I lost my job in late 1994. We were living in Dayton, Ohio and I was working at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The contract I was working under was coming to an end. Cancelled by the Washington bureaucrats. Our financial setup was such that I didn’t have to scramble for another job. My unemployment benfits would cover all our living expenses – mortgage, utilities, food and other costs. I also had other investments that were bringing in money. I invested $10,000 in a start-up computer store that was paying me a percentage of the turnover. This income made the transition period between jobs a lot less stressfull financially.
I was 34 at the time. My wife Marieta and I had one daughter and we were to find out shortly after losing my job, another daughter on the way. Things were going to get exciting but I’ll tell that story later.
This short article captures the phone conversation with my parents as I tell them I no longer have a job.
Now for the story …
The phone rang. It was my mother.
“Oh, yeah Mom, we’re all fine. Doing great.” I stated matter of factly.
“And how are you and Dad? Enjoying life with all the kids gone?” I quickly threw back the conversation.
Mom responded by the book, “We’re fine too. Nothing much new here.”
Then a pause and finally out came the question she seems to always ask, “Oh yeah Dave, how’s everything with your job?
I mentioned months ago that my position was going away. The government program I was working on was losing its funding. My program was going against a big giant well funded high profile program. The story goes that a senator asked a simple question that killed our program. He said, “So, if we have this new standoff air-to-air missile system why do we need the F-22 fighter aircraft?” Good question Mr Senator, we’ll cancel the new missile system straight away!
I’d been looking for a new position but nothing was coming up. It was back in the early 1990s when engineering jobs were a bit thin. I was looking but Iwasn’t too anxious about it; if I found a job great, if not, we’d figure out a way to make it.
I answered my Mother’s question rather quickly, saying, “What job?”
“What do you mean ‘What Job’ David?” she replied in a ‘don’t joke with me fashion’.
“Mom, I told you before my job was going away. Well it went away about 2 weeks ago. I don’t have a job.”
I heard the phone on the other end drop. It was dangling by the chord. Then I heard my Dad’s voice, “What’s this about you not having a job?”
“Dad, it’s no big deal. They ran out of funding and I’m out of work. I’m not the first guy to get laid off from a job.”
“How come you didn’t tell me?” he growled.
“Dad, why would I want to tell you I lost my job? That’s not exciting news. I did tell you before the funding was going away. I figured that covered it. We’re fine Dad. Don’t worry.” I tried to convince him it’s no big deal.
My Dad switched gears from anger and dismay to sympathy, “You need some money?”
I have to admit, I really liked hearing him say that. We didn’t need any money, but what a feeling to know my Dad was right there if I needed him. That’s powerful stuff to know your Mom and Dad are there for you. I never wanted to take that for granted so I would only accept money if absolutely necessary. But, man is it great to know you’ve got family like that ready to help.
“Dad, we’re fine. If I needed money you’d be the first one I’d call.” I said with confidence. And I meant it. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask my Dad for money. But, I didn’t need any and it would have been irresponsible of me to accept money when I didn’t need it. Remember the story about the boy who cried wolf? I would only cry wolf when it’s for real.
What’s wrong with you son?
My Dad could not understand my calmness about losing my job. He also couldn’t understand how I could possibly survive financially without a steady income from a job.
This simple interchange with my father was one of the crowning moments of my financial life because I recognized I was in the process of developing the correct attitude and mindset for breaking away from the chains of the JOB (just over broke) condition.
I was not wealthy. I didn’t have a large savings account. But, my family and I were able to cruise through my short lived unemployment situation without missing a step.
I was proud of this accomplishment. And, I was looking forward to the day when I would take it to the next level and respond to a job layoff notice by saying, “Great, I’ll have more time to devote to my own business interests.” Or, maybe, “I’ve been waiting for an excuse to tackle a particular business venture full time. Thanks for giving me the push I needed.”