Sunday, May 29, 2011

BUS STORY # 238 (He Said)

Hearts On Fire , originally uploaded by busboy4.

They’ve been married 20 years, my co-rider explains, but things started going south when he lost his job.

He was making $50,000 a year, not enough to buy a home, but enough to raise a son and fully fund a 401k and an IRA. His wife was a stay-at-home mom, even when their son was in high school.

When he lost his job, he went down to the VA for help. But he felt they weren’t very adept at matching his skill set with prospective employers. Meanwhile, his wife continued to spend as she always had. In time, they began burning through his retirement savings. They had their first fights over money.

A few months later, still unemployed, doing his own job searches alongside the VA effort, he suggested she might look for work herself. She didn’t think it was worth the effort for minimum wage. He thought minimum wage would be better than nothing. The relationship cooled off considerably after that exchange.

One day, he cleaned up the kitchen and the living room. That made her angry. She took it as a criticism of her housekeeping skills. He suggested as much when he explained he only did it because it needed doing.

Then she started getting upset when he did the laundry, even though he’d been doing the laundry even before losing his job. He said he’s never minded doing the laundry.

One day, he went to another VA referral. The prospective employer told him he didn’t have a job for him, but given his experience, he knew exactly who he needed to go see. He made the call, set up the appointment. My co-rider went for the appointment and was hired on the spot.

The timing couldn’t have been better; his savings were exhausted. It didn’t pay the $50K he’d earned before at his old job, but it was enough to pay the rent, buy the groceries, take care of school and household expenses. But, he explained to his wife, not enough to continue the allowance he’d always provided.

His wife got a job. He’s pretty sure that was a "tipping point."

He’s also taken to working an extra half-day every weekend. He gets overtime, but the real reward is getting out of the house. He cranks the radio, busies himself for a few hours with stuff he can’t get done during the week when other people are around.

Afterwards, he does the laundry, away from home. He does the laundry away from home because she doesn’t want him tying up the washer and dryer when she needs it. But she never seems to get around to his laundry in a timely manner.

He doesn’t mind. Keeps him out of the house a little longer. Besides, he’s never minded doing the laundry.


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