The crushing reality of unemployment and hope in Ireland
Last June I got that call.
‘Meet me in the Clare Galway hotel for a coffee’
It was my cheery boss.
When I arrived he was sitting in the lobby nervously tapping on his Blackberry, hair gelled, trendy designer shirt casually unbuttoned, expensive distressed jeans, pointy brown shoes (the ‘I am really your friend’ style of management).
He took in a big breath: ‘Mary we are going to have to let you go…’
He then looked at me sideways for a few seconds to see if I was going to cry.
I didn’t, he let out a sigh of relief and gave me a big hug.
Another one bites the dust.
My initial reaction was guilty glee at the prospect of the summer ahead not glued to my laptop and mobile phone; the scary bank balance didn’t really feature at that stage.
My husband’s business, which relied on the construction industry, also folded. He got a job in his original capacity, mechanic. He now leaves home at 7, drives for an hour, lies on a cold concrete shed floor under a JCB or other large machine for 8 hours and gets home at half 6 with hands stained permanently black from oil and a sore back.
He is happy to have the work, and so am I.
I am grateful for a lot of things, we are all healthy, the children are living in a happy bubble and we are not going to emigrate.
I have done all the free things advised to keep the unemployed happy:
• I have taken up running.
• I have volunteered for a part time unpaid job.
• I have applied for a government funded evening course.
• I have had taken up a (free) hobby.
• I have kept in touch with friends.
And whatever criticisms people have about facebook it is a form of social contact that does not require you to buy a cup of coffee.
Most of the time my spirits are high but the general countrywide malaise does encroach on me. At 7 in the morning, when I have to press the repeat button and do all the things that I failed to complete yesterday, my legs get really heavy and lazy and start arguing with my head:
‘Stay in bed…why bother getting up...you have no target to meet…you will only have to do this again tomorrow’
While my head is saying:
‘Come on, a new day, make the lunches, tidy the kitchen, go for a run’.
The head wins but the legs are putting up a better fight every day.
My situation is mild compared to many but it gives me an insight into that crushing feeling of hopelessness.
It is clear that the Samaritans need all the donations they can get.
We are all hoping Enda Kenny is going to pull a fat rabbit out of his hat next week.
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