, nothing at all to do with a venture capital company looking to make millions more than they already are and laying off people like so many faceless numbers in the process while they’re suddenly left to wonder what’s going to happen to them and their families in the days, weeks, perhaps years to come.

A Utah Transit Authority Trax light rail vehic...
A Utah Transit Authority Trax light rail vehicle traveling south on the green line in downtown Salt Lake City. The LRV is a Siemens S70. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a job that’s much closer to home than my last programming job, which involved a two-hour round trip with some of the most harrowing freeway driving in Utah on a daily basis.  I could hop on a TRAX train nearby and get to and from work once a sparkling new station is opened just a couple of blocks from my new office.  It would take one transfer each way — from a Red Line to a Green Line, Green Line to Red Line.

The job starts March 13.  I can’t wait to get started.  I’ve given two weeks’ notice at the customer service job I was in training for since mid-January, said farewell to some good people there.  Once I’m done taking a drug test and taking care of some new hire paperwork on Friday, I can start to relax even more — kind of like a much-needed vacation for the next week and a half.

I’ll be taking some time learning how to breathe again. For the first time in 489 days, my whole family can really start feeling like it can breathe again.

In that time, I’ll also be reflecting a bit on what we’ve been through for the past 489 days …

Cutting expenses to the bone without giving up the things that would break our hearts …

Having to shop for a majority of the groceries at Wal-Mart in order to make our dollars stretch more, knowing that we’re supporting a piss-poor business model, ethically speaking, in the process …

Having to go to one more dental appointment with the entire family before benefits run out completely, having the dentist tell me I’ll need a root canal at some point in the next year, wondering if that will be possible in the next year, and here it is well over a year later and I’m still dealing with the effects of a bad tooth while getting in the habit of doing a majority of my chewing on the left side of my mouth to avoid the pain …

Wondering how much longer we’re going to be able to stay in our home …

Losing sleep …

Going out to a Salt Lake City park in the dead of winter to help the homeless, and wondering if it could be us out there in the cold at some point in the future …

I know what it’s like to live out of a car for a night.  It’s an experience I didn’t want my family to go through.  It came down to determination …

Having that first jobless Christmas turn into one of the best we’ve ever had, thanks to the generosity of friends and relatives …

Having that second jobless Christmas turn into one of the best we’ve ever had, thanks to the generosity of friends and relatives …

Wiping out retirement savings just to survive for another few months …

Living off of tax refund money, and when that’s depleted …

Wondering how much longer we’re going to be able to stay in our home …

Losing sleep …

Getting really tired of having people think that those who collect unemployment genuinely enjoy that “lifestyle” and that they’re not determined enough to get off the unemployment line …

Searching relentlessly, all across the country, for any programming job that fits my skill set … applying like crazy … usually hearing nothing … getting phone calls from recruiters that sound promising at first … then, usually hearing nothing … interviewing … nothing …

Dealing with collection agencies …

Making payments out of our own pocket on major medical bills, $10 at a time …

Knowing our once-sparkling credit rating is starting to erode …

Having good friends and loving relatives pitch in to help us financially, because they’ve felt that God wants them to do it …

Wondering how we could ever repay good friends and loving relatives pitching in to help us financially, because they’ve felt that God wants them to do it …

Avoiding food stamps …

Avoiding Medicaid …

Avoiding bankruptcy …

One step at a time … one hour at a time … one day at a time … one week at a time … one month at a time …

Comforting each other … reassuring each other … telling each other to “hang in there” … putting horses up for sale, with no takers, and wondering if they might actually be “part of the plan” …

Holding on for dear life …

Holding on to faith …

Holding on to hope …

One step at a time … one hour at a time … one day at a time … one week at a time … one month at a time …

Holding on …

Taking a car sales job, selling a brand new vehicle on my first day of selling, yet realizing it’s a job that isn’t going to be the answer to our problems, quickly giving me an ulcer and driving me toward a breakdown … taking a TRAX train back home on my last day doing car sales, and at one stop along the way seeing a metal sculpture of Jesus Christ with a crown of thorns on his head being blown by the wind outside to point directly at me … perhaps realizing then that I was “on the right track” …

Getting back on unemployment, but it paid better than car sales …

Holding on …

Having a Thanksgiving meal with the immediate family at home, making the most of it on a skin-tight budget …

Wondering how much longer we’re going to be able to stay in our home …

Losing sleep …

Going out to a Salt Lake City park in the dead of winter to help the homeless, and wondering if it could be us out there in the cold at some point in the future …

