The first in a three-part series on jobs and politics I’m working on
It was a year ago today, Friday April 3, 2009, that I walked into my office at ABC in Manhattan with my thermos of coffee. I had scored a victory for that day, earlier in the week my boss agreed to let me leave early because my cousin was in town and we hadn’t seen each other in about a year. In hindsight, I should have realized why I got that agreement so easily.
It was raining and it was chilly and the weather fit the mood when I walked through the door. Co-workers hugging, some crying, some just standing there with blank faces. I thought one of two things; Charlie Gibson died suddenly or it’s round three of layoffs everyone had been worried about for weeks.
I was right, and since Gibson’s still alive, you know what was I right about.
My boss didn’t even have to tell me I was one of the layoffs. I had already known. Before being called into the conference room to get the news, I had already begun packing my desk. The news didn’t come as a complete shock, but I was sorta taken by surprise by how heartless and unemotional they were…telling me “this is good, you can go hang out with your cousin now?”
Good? I just signed the lease on my new Williamsburg apartment three months earlier (thereby negating the arduous commute from Commack, Long Island that I was slogging through for two years prior). How was I going to pay my rent? my health insurance?
I had been laid off before, in 2006, the Daily News let me go as a freelance reporter, but I had just got my J.D. and was still working with PBS on legal affairs shows and doing some work for ABC. It was that November that ABC decided to hire me full time, which I got largely because the Daily News decided to cut me off…but now, for the first time, I had no other options. I had nowhere to turn. I was out of a job with no prospects, just a lonely apartment I could barely afford with a law degree hanging on the wall that seemed worthless. My teabagger friends took the opportunity to rub my nose in it, the classy bunch they are.
“I guess Obama’s stimulus didn’t help you,” quipped my Sarah Palin-loving PUMA neighbor back in Commack.
My mother tried to console me by telling me the story of how the bank she worked out laid her off in November, 1982, the last time we saw double-digit unemployment, when she was pregnant with my youngest sister Danielle. She had put in for maternity leave starting in January, as she had to wait one year after her last maternity leave, which ended when my older younger sister, Julie, was 3 months old in January, 1982. Instead of giving my mom maternity leave, the bank just laid her off. She contemplated suing, but what good what it do? The bank paid her salary for the six months she would’ve been on maternity leave and then she collected unemployment for a while. That lay off led to us eventually moving to London in 1985.
I spent the next seven months looking for a job and barely making by on the $285 a week I got in unemployment, and dealing with the humiliation of asking my little sister Julie, now a lawyer, for a loan, and a job if she could. She was more than happy to oblige…the money, not the job.
I took long walks through Manhattan, I flew to London to visit family, we up to Quebec to shoot things.
It was only a couple of weeks after my return from Quebec that the managing editor position at a local weekly newspaper came across my computer. I applied, now hopeful about getting it, but two days before Thanksgiving, I was hired. I had gotten the job myself, the old fashion way, responded to a job ad.
There were few words to describe the elation of getting this job…the fact that it was back to my print journalism roots, an easy commute, everything I love about working. I go to bed on Sunday nights not dredding Monday. I rarely look at the clock at work and more often than not, I am surprised by how fast the days go.
That’s why it was so heartwarming to see our economy had created 169,000 jobs over the last month. More people felt the elation and sheer joy of being told “I’d like to hire you” than the anger, fear and embarrassment of being told “we’re letting you go.”
On paper, the number of jobs means we have completely erased all jobs losses back 5 1/2 months. It’s the greatest job creation since before Lehman Brothers collapsed.
Yes I’m spinning, but as a Democrat, that’s what we need to be doing…spinning, winning the message war. Though looking at the very same groups who tell Democrats they need to do a better job with messaging, it’s not hard to see why Democrats aren’t taking their advice.
From commenters on Balloon Juice linking FireDogLake articles telling us the March numbers really suck, to Huffington Post giving us seven reasons why we need to feel horrible about the job report, from those on DailyKos saying that these numbers fall far behind the Clinton years (anyone who is expected 1997-esque job growth numbers right now needs to have their fucking head examined), it’s pretty clear a lot of liberals know exactly how to look a gift horse in the mouth.
When I got my job that I’ve been at for four months now, I did not complain it paid less, or that it required a longer (though still easy) commute and one by car. Instead I took the opportunity to be satisfied that things were looking up in my life. This will change the meme. I have a job, a stable one.
This jobs report changes the meme…when Republicans mock Democrats, asking “Where are the jobs?” We can say “here they are jackasses” You would think the President’s self-appointed “base” would see that and push the message in their direction, but instead they seemingly enjoy to give the GOP ammo and then complain the GOP is winning the message war.
162,000 more people are working this month than last month. 162,000 more people got that feeling I got two days before Thanksgiving last year.
I can’t understand why so many on the left can’t seem to relish it