My story begins the fall of 1998 when I return to the workforce after taking a year off to spend time with my young family. I needed to file for divorce and had to get a job. It took all of 2 weeks to find a good paying job as a production supervisor in a Tier 1 automotive plant. This plant supplied the Big 3 with convertible top assemblies.
This is southern Michigan, rural farm land with a large manufacturing base.
Shortly after I hired in, my plant began shifting operations to our sister plant in Toluca, Mexico. Little by little our parent company milked us dry. We were a fairly recent acquisition for this enormous supplier of products used to create the “cockpit” in the cars we drive. With manufacturing plants across 3 continents, their goals were selfish and shortsighted. A few CEOs came and went, taking with them large multi-million dollar severance packages on their way out the door. Soon we were known as the "launch plant" and once new programs were production ready, they were Mexico bound. They filed for bankruptcy in 2004ish. Through several headcount reductions in salaried workforce, I was lucky. I managed to hang on and ended up being the "last dog standing" in my department.
I tried; man did I try, to influence the process. My ability to motivate my employees to achieve record production goals I thought would make a difference in the long run. On a regular basis, I'd march into the operation managers office and announce "How do ya like me now?!? 110% of goal! Ha!" Finally the plant manager pulled me aside, I think I was becoming tiresome to the big guy, and gently told me it didn't matter how good my team was, cause if we could do it, the Mexicans could do it cheaper.
It was strange really, for 3 years after filing bankruptcy, I still did not anticipate that I may be in for a long term struggle financially. I shoulda been a cheerleader, happy go lucky dork that I am. I worked so hard to keep my crew positive that it resulted in me not fully grasping our obvious and ultimate demise. So my company lied, cheated and cooked the books to the point that 3 of the top managers turned state’s evidence on the current CEO and he was indicted for fraud and money laundering. And that was mid 2007.
But land on my feet I did when 2 weeks before the doors closed I was offered a job as a contract supervisor at the Delphi plant directly across the street. Sweet! More money, oh yea so they are in bankruptcy too, but Mama's got a job and dinners on the table!
Thud! The other shoe drops and 6 days before Christmas in 2007 they called me into the office to lay me off but guess what, get to finish the week. Fabulous! Hateful hostile work environment, major bunch of assholes. F**king B*tch even wanted me to write up one of the job setters she had targeted, and I was still her sheriff till Friday. (um, I refused to follow through, whatta ya gonna do, FIRE ME?)The loss of my routine, a 60 hour work week that started as early as 2:45am when I rolled my ass outta bed, had a paralyzing effect on me.
Early 2008, its winter in Michigan, ice, snow, me holed up in my remodeled 1876 country home doing my best to not FREEZE. Depression sets in. Remember I have a cheerleader personality; these things don't happen to me! There is no such thing as failure! Hike your skirt up and run sister! Fuck.
Oh, and the insurance of course was cut off immediately. A trip to the SS office and I was able to qualify my son for Medicaid, but when she looked at my hard earned little portfolio, she said, “My you have done well for yourself, you don’t qualify.”
With one child now in college and one high school, I slide into a bit of a depressed state, gained a few pounds, now chubby, broke and depressed. I bum around looking for work, turns out I need a degree now to be a supervisor, don’t gots one. Oh and can’t fail to mention the 20% unemployment rate in my county (no not Detroit, that was worse, or check out the stats on Flint)
So I did what any normal person would do and got my real estate license in an incredibly down market, sold my mom’s 37 acre farm, gave my home back to the bank after a failed short sale, packed all my worldly belongings, (and those of my then 79 year old mom’s vast accumulation of worldly belongs, some of which she still cannot find, shhhhh) onto a 54 foot trailer and had 3 farm boys drive it out to Kansas! (I had an epiphany, what can I say).
Bottom line, I’m happy, the plan, while always in transition, has borne fruit. And my economy will not be controlled by this economy, ‘cause its fucked.