Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sign of the Times

We don't generally watch commercials in our house, thanks to the magic of DVR, but I happened to leave them on the other night and I heard something that really caught my attention. Hyundai is running an offer where you can buy (lease?) a car and then if you lose your job within the next year you can return it. Return the car. To the dealer. Before your financial obligation is up.

While this sounds like a good idea, what does it say about the current state of our economy? The house across the street from us is now in foreclosure. Everywhere I look these days good, hard-working, decent people are being laid off. Friends and their spouses were forced to take long "vacations" during the holiday season so that their companies could save some money, some were even laid off the week before christmas.

One of the bad things about frequenting national message boards is that you get the chance to really see how bad things are for every day people in situations similar to your own. There's a girl on The Nest who was pregnant when I was, her son was actually born the same day as Baby C. Her and her husband have both lost their jobs in the last few months and have been unable to find new work. They've had to cash in 401(k) plans to make rent and are on the verge of moving in with her parents (!).

Closer to home, things don't look any better. There are regular posts about local companies laying off hundreds of people. Lots of "fingers crossed" and "thoughts and prayers" for these families, many of them with small children, most of them well-educated and experienced. Now they have to worry about feeding those children and getting them the health care they need without insurance benefits.

It can happen to anyone, and that's what makes it scary. These aren't random high-school fry-cookers at McD's. They're professionals, people like us. As much as C complains about how bad it is where he works, and as much as I have my moments when I wish I didn't have to work, it's times like these when I'm so incredibly thankful that the economic slowdown hasn't pounded down our door. We're very lucky to have the jobs we have.

Here's to hoping for a brighter tomorrow, and good news for some certain people who are in my thoughts today.

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