As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day. Yesterday’s prompt was to write about fear, and it’s taking me more than one day.
The feeling when I got back from two years of teaching in Hungary was similar to the feeling I had after college. Okay, I’ve just spent years of my life at something, now what? I was thankful when I finally got a job as a substitute teacher, but the pay was not so good and we had to go on food stamps for the first time ever. I did the best I could to feed the family, but we put our condominium up for sale and planned to move to Southern California where I would try full time teaching.
Then in the summer of 1999 my daughter was diagnosed with cancer. I worked off and on as I could, and spent a lot of time at the hospital too. We sold our condo at a loss and moved to SoCal where we lived with my parents.
I spent the longest time of my life with no job then, from the fall of 1999 to the late spring of 2000. When my daughter went into remission I got a job working at a boy’s home, eventually teaching at its school. But the dark times grew worse.
My daughter died in the fall of 2002 and I lost my job a few months later. I franticly searched for work, mostly other teaching jobs, and finally got a job working as a land surveyor. This job was the best paying job I ever held. It was physically taxing and took a lot of hours from my days.
During that time, we got notice that the house had been renting for 6 years was being sold. In a bit of a panic, we bought a mobile home and moved into that. Never having it inspected, we were shocked when the first heavy rains came cascading down the inside of a wall. Financing through acquaintances, the monthly payments were almost twice what we thought they would be. But it was okay, I was making good money.
Less than a year later I lost my construction job. I had held it for just under four years, a record then. But the national economy, along with the fact that I wasn’t making an effort to learn the trade, had me as one of the first to go from the company. I spent as many months unemployed as before, but this time not taking care of a sick child. My wife got a job while I collected unemployment and looked for anything that might pay well enough to feed us.
I finally got a job as a custodian at a church. It wasn’t the church I went to, but it was a job and the work was full time. I struggled with life issues for the first year. Getting suspended for my attitude was a wake-up call and I finally got help for myself. I settled into the job and felt secure.
But all along I had the feeling that I’d had on most jobs. Is this it? Will I be here for the rest of my life? I may have wanted to hold my job at the radio station forever, but that was when I had nothing else really in my life. I may have wanted to teach at the school at the boy’s home. I was even trying to get my credentials as a teacher. But most jobs never captivated me and never gave me a sense of permanence.
Then four years ago things changed. I was helping my kids with school one morning when I got a call.