Knowing that possibility is getting closer by the day …

Losing sleep …

Crying our eyes out …

Holding on …

Finally, a job interview in December, for a dream job, a secure job, and handling the interview pretty well despite some intense nervousness, knowing that my family’s future is riding on it … the pressure …

Not getting that job … yet … staying in contact with the manager, thanking him for the opportunity to be interviewed, expressing interest in any future openings …

Interviewing for a customer service job at a job fair as Christmas approaches, going through skills assessments, being offered a job all in the same go-round in the same afternoon …

Being the “old man” in the crowd when the job starts in mid-January, knowing I’m old enough to be the master trainer’s father, surprising him with my willingness, enthusiasm, and work ethic to do my best at a customer service job that pays less than unemployment with a bit of stress involved …

Praying for miracles when it becomes obvious that this is a job, but it’s still not the answer to my family’s survival …

Wondering how much longer we’re going to be able to stay in our home …

Losing sleep …

Going out to a Salt Lake City park in the dead of winter to help the homeless, and wondering if it could be us out there in the cold at some point in the future …

Knowing that possibility is getting closer by the day …

Making one more (late) interest-only house payment to keep a roof over our heads for another month, seeing what’s left in our bank account before the house payment even goes through and what still needs to be paid for with so little money and so much time before the next paycheck, experiencing that feeling of terror …

Losing sleep …

Leaving the house last Monday morning, knowing the dire situation we’re facing as I get ready to go off to work for the day, and before going out the door advising my lovely wife to say a special prayer that a job similar to the dream one in December is opened to me in some way, asking our heavenly father to open up the hearts and minds of those who are in a position to hold my family’s future in their hands, giving me a chance, giving us a chance to survive …

The miracle kicked in about five hours later with a phone call from the hiring manager of that dream job from December, the one I’d followed up with despite being denied a job earlier.  He expressed sincere interest in me, asked me about salary requirements so he could nail down a possible job offer …

Around that same time, I had a voice message from our church secretary letting me know there was an envelope with my name on it waiting for me at her office.  Inside the envelope was a gift that would help us to survive for a while, even without a job or unemployment payments …

Miracles do happen … prayer pays off … daily “conversations” with a Supreme Being are answered …

I was driving around this morning around 8:30 after dropping our daughter off at school, on my way to a store to pick up a few groceries, listening to K-Love on the radio and having that usual “conversation.”  The announcer gave the scripture for the day, one that my family has lived by for weeks … months …

Worry about nothing; pray about everything.  — Philippians 4:6

So I prayed, in that “conversational way,” just like I’d done through all those hours, days, weeks, months, over a span of 489 days … one year and four months after losing my last secure job … one year and four months, right down to the day …

Then, the call came on my cell phone.  The caller ID showed that it was the hiring manager from my “dream job.”  He was letting me know that he’d just sent me an email with an official job offer.

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
A.A. Milne, “Winnie-the-Pooh”

“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.”
Lemony Snicket, “Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid”

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
Maya Angelou

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting rather late on this Thursday evening and it’s been a rather exciting day.  Yet, before I can go to sleep, I have forms to print and fill out so I can return them to my next employers and get this ball rolling.

I’ve got a job to do.

Never give up.  Never ever give up.

7 thoughts on “One blog post that’s been 489 days in the making

  1. There were times when it felt that me we couldn’t hold on or things got so desperate for me. I would spill out my heart to John and God but at those times there seemed to be a dove out side our window everytime. On the Saturday before John was offered the job Alicia and I noticed three doves outside our window in the big tree. The doves in the Bible represent the Holy Spirit being an ever present help in our lives. He would never leave us. He never did.

  2. Congratulations John…. I am very excited and happy for you and yours… I can’t imagine the worry/stress you must have had over the past year but I could certainly felt it through your posts and updates. I am a big believer that all we experience is for some reason and the task is to discover that reason and use it in some way for the betterment of all we come across. I think you have shown that with your attitude, faith and hope. I wish you the best with this new path and direction. You are an inspiration to perseverance to all who face a struggle. You are a great witness and example to the power of a strong faith even when things seemed lost. Once again congratulations!

    1. Thanks so much, my friend. I think you nailed a lot of what we need to get out of an experience like this. There’s an odd feeling going through us right now — kind of a combination of relief and happiness, but it’s still mixed in with the remnants of the stress we’ve felt along the way too. I guess that’s something you can’t just “turn off,” it might take some time to fully recover. All part of getting our lives back in order, I suppose.

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