Sunday, February 8, 2009

Why a Garden?

I don't usually get too personal in blogs, but there're personal reasons why I thought of the Obama Garden. 

My husband is employed by a large pharmaceutical company that was recently taken over by an even larger one. Takeovers are notorious for producing huge layoffs. The takeover company has mentioned that they will pfire ten thousand people before this deal is done. (No, that's not a typo.) Probably twenty thousand.  Or more. 

Three weeks ago, I thought we were perfectly secure, economically. Indeed, I was getting a job with the aforementioned large pharm company. My office space was already assigned. The verbal offer had been spoken and accepted. I had stopped taking consulting jobs a couple months ago in preparation for my new job, so my consulting income dried up. 

Suddenly, HR got balky. Then the rumors started. 

By the next Monday at 7:00 AM, the takeover was hot news on CNBC. 

Then, my new job evaporated. 

And we were suddenly very worried about my husband's job. Twenty thousand people are going to be laid off from his company. That's a scary percentage of the employees. 

We went from the tax bracket that Obama plans to increase taxes on to ZERO over one weekend, at least in our fears. 

One of my thoughts amidst the panic was, "At least I put in garden beds last fall. With $20 worth of seeds, at least I can keep us in fresh vegetables for the season, if he gets laid off. We can survive on beans, rice, and my garden." 

We're more secure about his job, now. At least we're less worried considering the severence package that we've read about, plus my darling hubby has already been offered two jobs with other companies, if he does get laid off. He's a smart guy. His project seems to be important to the taking-over company. There is at least a moderate chance that he will be retained. 

I've started looking for consulting business again. (If you're a pharmaceutical company in need of a consultant, go to

We're not too badly off, considering. We have options. 

Others, out there, are in much worse shape than we are. While I allowed myself a moment of relief that we aren't in quite as much financial trouble as I first thought, I had seen that abyss.

The layoff abyss is a scary place. We were calculating when to sell the house (now? when the merger closes? before or after layoffs decimate this county's economy?) and whether we'd have to move in with my parents. 

I started looking for full-time jobs anywhere, even if my husband and I had to live apart for a while. 

Some of my friends are still staring into that abyss. A lot of people I don't know are staring into it or are falling into it, right now. 

My garden might help some of them. So I'm planning to plant an intensely cultivated garden to help them. Nobody turns away a perfectly ripe tomato or butternut squash. They might make a nice addition to the rice and ramen. 

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