Sunday, April 20, 2008

Transition Status

Those of you who started with me back in January (is it really that short a time?) know that the "transition" in the title of this space refers, on one level, to our hoped-for move from this house, where we have lived since 1981, to a new one, to be built on the little parcel we have in Delaware on Hopkins Prong, which is pictured at the top of the page. The move is to be financed by the proceeds from the sale of this house. On a much deeper level, we hope to transition into a completely new life. Steve would be able to retire at the end of next March; as a first step we have hoped to put this house on the market about this time next year.

I made a glancing reference yesterday to the idea that things in this regard are not looking so rosy at the moment. We're faced with two hurdles we were not planning on. One barrier, the slump in the housing market, has been sneaking up on us and is really not a surprise. Since our plan hinges on getting top dollar for this house, and the "top" seems to be lowering as time passes, we can adjust to the fact that we may have to wait maybe a year for things to settle down.

The other hurdle is much harder to deal with. It has to do with Steve's job. He works for a small California company which had contracted with the Transportation Security Administration to recruit and train all of its baggage inspectors. In the long run, the company decided, in spite of the enormous size of the contract, that it no longer wants the headache of dealing with the federal government and did not bid when the contract came up for renewal. So when the current contract ends, Steve is out of a job. That would be bad enough, but it's worse because, as a company chartered by the California state government, there are certain benefits open to employees who spend, or can administratively buy, enough time with it. As things with the contract wind down, Steve will be 59 years old and within mere months of grabbing that brass ring of vestment. He has asked the company if they will allow him to purchase--at his own expense--the additional months of credited service to reach his goal, and they have said "no." Both the company and the state itself have thrown up one block after another, telling him why things cannot be done rather than seeking creative solutions to his unique situation.

Another job within the company? It's a very tiny operation and is scaling back; besides, there is bad blood between the company and this despised TSA project to the extent that it's looking as if they simply want to wash their hands of the entire experience, employees on the project included. A job has in fact opened, and Steve has applied for it, but we aren't optimistic.

The result of all this is that Steve, approaching age 60, will be searching for a new job at a time when he is ready to call it a day, and not only that, he may have to stay with it well into his 60s in order to receive any benefits from it.

Needless to say, this is a rough time. The days are still 24 hours; life continues with its day-to-day comforts and irritations. But this huge dislocation hangs over everything and is proving very hard to adjust to. Next Wednesday will be important, we think. Concrete plans for the close-out of the project should be presented, along with timelines. We may find out how much longer Steve will be employed with the project.

So there is this new backdrop to the scribblings I share with you. I'm not one to stay down for long, and our visits together will continue as they've always been. I need this expressive outlet and am grateful for the eyes that bother with it. Steve is devastated and coping as best he can. I can be and will be here to help him, but it's frustrating to realize that it's his journey and there is only so much I can do.

I hope the next time I write about The Transition it will be with good news. To quote a song of Édith Piaf: "Tant qu'il y a de la vie, il y a de l'éspoir"--as long as there's life, there's hope.


10 comments:

Cuidado said...

How many times have I heard of this happening? Someone is so close to pension and the organization folds, is sold or makes a major downsize. There are always those few, like Steve, who are months away from the pension when this occurs and it is just not fair! We do what we have to though, don't we. I've learned recently that you NEVER know what is around the corner. Just keep your eyes on the road.

Ralph said...

You're so right, Cuidado, and it's good to be reminded of that. Steve lost his last job under awful circumstances, too, and when this once came along it was wonderful--the people he works directly with are great. Something else wonderful may be in the offing...it's just the timing that sucks. But you never know...

Nan said...

Ralph, I am so sorry to hear about Steve's job situation. I will keep him in my thoughts that the wind will change.

Ralph said...

Thanks, Nan. Life works out one way or another. If we can influence the outcome just a bit it's a plus.

Mim said...

Ralph,
Haven't commented in awhile but read you everyday! This has to be so disheartening for you both.Such uncertainty at a time you were looking forward to your plan to relocate. I am so sorry for you both. Sending good thoughts your way, especially for the upcoming meeting news and his job appl.
Mim

Ravel said...

Days of Transition are not the ones you planned and I'm always sorry to read that.
As said Piaf, in a 33 rpm where she talks about her life (Tête à tête avec Piaf): Quand ça va très mal, cela ne peut aller plus mal, donc, cela ira mieux...
Hang on!

Mary Godwin said...

Ralph and Steve, I am so "with you" as you pass through uneasy days. I know the roller coaster a stomach can ride with unexpected job news - can be a drop that threatens the end of a world and the beginning of a new adventure all balled up in one big scream. I will be remembering you both and watching for updates. Here's hugs in the meantime... -mg

Ralph said...

Thank you so much for stopping by, Mim. It's good to know you're there.

Ralph said...

Mary, thank you for that admonition--it's such good advice. It's hell living through the uncertainty, and also watching things unravel, but we must keep the possibility for good fortune in mind. Ya never know.....

Ralph said...

Ravel, let's just hope we've reached the worst. Thanks, ami.