This is an autobiographical post. The names of people and places may be changed.
We decided to write autobiographical posts about the colorful life we have lived. There will be tales of sleeping in a campervan on the beach, of defending a bird’s nest from a snake, and of running away from wolves while sick with bronchitis. There will be tales of diagnosis with PTSD and ADHD and how it changed our lives, of meeting biological family, and of job loss. It’s a tale of overcoming challenges, of finding out who we are, of love, hope, cats, and of a marriage that’s gotten stronger through it all.
Autobiography Post 4
The year was 2018. We began the new year in the typical cold midwest fashion. I had my first remote job as a sourcer, and Dorian was in his (at the time) favorite job as a promotions producer in the city. We had no idea that by the end of April, we’d both be in the worst position we had yet to find ourselves in. We had no idea that we’d both lose our jobs.
Dorian’s was first. The company was going through a series of layoffs, and he got told very suddenly. Before he left, he overhead that management, in an effort to cheer the remaining employees up, was throwing a big food truck party. It rubbed salt in the wound, wondering how they couldn’t afford to keep people in their jobs, but could afford workplace parties.
“Management told me now I have to do your job, too,” Dorian’s boss complained. “I don’t know where they think I’m going to get the time. What they are doing is ridiculous.”
It would of course be only a couple weeks after Dorian lost his workplace benefits that I would have to be rushed to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack, but actually was having a strange reaction to an allergy medicine my mother-in-law advised me to take. Due to having no insurance, the hospital dropped the bill from $8,000 to $2,000.
Only a couple of weeks after that, my boss did an audio-only virtual meeting with me, saying he was laying me off due to budget constraints. I couldn’t help it, I burst in tears. I told him this was very difficult to hear given that I just got saddled with a large hospital bill right after my husband lost his job (which my boss already knew about because I’d taken a couple days off to recover). What made it all even more emotional was that Dorian had popped into the room to grab something during the meeting, and he put his arms around me as I was received the news.
We couldn’t believe it. We both lost our jobs. What were we going to do?
Filing for unemployment kept us afloat during our job search. But we didn’t know what to occupy our days with. While we enjoyed being at home together for the first time, there was also an undertone of depression and desperation. And that led to some bad habits.
We spent a lot of time watching tv, a lot of time playing video games, and a lot of time sitting down. We got absolutely hooked on McDonald’s, which was the closest restaurant to our rural house. We ate there all the time. Sometimes twice in one day, with a big tin of cookies.
This led to inevitable weight gain. It only worsened how we felt about everything in general. We took less pictures of ourselves. We didn’t dress up as much. Fast food is designed to make you addicted, and the thought of giving it up, especially during such a stressful time, was daunting. So, we didn’t.
As we applied and interviewed for various jobs, we suddenly had a new option ahead of us. We could get jobs in a new state. We could sell our house and move somewhere way more exciting than Oklahoma. And so, given that we are creative, our initial thought was jobs in California.
We applied and interviewed for a handful. And we came very, very close. I interviewed for a recruiter job in Burbank. It paid well, although I should have seen it as a red flag that the interview happened at 7pm and I could still hear a massively busy office over the phone. They were interested in hiring me. But I had to hold off on accepting.
Because Dorian had an interview to be a producer for a video game company in Irvine.
“We’d love to have you on!” the recruiter told him. “You’d be a perfect fit for this role! Let me chat with my manager and we’ll see about moving you forward in the process.”
We were delighted! What an exciting opportunity! However, Burbank and Irvine were a two-hour drive from one another. That wouldn’t work. We could only take one job or the other.
“You take yours,” I told Dorian. “That’s a much more exciting opportunity than mine.”
We waited. But when the video game company got back with Dorian, the recruiter said, “Actually, we aren’t hiring at the moment. We were just seeing if any candidates were interested. I’ll get back to you if the position truly opens up.”
We were crushed. It made no sense to us. Why post a job and interview people if you aren’t actually hiring? I reached back out to the place I had interviewed with, telling them I was available. I got only one response back.
“There’s no availability at this time.”
I was surprised. It had only been a week. And given that my impression was I had everything short of a signed job offer, I expected some more friendliness and explanation.
And so, we didn’t move.
The Looming Deadline
Unemployment told us we had six months before all our payments would stop. The deadline was close, and we were nervous. What would we do if we couldn’t find work?
Towards the end Dorian was called into the unemployment office to check on his status. Which was strange, because I was never called.
Dorian told the lady assigned to him, “It’s been hard. I’m a producer for entertainment. There’s not a lot of opportunity in Oklahoma.”
“But it’s growing!” she said optimistically. “It’s really booming around here for opportunities!”
Finally, Dorian got hired on first at a news station. About a month later I got hired on as a regional recruiter for a bank. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a job. That was all that mattered at the time.
What we didn’t know was that we were about to stay at our jobs for only a few months due to highly toxic workplaces. Dorian had to endure a fit-throwing boss who had extremely high employee turnover from his bad attitude. And I was about to work for a crazy lady who readily admitted that she watched me though the cameras (from her office two hours away) to see how long my bathroom breaks were.
Something had to change. Something in our lives had to get better.
And we were about to make the best decision that changed the course of our lives forever.