One mess of a year!

Here is a “tree falls in the forest question”. If someone is blogging and no one is reading it, is the blogger talking to himself?

The work continues on the website as well as various other social media sites such as LinkedIn and Free Agents (2012 note, site now dead!) . Still have to work on my Plaxo account.

The old year is finally coming to a close. What a mess of a year!!! I can’t remember one as weird and messed up (for us) as this one!!

I was almost laid off in April (staffing issues and state budget issues) and had to fight for my job. I went on vacation (already scheduled and booked before I knew about the layoff. We went to the Great Pyrenees National Specialty in Santa Barbara) without even knowing if I had a job when I came back. The bad thing was the Division Chief knew I was staying on but he went on vacation with out telling anyone else!

Missed the big fires this year because the Captain at the station that handles the out-of-county responses was taking them (and all the OT) for himself and his partners.

Had to drop an important class that I have been wanting for years because Mrs. Obama was coming to UC Merced, we had to cover extra engines and I couldn’t get coverage so that I could go the the class. They rescheduled the class but then I was to be laid off again (I was at the bottom of the seniority list and also not eligible for permanent hire) and was dropped from the class (even though I wasn’t laid off!) again.

I was told by the Division Chief that he would look into my situation and that there was a possibility of bringing me on permanently or, at the least extending my time (Limited term employees can only work 24 months but if eligible can be extend in 12 month blocks). He again goes on vacation (he was very close to retirement) and the next time he sees me, he tells me that not only can I not be brought on permanent at this time, but because of the county budget cuts, I am being laid of in 2 weeks!

My Battalion Chief (my direct supervisor)was angry that I found out before him and that he didn’t have a chance to tell me himself (the first time I was almost laid off, not only did he not tell me but I found out from a scheduling Captain that I was almost laid off after the fact!). He said that he would see what he could do. Unbeknownst to him, I was taken off the schedule even thought I had not been formally notified nor had the lay off process actually been initiated. I worked the next two weeks thinking that the end of the month was my last day but still not having any clue as to where I was supposed to turn in my gear, who would do my separation interview (which was never done BTW) or when I would get my last check. I work up to what was supposed to be my last day before I found out that I was still working for another 16 days!

The next 16 days were a real mess becuase I was bounced all over the unit, working odd days and split stations and still no paperwork, no interview, no idea where/when to turn in my fire gear (2 sets issued by 2 different agencies)

On top of all this we learned that my wife needed a hysterectomy ASAP (and we also had no idea when my insurance would run out) and her surgery was scheduled for the day after my last shift (I was on 24 hour shifts and my last shift ended the morning of her surgery). Talk about elevated stress levels.

I was laid off from CalFire the week before Thanksgiving and because of Debi’s surgery, I not only cared for her (as well as the house and animals) but handled the family Thanksgiving as well. Thanksgiving actually went well but then Debi developed a series of infections that almost put her back in the hospital. On top of all of that, we had to worst winter storm in 19 years hit us, take out power and do a lot of damage to the property including freezing and rupturing an insulated waterline from the well, leaving us with out water even after the power came back on.

Because of the storm, I missed the phone interview with the state unemployment office and, because of the state budget crises and the economy, was never able to get someone on the phone. Consequently my unemployment claim was denied and I have to refile it! No income there for months!

Add to all of this the stresses of Christmas, the stress of Debi’s website development business being slow (steady and getting better but still off from 2007) and the financial stresses of being laid off in a depression and you have one mess of a year!

Now I know that I do not have it anywhere near as bad as many and that I was lucky to be working at all (stress or not) through what is hoped to be the roughest part of the downturn. I still have my home and have the support of the best wife an man could have. I am grateful for what I have and thankful that life for us has not been anywhere near as rough as it has for many Americans but I am SO happy that this year is over!

Here’s hoping for a better New Year for all of us.

Happy New Year


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