I became married to a Statistic in November of last year. It happened suddenly – without warning. In the morning I was married to my hubby of 32 years and by afternoon – poof! I was married to a Statistic. How could this be? What happened?
Unfortunately, on that fateful day, my hubby was turned into a Statistic much like the Incredible Hulk changes within an instant. Pat (my hubby) became one of the nameless, a percentage quoted in the evening news – Pat’s job of 31 years was eliminated and he was one of the many in this country now unemployed.
When you listen to the news at night, they only talk about the percentage of workers actively looking for work – whether it went up or down in the latest job report. They talk about the percentage of workers who applied for the first time for Unemployment Benefits – whether it went up or down. And they talk about the percentage of works who have given up looking for work – and whether it went up or down.
What the news doesn’t talk about is the individual and that person’s family. They don’t talk about the emotions of the Statistic – the ups and downs. They don’t talk about the Statistic’s self-esteem – the ups and downs. And they definitely don’t talk about the Statistic’s anger – and it’s ups and downs.
We went through all of that – the anger, the frustration, the self-loathing – and most of that was just in the first few hours! As we moved through the days and then the weeks of unemployment, the self-pity set in and the feelings of inadequacy and pessimism. None of this is ever reported on the news – because a Statistic can’t tell you this information.
We were blessed compared to many of the other Statistics out there – our children are all grown and gone, so we didn’t have to worry about their well-being. We have two incomes (I should say “had”) – so we had some time to find a job. And we had a little bit of severance pay (although two months of severance after 31 years of service isn’t much, it is something).
We became even more blessed when my Statistic found a job in his area of expertise after only 10 weeks of unemployment. There are so many more Statistics out there who go for years without finding anything – or only find temporary/part-time employment – and most times at a salary far less than they were making before become a Statistic.
So – next time you listen to the news and they start talking about the Unemployment Statistics – remember that every Statistic has a face, a name and a family – and that it isn’t just the percentage points going up and down – every Statistic is suffering the same ups and downs in their own lives, their emotions and their self-esteem. Remember that a Statistic is someone’s spouse, parent, sibling. Most important – even if the evening news doesn’t remember to tell you – remember that each Statistic is an INDIVIDUAL – which means that every up and down is a person out of work, a family suffering with that individual. These aren’t just numbers – these are PEOPLE.