Friday, February 15, 2013


Mary quit her job in Manhattan after her second child. She always told herself she would go back once her kids got older. Her husband made good money then. They sold their small house and moved far out to a large house close to the country. This was during the boom when everyone thought things would always get better. They had another baby and forgot all about Mary going back to work. Then the crash came and her husband lost his job.

Mary tried to get freelance work from her old boss but there was none. They hunkered down and went through their savings and the college funds and then they went on Medicaid and food stamps. Tom got a job at Home Depot and made minimum wage. The Great Recession went on and on and her kids got older. She turned fifty and started worrying about retirement. She had to go back to work.

Mary sent out hundreds and  hundreds of resumes. No one responded. No one. She sat in the big house close to the country and stared out at the vacant fields. Her husband worked a lot of overtime at Home Depot even though he had two degrees. A lot of people at Home Depot were highly educated. Some had Phds. In the new economy education didn't seem to matter. Mary met her old college roommate who was a teacher to see if she could substitute. They connected on Facebook.

They met in Starbucks. Diane looked great and didn't have the circles under her eyes.
Its so good to see you Mary.
You too.
So... Diane said tipping her glasses down. You want to substitute.
Mary smiled.
I'll do anything.
Diane settled back and stared at her.
Well too bad you cant take my job.
Mary frowned.
What do you mean? Are you getting laid off?
I'm retiring next year.
Mary stared at her. Stunned.
But you are only fifty two!
Diane shrugged.
I put in my thirty years and I want to take my pension while at my salary high.
Mary couldn't believe it. She had just turned fifty two.
I'll never retire she said wondrously.
Diane smiled again. She had never married and didn't have children. She had put in her time and felt slightly annoyed with people who never thought about retirement. People who thought teachers had it made She had lately become sharp with the children.
When was the last time you worked, Mary?
Twelve years ago. She paused. I think that's why nobody responds to my resumes.
Diane tipped up her glasses and smiled at Mary like a student.
Well she said briskly to her old college roommate. 
In a way, Mary. You are retired.
Rocket Man....the American Dream Upside down


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