Immediately after a 12-hour overnight shift, my wife drives to a state agency to discuss possible health-care coverage for our family while I'm out of work. She's told that her income is too high to receive any state assistance — and that we should look into the COBRA plan. Although the COBRA plan offers reduced rates, we need to make an immediate retroactive payment covering the months we were uninsured. Since this totals nearly $2000, we cannot afford it. My wife and I fall victim to the middle-class dilemma of being too rich and too poor simultaneously.
Saturday, March 28
During my morning walk, I'm suddenly overwhelmed with thoughts of our older daughter: Is she happy? Is she prepared enough for adulthood? Does she hate me for admitting her to a substance-abuse program against her will? Idle time has allowed sorrow and remorse to settle in the fore of my consciousness.
Thursday, April 2
My wife confronts me about my lack of showing any outward affection toward her. Thus, the battle lines between the sexes are drawn. I say the combination of financial anxiety and constant stress over our future limits my ability to be affectionate. She counters that this is the perfect opportunity for spouses to increase communication with each other — eventually leading to more affection. I can't process this right now, yet my wife makes it clear to me that our daughter even senses my "coldness" toward her.
Monday, April 13
Shortly after forwarding my resume to a promising online job ad, my phone rings. I'm asked if I can be at their office by 7 pm that evening. "For an interview?" I ask. Not quite. It's a service company that hides its identity within job ads and waits for people like me to respond. I'm told that for $185 I'll get an advance look at a list of prospective employers long before the general public can. "No guarantee of employment, though," they warn. I wonder how many desperate people have gambled away $185 for a no-guarantee job search.
Wednesday, June 3
I'm disgusted that after three months of job hunting I actually have to attend a state-mandated unemployment seminar. I look straight ahead as I enter the building to avoid making eye contact with anybody else. I even skip a couple of chairs before sitting down to fill out paperwork, discouraging any possibility of conversation. After a brief wait, I'm led into a conference room with 20 other people. I choose a table in the back where one man is seated already. As I'm settling in my seat, he launches into his "elevator speech" that I have no interest in listening to. After two more hellish hours of instruction, I'm set free.
Tuesday, June 9
At times, it feels like I underwent a sex change without the expensive surgery. My daily schedule is mostly centered around mealtimes: what to buy, to prepare, when to start cooking, and who'll be home for supper. I've responded to two more job ads for a local facility (totaling six), plus updated my resume by changing my objective statement from a boilerplate yawner to four kick-ass sentences that should grab any HR person's attention.