Jack loses his job
Jack Gilmore was an accountant. He was in his early 30s, with a family, a mortgage, and a pretty normal middle income, middle class, life.
He'd never been unemployed since he was a teenager, doing a part time job at the local fast food franchise. It was a shock, and he didn't know what to do about it, apart from register for unemployment insurance and try to sort out the finances.
It also happened at a very inconvenient time. His daughter was about to start school, and the costs, even with a job, were already a problem for the family budget.
Jack wasn't the only person to lose a job, but that hardly helped, because it meant more competition. Being an unemployed accountant is a nasty experience, because there are a lot of applications for accountancy jobs.
Being an accountant didn't help him much with his own finances, either. He'd lost a bit on the stock market with the crash, and the mortgage wasn't likely to be easy to reschedule or negotiate. The bank was sympathetic, but not able to do much more than agree that he had a problem.
He began making applications for jobs almost immediately. But after a few weeks and only one reply, which was negative, he got the message that it was going to be tough.
By the end of the month, he knew it was going to be more than tough. The bills, which he'd barely noticed when working, were big. Too big. The budget was in ruins.
One night, he and his wife had a long, sad, talk in the living room. They looked around the house, which they'd bought soon after their marriage. Their daughter's pictures were the only bright spots in a grim conversation.
They couldn't possibly keep the house. If they sold, they'd probably lose money. They couldn't expect any equity in the sale. They'd have to rent, and just hope they didn't wind up owing money after the sale, if they could sell, in a tough housing market.
Fortunately, the bank was realistic, and while agreeing about the need to sell, said that they'd be trying for the original purchase price or better, so they didn't lose money themselves. The house was new, and in a good neighborhood. Foreign buyers were in the market, and prices in the area were holding up at that point in time.
They moved out, and in a much less luxurious apartment, in a lower scale neighborhood, which fit the new budget, they started off on their new life. They were still solvent, barely, despite the school costs.
Young families are the most vulnerable to the effects of unemployment. All the costs of life are yet to come. Even putting food on the table is often difficult. Extra costs can be impossible. The facts can be utterly brutal.
Jack, who was finding the whole thing grim in the extreme, was trying, hard, to get work, but in a recession that's not easy. Nothing about unemployment was normal, in Jack's experience.
He'd learned the first lesson of the world of unemployment: survival.
He'd also found a new side of himself: He'd do anything for his family.
Hard times bring out the best in some people. Jack would need his best for what was to come.