Monday, December 8, 2014

Link of the Week

“There are stories — legends, really — of the “steady job.” Old-timers gather graduates around the flickering light of a computer monitor and tell stories of how the company used to be, back when a job was for life, not just for the business cycle. … The graduates snicker. A steady job! They’ve never heard of such a thing.”  ― Max Barry, Company

While this Link of the Week is generally about the potential perils of a prolonged collapse in oil prices, what I found valuable was the author’s personal anecdote of getting caught in the shake-out of the oil industry in the 80’s.  While I’m not 100% certain this collapse in oil prices will be prolonged enough to create this kind of disruption, I DO expect that we will have some kind of crisis in the next few years that will create this level of economic disruption in many peoples’ lives.  The trigger event could be almost anything, but ultimately it’s not that important ‘what’ causes it, only that the fragility and instability of our financial systems and economic infrastructure makes a significant disruption inevitable.  Work to increase your resilience and self-sufficiency so you don’t have to be one of the unfortunates caught unprepared without savings and a backup plan. 

"In a casual conversion with family the door was opened to me as to move to Texas and work for my Uncle who owned a business primarily focused on the oil business. i.e., welders, riggers, etc. The promises of a real change and all it entailed finally moved me past the point of inertia to finally saying, “Screw it, Why not.” And I made the arrangement to leave just weeks later. (the operative word there is “weeks.” Keep that in mind)
When I arrived it appeared to be everything they expressed it to be. However, within a few weeks of my arriving you could sense a shift in the air. The phones at the office went from ringing almost on cue to near dead silence.
Within about 8 weeks of my arrival my Uncle’s business went from all the appearances of wealthy oil business owner to a near solo operation on the brink of bankruptcy daily.

So bad did it get, so fast, that I was asked to find employment elsewhere if I was to stay. They themselves along with everyone else in the “oil business” at that time were in the same straits. And it wasn’t getting better. As a matter of fact, is was growing exponentially worse for many of them by the day, let alone week.

In an effort to find work for the first time in my life I stood outside an oil refinery with hundreds (yes hundreds) of other people in the same straights I was, filling out employment applications about every 1/2 hour as they would call looking for a person to fill a certain position.

Over a loudspeaker you would hear: “Accepting now for 3 welding positions” and anyone who ever seen a welder let alone worked with one would rush to the office trailer and fill out an application listing anything remotely to do with a welder hoping (and some praying) it would be enough to get to the next step – a 10 minute interview for a yay – nay vote.

No applications were reused. Need a welder – fill out an app. Need a janitor – fill out another. Rinse repeat every single time – even for the same position if it came up more than once during the day.

There were husband and wife welding teams, same for electricians, cooks, you name, for everyone suddenly was unemployed and they would take anything. I did this for a week – 8 hours a day, it was one of the most demoralizing times in my life. And just in-case one forgot – less than just 90 days prior, it seemed like Dallas was the new OZ. Now 90 days later I was feeling like I was a pariah both to myself as well as my relatives.
Finally, within less than 4 months since arriving I was called into a meeting with my Aunt and Uncle and was informed I needed to move out and find my own place to live. (they had a beautiful huge ranch styled home where they gave me for all intents and purposes my own apt.) The reason why I had to leave? They were going to lose it. They were just about to lose their business, and it wasn’t long for the house would be next. There was no way they were going to able to keep themselves afloat if things kept up the way it was going and this was my only “heads up” on just how bad things had turned. I was stunned."

Read the rest of the article at here.

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