Last month, on January 14, I published a blog essay Three Years Ago Today, on my layoff from a publishing house job in 2009. It elicited widespread reaction, measured in sheer numbers of responses on Facebook and Twitter; on this blog, altogether totaling more than 200; in the engaged remarks from many friends and colleagues; and in the new contacts and readers it’s attracted to this website. The essay’s also attracted interest from a website that my friend and author Michael Goldfarb, former NPR correspondent, had referred me to, Over and 50 and Out of Work: Stories of the Great Recession. This a remarkable site and I’m very proud they’ve now published it on their site, among the company of extraordinary people featured on their web pages. You may see it here, and while you’re there, view some of the videos they’ve posted, with personal testimony from individuals like myself. Additionally, a magazine called NY______, or NY Underscore, is running a condensed version of the essay in their upcoming ‘Jobs’ issue. Clearly, the piece has struck a chord with many readers, and at least two web and magazine editors.
I should add that the essay also elicited one remark that wasn’t so kind, which I learned about from a friend. A person I shall not name, though I will say it was someone with a fulltime job, said to this friend, “He should stop talking about getting fired.” This was evidently meant as free advice, as if I should refrain from damaging my chances of regaining employment by being too open about my experience. I felt like a person with a serious illness might feel, who’s told not to speak of their malady in public, to spare those not afflicted the discomfort of learning about it. At first, I was stung by this, as if I’d been told to “Shut up,” and then I realized this person’s reading was so reductionist and witless that they didn’t even register the difference between getting “fired” and being laid off–of being one employee in a group of dozens in a corporation who’re all relieved of their jobs on the same day. After a few days, I laughed about it, and am now just bemused. It reminded me of Mitt Romney’s plea, made on January 11, just a few days before I published the essay, that income inequality and unfair tax burdens on the middle class may be discussed, but only “in quiet rooms.” Clearly, I haven’t entered any quiet rooms, I’m not “shutting up,” and the essay is proving to have an emerging afterlife; that is very gratifying indeed.