New Reality

   You live and your learn. Not every lesson is easy.

A complete stranger schooled me the other day in how easy it is to go from a salary of $60 an hour with bonuses and benefits to making $15 an hour with no vacation and no sick days.

Factor in the cost of driving to and from this new dead-end job, lunches and COBRA medical coverage (at quadruple the price previously paid as a regular employee) and this person was netting about 50 cents an hour. And they were glad to have it.

Nearly overnight, a family with a comfortable life and money in the bank could qualify for public aid – if they weren’t too proud to apply.

This, beloved, is the true New Reality.

People who once had very good jobs and spouses who stayed home now are stringing together low-paying part-time “opportunities” just to get by.

In line at Target I overheard a woman ask if there were any openings. Her sister had five (yep 5!) part-time jobs and was looking to land a single decent one.

Every day people no different from you or me are facing this new existence. Many are personal friends.

Well-educated people with hard-to-get certifications, stellar performance reviews and many years of loyal service to The Company. Some were managers who handed pink slips to their own teams only to be let go themselves in a matter of months.

In the midst of this economic carnage, I sometimes overhear the conversations of sheltered Christians who sound very secure and certain they have the answer for what ails this country: more fiscal responsibility and belt-tightening.

Meanwhile, they remodel homes, buy cars for their newly licensed teens, plan vacations to the make-believe world of Disney. These people’s lives seem magically untouched by the forces that rock their neighbors’ world.

Personally, having been unemployed, I’d like to see a little more Christian compassion for the hurting masses. I’d like to see less criticism and a little more weeping with those who weep.

I care about this because of something else I’ve learned by personal experience: A hard heart often is softened by personal suffering. And so, this word of caution:

Do not boast of tomorrow “for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”