This week I have had one of the biggest reality checks of my young life. I like to think that I am well informed, I read and watch the news and even occasionally listen to NPR (usually only in the car with my dad). I tune in to the devastating stories about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast and the amusing one man mission to find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. I guess it's safe to say that I am removed from these stories, understanding them at best from a distance.
I live in New York, a big and diverse state that is currently dealing with some serious financial problems. Many state institutions are closing and the ones that remain opened are running off of a series of emergency bills. As I have mentioned in my previous post, I work at a state campground. Like most of my peers, I enjoy complaining about work. However, this was jeopardized when last week my coworkers and I were informed that we would lose our jobs because the campground was closing. For me this is just a summer job, but for others that I work with, this is their way of paying the bills.
At first I couldn't believe that this was happening, but then I remembered an article warning of this possibility. I already knew about the shut-down and I found myself explaining the situation to my boss. If the budget did not pass state parks and recreation facilities along with some unemployment offices would close. This would leave more than 200,000 people jobless, myself included.
I've grown up in a small town in Upstate New York and I go to college in Vermont, which sometimes makes the news that I read in The New York Times difficult to apply to my own life. I had a revelation and it is this- news stories are everyday things that happen to people like you and me. The news is real life and even if we are not directly affected it should not be so unusual to imagine that someday, something will impact us.
Fortunately New York passed another temporary bill to fund state operations, and I am still employed this week. But next week is a new week, and no one knows what could happen. I am lucky to still have a job and I couldn't help but remember a conversation that I had with a unemployed homeless man during my service trip to Boston. He said that he would love more than anything to be able complain about work and would consider himself blessed to be a disgruntled employee. He is right and I am going to try harder to not take my job for granted.