Jack meets the new reality

Jack had made the adjustment to unemployment like a man in a bad dream. Everything was new, unpleasant, and didn't make a lot of sense.

There was a lot to learn, and having been raised in a very stable family environment, it was just plain weird. He'd never gone without anything before in his life, and he really wasn't prepared. Nor was his wife, Sue, whose life had been a perfect rendition of the life script in any middle class family until now.

The first thing Jack and Sue discovered was that it was all Jack's fault. Sue's family, with the exception of her father and brother, seemed to think the whole marriage was a mistake, all of a sudden.

This idea produced a furious detonation on Sue's part which shocked everyone, particularly Sue herself. There was an all out family brawl, which Sue won. She forced the rest of her family to back down. She resented the injustice to Jack, and her mother and sisters were soon under no illusions about that.

Fortunately, they were also realistic enough to honestly admit they were wrong, when they heard the facts about the downsizing. They'd got the wrong version of the story, and had thought Jack had lost his job for some other reason. As her mother said, it was the sort of suburban-normal reaction, from people who'd never experienced the effect themselves. The minute Sue mentioned downsizing, they'd realized they'd got it wrong. They were embarrassed.

Unfortunately for Jack and Sue, the lack of normalcy was also showing up in their other relationships, and that was embarrassing to them. Friends from Jack's old job disappeared, one by one, with only Frank, a long time friend, who'd also been downsized recently, staying on regular contact.

They couldn't socialize like they did, obviously, and that further reduced their circle of people. It was a form of humiliation. Jack remarked that he could hold a personal network meeting in a bathtub, for the number of reliable people he knew. It was tough on a young couple, who'd been relatively sheltered for their entire lives, to be thrown out in the cold.

Sue, meanwhile, was busily being supportive in other ways. She went out every day looking for work herself. She'd been intending to go back to work soon anyway, when their daughter was old enough, but she'd brought that forward. In a recession, of course, it wasn't easy for her, either, but she was getting interviews, and going for anything she could find.

Jack had really been trying, and was also exploring the possibility of opening his own business. That, without a network, was incredibly difficult. Frank, thankfully, had a few ideas, and they were even talking about a partnership. The general shock had worn off, and ideas were starting to make more sense.

But it was really hard. The budget was very tight, and they were genuinely hanging in there on willpower.

All their little luxuries had by now disappeared, and the only person who was living a relatively normal life was their daughter, Jill. She was, understandably, a bit confused by moving out of the house into the apartment, and having to go to a different, cheaper, school. She was a loving kid, and stopped asking about the food when her mother gave her a look between a wince and a sob. She adapted, and tried to get her parents to laugh, or at least smile.

Jack and Sue spent one entire evening looking at Jill's pictures after they put her to bed, without saying a word.