Before she went to bed Ruth turned off her clock radio. Tomorrow would bring Thanksgiving and with it a four day weekend. As she turned the alarm off she couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take her to find a new job after Transcor permanently made her persona non grata. Part of the severance package she’d been offered was a stipulation that she never again work for Transcor or any of its affiliates. “Here’s your hat, here’s your coat, what’s your hurry?” she said to herself as she climbed into bed next to Phil. “Almost thirty years and they throw me on Mount Trashmore.”
Determined not to fret about their situation she lay in the dark listening to Phil snore and wondered how tight their finances would get and what they would do if she still didn’t have a job once the severance was used up. “Guess I can always dip into the 401k if I have to. Expensive though.”
Their house was far from new and even though fall had been fairly mild the big snow storm that hit a week ago reminded her of how much she hated winter. With a forecast of heavy rain for Thanksgiving she hoped that their wouldn’t be any flooding. “At least it’s not snow,” she said, snuggling closer to Phil for warmth and pulling a pillow over her head to muffle the sounds of his heavy breathing.
The clock read 6:13 when she woke up to use the bathroom. She remembered seeing the harsh red LED glare of numbers that started with eleven, twelve and two o’clock staring at her in the night and wondered if she had truly been awake that entire time or if she had slept fitfully and simply opened her eyes, seen the clock and feeling the weight of depression and fatigue convinced herself that she had not fallen asleep until well into the wee hours. In either case her heart was not full of thankfulness.
Resentfully awake she looked at her sleeping husband, shook her head, slipped into a heavy robe and slippers and after attending to the call that awakened her stopped at the kitchen and turned the oven to 325 degrees. She had stuffed the twenty three pound bird the night before and after clearing a shelf in the refrigerator left it there for safekeeping. As she began getting out the large roasting pan and rack she was careful to be quiet and then realized that Phil had gone to bed before she had, slept soundly all night and was still asleep. “Want to get anything done around here got to do it myself,” she said, not quite slamming the pan down, hoisting the bird on top of the rack, thrusting the thermometer deep into the breast and after placing it in the oven setting the stove timer to five hours.
Desperately desiring sleep Ruth vacillated between brewing coffee and heading back to bed where she hoped she might squeeze out some additional shut eye. Unable to make a strong decision either way she lay down on the worn couch that sat in front of the TV, draped a heavy comforter over herself and after moving her hip to avoid the errant spring that poked and prodded her stared out from the dark room into the falling rain that fell in dreary sheets on the house, street and street lights outside while simultaneously driving her deeper into her funk inside. “Into every life a little rain must fall,” she mused, pulling the quilt closer to her chin.
Even under the heavy blanket she was cold lying alone on the couch and try as she might to turn her churning mind off and sleep her brain went where it would. She tried to focus on good times that her family had known in the past and settled on an image of their son in fifth grade. She and Phil had accompanied Kyle on a school ski outing to Sundown Mountain in Dubuque. Phil and Kyle had gone skiing there together a few times as part of a Grilcar outing and when Phil learned that there was a need for chaperons and saw how inexpensive the trip was he’d decided they should go as a family.
The fifth graders, their teachers and almost two dozen parents arrived at school early, loaded into buses and made their way toward their destination. Watching Kyle and Phil ski together had been fun but she wasn’t on the slopes very long before she realized that even though she had on more clothes than most everyone else that she seemed to get cold easier than those around her. “Skiing is okay,” she mumbled to herself, “but it sure would be better if it didn’t require snow.”
The cold house and uncertain future morphed the pleasant memory into an internal recitation on how many ways she hated winter. Over the years she and Phil had talked about getting a little condo down south and being “snowbirds” but when she’d asked about working at Transcor’s Tampa office either full or part time her supervisor had simply said that as the major liaison for human resources’ Work Habits that her job was tied to the main campus in Cedar Rapids. Not wanting to rock the boat Ruth had let the matter drop and figured that once they retired they’d be able to get that vacation home near the beach. Now that both her and Phil had been swept out of their jobs that rather optimistic dream now seemed more like a pipe dream than a life plan.
The cold made the pleasant daydream just another irritant and giving up on sleep Ruth decided that coffee was in order. She started a pot of coffee, turned her computer on and checked Facebook while the coffee brewed. She wondered why her news feed always reverted back from “most recent” to “top stories” but at seven in the morning on Thanksgiving there wasn’t a lot that was new from last night.
The coffee pot stopped spitting and hissing, indicating that it was done, so she got up from the computer, poured a cup and sitting back down looked at her email account. Among the new emails were six messages from LinkedIn and she wondered who from Transcor figured that now was a good time to cast a wider network of associates. “Kinda’ late for that now, not that it’ll hurt anything,” she said, clicking on the top, and therefor most recent message.
Expecting to see a request confirming that she knew someone she was surprised when she encountered an employment agency offering their services. “Ha. That didn’t take long. News isn’t even out yet and they’re already knocking on my door.”
Of the six LinkedIn related emails four were from different head hunters. Ruth had never used a head hunter before and wondered how much they charged. Her first thought was to ignore them but then she realized that maybe her misfortune was an opportunity.
With neither her nor Phil gainfully employed this could be the time to find a job someplace far warmer and sunnier than a town 150 miles west of Chicago. She looked at each email trying to discern what she could concerning the ins and outs of using an employment agency. One thing seemed certain, she didn’t have anything to lose by responding to the inquiries. “Who knows,” she whispered, “maybe soon I really will be able to feel thankful.”