Hi, Kim here. By now, you know my husband Mark and I have three girls with autism. Our life is more difficult that I could convey to you in a book the size of the Bible, let alone a short post. One hour ago, my husband lost his job. This is the third job he's lost in seven years.
Isn't that shocking?
Was your first thought, "What a deadbeat!" No, he is not.
Was your second thought, "Is he a lazy-good-for-nothing bum?" No, he most certainly is not.
He's a talented, hard working, college-educated sales professional in the houseware and giftware industry. He's a good husband and a wonderful father to three little girls who will depend on him for the rest of their lives (how's that for pressure?) who works 60 hours a week and is honest to a fault.
And he's out of work.
Why is he out of work? Because retail sales in America are shot to pieces. He's been on the corporate side of the business and thought that moving to the representative side might mean more job security, with dozens of product lines to sell instead of just one. Not so much. After all, who has any money to shop for pretty house stuff in this economy? After watching gas prices skyrocket to $4.00 and more per gallon, folks are hanging onto every nickel as if it's their last. Most of Mark's accounts stopped writing purchase orders right after the economy's collapse in September, and his company's business went kaput.
He was the last hired, and you know that goes. Adios. That's the thing about losing your job. When you do get hired? You're the last man in -- and the first man out.
I'm watching the reports that AIG is going to get more money from the government. GM is lining up so Uncle Sam can pay them for the mistake of making too many of the wrong vehicles for too long. Wall Street muckety mucks have their hats in their hands for bonus payouts using money Mark and I paid into taxes.
Dammit, we've worked hard to hold our life together. We've never said, "Times are tough, screw you!" to our creditors. We've paid our bills on time. We paid Peter and Paul and robbed no one. We haven't gotten divorced. Our kids are neat and clean and happy and doing the best they can given the crappy deck they were dealt courtesy of the scourge we call autism.
We've cut back, changed our lifestyle, made sacrifices. In 2005, we sold our home so we could pay off our mortgage and avoid bankruptcy. I watched my husband look in the rear view mirror as we drove out of our neighborhood for the last time with tears in his eyes. Not for himself. For us. The family he vowed before God to care for. We headed to my parent's house, 600 miles away. Yes, Mark, Kim and three kids with autism, we all moved into my parent's house. We were like a freaky reality show.
We're now renters. No more American dream of home ownership for us.
Before we sold our house, I had the garage sale from hell. And every Christmas since, I recall all those decorations I sold for pennies on the dollar so we wouldn't have to pay to store them. I miss my stupid Santa wreath from JoAnn's Fabrics. Isn't that silly? I miss my scratched kitchen table where Mark and I sat and dreamt of raising a family and fed our babies dinner and wanted nothing more than a nice, normal life.
What the hell happened?
At that garage sale, I refused to sell the awards (beautiful fine China bowls) that Mark won when he was with Lenox China. One reads, "Rookie of the Year: 1991" and the other reads, "District Manager of the Year: 1992." My husband was the first person to ever win those awards back to back. As often as I remind him that he's still a good salesman and husband, sometimes it's better to look at those bowls. They're more concrete than a wife's words. (Soon we'll be eating bagged cold cereal out of them, I suppose.)
We sold our life out of our driveway so we could remain solvent and honorable. It's how we were raised and how we're raising our girls. "Do the right thing!" Today I ask, "For what? "
At the end of the day, we're saps, aren't we? Mark and Kim Stagliano are total saps. Two idiots who pay their bills on time and give an honest day's work for an honest day's pay.
There is no bailout for people like Mark and me and millions of Americans who have lost or are about to lose their jobs.
I'd keep writing, but my screen is suddenly blurry. If I can't get a bailout, can I at least have a bail bucket? It's getting inexplicably wet here at my keyboard in Connecticut. Thank God we bought cheap tissue at Costco last week. It had better last us a long while. I fear we'll need it.
Follow Kim Stagliano on Twitter: www.twitter.com/KimStagliano