Saturday, December 11, 2010

So, What's New With You, Then...

So asked an acquaintance, the friend of a friend...

I paused before answering, a habit developed long ago at the hand of a favourite teacher who was fond of telling students, "It is far better to keep your mouth closed and be thought an idiot than to speak and prove your detractors correct."

Millions of thoughts flashed through my mind, the foremost being a question about whether this individual was nosey or had some genuine concern for my well-being...

A split second later, I heard myself admit that nothing much was new, that I was getting on with things and was fine, really.

Her arched eyebrow said she was unconvinced, and as we sat for a minute longer, I told her of yet another older friend who lost a job and is now looking for work, at seventy,just when she ought to be able to enjoy some peace in her so-called "golden years."

Like many, she has a mortgage and other obligations, and cannot afford to simply bask in the glow of former careers until she leaves the planet. I have another friend whose sister trained in a new field upon being downsized, and two years later, still cannot find work. She has been rejected from retail establishments seeking holiday help on grounds of over qualification. She is about forty and nowhere near retirement.

I wonder about what our workforce will look like as more and more of us take any job just to squeak by...

My own experience shows that standards of living and expectations have shrunk for the first time in a generation. My parents never had to worry. Their jobs were secure. They worked and saved, sending me to university in the hope that I too might reap the benefits of security, an idea that grows more illusory by the day.

I rarely travel anymore, eat in restaurants, go to the cinema, visit the library or the park, or see plays, and I think twice before buying anything and only get new items on discount. I've reduced my grocery bills, and haven't run the heat during this cold snap, preferring to wear my coat instead. I've no television and no cable and have developed a coupon habit. I'm also considering getting rid of my long distance phone service and using Skype.

If any of you have experience with Skype, kindly let me know.

All of this is by way of saying I'm living differently, and will continue to examine both priorities and expectations as I think we're all in this so-called recession for much longer than anticipated.

What do you think?

Until Next Time...

11 comments:

Michael said...

I totally agree we are actaully and was just thinking this earlier today. I too have cut back on all those things--in fact cut back years and years ago to where now I don;t even have a tv or stereo. My life in terms of hardware is my computer and even then, I don;t pay for my own internet.

nick said...

Unfortunately there are many many people now in your situation, having to cut back on just about everything and wondering where the old sense of security and prosperity went to. Luckily Jenny and I are still doing well, but it would only take Jenny losing her job to cause havoc.

Meanwhile the obscenely rich get even richer thanks to tax dodging and timid governments. No wonder politicians are now so despised.

the walking man said...

People are just now starting to get it. The middle is near totally squeezed out and the target is now the upper middle.

The degreed professionals who spent their lives learning specialized skills who make a few dollars above average are the next in line for the grand theft.

Tenure will be taken from teachers, business models are changing to PT work for most with no paid benefits and by forcing the working classes to work 2 or 3 jobs just to stay even that will keep them off the streets in protest.

I personally think we are headed for a great social upheaval and it will be ugly, very ugly.

Anonymous said...

Yes I think things have changed and it will continue because change is the only constancy,we will have to adapt.I hope things will improve though,I just hope.Have a nice day.

the fly in the web said...

You've cut your cloth according...I know people...usually kids of friends..who just do not know how to do this and even in these difficult times their banks let them ramp up on their credit cards.

As to Skype I've used it in France and in Costa Rica and it is a good service...free computer to computer, cheap to a landline or even to a mobile.

There are all sorts of bells and whistles to it which I don't use as what I' do use is more than adequate to keep in touch with friends...an e mail is good, but hearing a much loved voice is much better!

nick said...

I meant to say, we Skype our friend in Melbourne every weekend and it's great. Better than a phone call because you also get a picture and it's free.

Baino said...

I know what it's like looking for work when you're over 40 . . I was told by many employers that I wasn't the right 'cultural fit' a euphamism for just being too old. I did find a job but it took me 18 months to find my niche and now I'm happy. Skype is wonderful. PC to PC it's free and PC to landline very very cheap. Of course it's only as good as your internet connection but I use it every day.

Anonymous said...

I hear you loud and clear, I am making a few life changes, some drastic, the arts are not exactly a necessity in this economy. It is a comfort to know that we are not alone in this situation.
much love,
David

A Super Dilettante said...

I think you should be proud for not being apart of the consumerism. My moral force in this category is weaker than yours. I have a weakness for nice beautiful things. I long for beauty more than ever before especially when you live in the ugly city where it is too grey and dirty to go out. But you know, I often resist the temptation of Christmas shopping by saying "No, I'm not a consumer" and I walked out straight from the shop. I haven't got internet at home. I don't dine out and in fact, I rarely go out these days. My close friends came to see me at home for dinner and it doesn't cost you much if it is home made. I have other hobbies and pursuits that don't cost a lot of money...you can pick up a book at the second handshops for £1.00.

The bike shed said...

Though it makes us think about what is important, the reality is that cutting back is not easy. Bt much owrse to me would be the insecurity faced by some of teh people you describe.

Skype - fab, but it is limited to people on line for free calls

Barbara said...

I'm glad I never had to fear for losing my job, but it's not like that today for many people, as you have indicated. I worry about my children finding jobs they love and jobs that pay well, but mostly I worry about them finding jobs at all!

We have used Skype successfully mostly for international communication. It works extremely well. Feel free to consult the expert in our household, which is not me!