When I got a call from our Nova Scotia-based partner detailing a U.S. dealership’s suddenly closed doors in August, it signaled the start of the Big 3’s sputtering engines. Though the Big 3 are Motor City-planted, the automotive stall has far reaching effects some 1300 miles away.
You see, I’m a Project Leader for a company whose specialty is seated in business development for automotive dealerships in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Since September, I’ve watched our client base plummet a whopping 24% so revenue shrinkage automatically sparks job insecurity. Sitting in the breakdown lane is preferable to standing in the unemployment line any day, however.
Credit-constricted consumers simply aren’t signing the new car contract’s dotted line, extending product lull and postponing liquidity. Unless its service business is robust, a lag in vehicular movement also depletes the dealership’s till. After all, there are still operating expenses to meet. For the average Joe, long gone are the days of the $500 down auto deal and hassle-free financing,
Conversely, the silver-spooned suffer fewer purchasing obstacles. A portly gentleman tooling around in a $385,575 brand spanking new black Rolls Royce Phantom replete with theater seating made me gawk with disgust recently. His fat pockets are pain-free, obviously, while the rest of the country languishes. Flaunting wealth in this recession is downright obscene.
Thus, expenses like value-added training become expedient in an interrupted economy. A $14-billion dollar governmental intervention may stave off GM and Chrysler bankruptcy in the short-term but it doesn’t put the brakes on future contract cancellations or job losses although import-branded stores like Honda, Toyota, Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Ferrari and Maserati remain on board.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place while awaiting the ax, I’d give anything to escape massive market uncertainty with a new job but where will the pursuit road lead? Diving into an unusually deep pool of job seekers is a scary prospect given limited availability. The mere thought of it and a racy heartbeat announces the beginning of another overwhelmed spell. Just like brushing my teeth, vacillating between anger and sadness is now embedded as routine.
Biting the downsize bullet has been a bright spot amidst the doom and gloom. In addition to decreasing my reliance on plastic, the entertainment fund has been slashed - I've sacrificed eating and cocktailing in trendy establishments. Whenever possible, I use cash and watch every penny like a hawk. Having to reconsider a Starbucks-branded tall Caramel Macchiato, a few magazine subscriptions or an occasional movie outing registers a familiar place in the past but one I didn’t expect to revisit so soon.
Frankly, I’m mad at myself for several years of frivolous spending and a lack of savings preparedness. Forced to show off my new body in old garments, I've come to grips with how wasteful it is to add fresh pieces when I can’t afford to clean the vast wardrobe I already own. If only I knew then what I know now, the pockets might've been housed a heavier jingle.
Compounded by wages that haven’t increased in the past 24 months and no tuition reimbursement perks, I’d hoped reentering academia’s halls next year would remedy career stall – that's still the plan although abbreviated funding sources won’t defer my master’s degree dreams for long. Finding a way is critical because without challenge, the mental wheels slowly rotate. In other words, I bore easily.
And if the threat of joblessness and meager unemployment compensation isn’t nerve-wracking enough, amended credit card agreement letters have started flooding in like New Orleans’ post-Hurricane Katrina waters. Citibank’s was the most infuriating. While my credit line remained intact, the APR skyrocketed. I’ve never missed a payment.
With a fresh stack of bailout bills in the billions, the absence of an Internet payment option for a secondary Citibank account makes greedy intentions clear – I’m so fed up with government-sanctioned ratejacking that I could cry. Times are tumultuous and the future, I’m afraid, has never looked more frightening.
In fact, this is the worst I’ve seen and although moments of vulnerability and struggle are magnified, these experiences could translate into our greatest strengths. Life isn’t about weathering storms; it’s about learning to dance in the rain. Thus, prayer and pumping iron are my rain gear of choice during the indefinite downpour. Eventually, economic calamity will pass and no matter how bad it gets, even armed commandoes can’t rupture my faith. The material possessions may go but this recessionista will survive.