Monday, January 2, 2012

Responsibility, What's You Policy?

When I was a kid, my Dad worked a lot.  He worked a regular full time job for 35 years.  Frequently, he had side jobs too.  He is retired now, but was an electrician by trade.  I remember he used to string the electrical wiring in new construction houses.  Occasionally he would take me along, even thought I doubt I was much help.

We had a neighbor who was building and selling some kind of machine in his basement.  My dad went and wired all the control units for them.  

Another thing I remember was he attended college while he was working.  He earned an Associates degree at night.  I remember him taking a long time to get through that, but he did.

He also worked most every Saturday at his regular job so he could get overtime.  Except for a short time when he was recovering from a pretty serious motorcycle accident, my dad was always at work.  He never had a period of unemployment, and certainly not one that is over 3 months long like I am in right now.

Unless something unforeseen happens, on January 16, I will have been unemployed for 4 months.  That is a long time.  

Now I have told you before T is pushing me to go back to school, earn my masters degree and become a Physician Assistant.  It is a good, stable, high paying job in health care is just the thing I need to ensure a secure future for me and my family for the rest of my life.

The only catch is, and I have written about this before, is that I am 43 and a father of 4 minor children.  I have a house and bills that need to get paid.  School will take at least 3.5 years and I am not completely sure how I will support myself, let alone the kids, for all that time.  

Now I have continued to send out resumes (I have to to keep receiving unemployment benefits).  I have had several interviews but no job offers.  At this point I am thinking I really don't have any choice.  No one is beating my door down to hire me.  Every day I go without a job will make it that much harder to get a job.  So the clear and logical course of action is to go to school.  Trust in T and the Almighty, study hard and get is done for a virtual guaranteed payoff at the end. 

So, in the the long run, it really is the responsible thing to do.  Go to school, secure my future.

I am ready to start.   I even told T this afternoon I am really looking forward to the start of classes.

Classes start on Monday and I am going to campus to buy my books on tomorrow morning.


I got a call from a large supermarket chain this afternoon.  They want to have a phone interview tomorrow for a job I applied for several weeks ago.  The job is a step below the job I had when I got laid off, but it's still a good job, paying pretty well, but less than what I was making before.  I am well qualified for this job, maybe even overqualified because of my 15 years of experience.

I feel like I have to interview for the job.  I feel like if I don't I will not be doing the responsible thing.  The problem is that if I am offered a job, I have to take it.  If I decline it, I will lose my unemployment benefits, without which, I cannot afford to go to school.  If I take the job, I would not be able to go to school at the same time.

I could make a good living at this job and because of the size of the company, I am sure I could regain the level I had before.  That sounds like a good thing... until I get laid off again.  T points out the question, what happens if I get laid off again?  I could be 50.  Too late to go back to school.  Maybe too old to get another job.  Then I'd really be up Shit Creek. 

Keeping in mind a job offer is by no means certain, what is the responsible thing to do?

Option A:  Take a job with a good company that will provide for my short term needs and may or may not be there for the long term.

Option B: Go to school.  It would be a significant financial hardship for me and my family for almost 4 years.  It would mean burning through my retirement saving and taking on a mountain of student loan debt.  When school is finished, however, I have a guaranteed  job.  A high demand, high paying, job.  Paying more than the job I was laid off from.  I would have enough money to repay the loans, replenish my retirement account and ensure a secure future.  Also as I got older, I could still make good money working part time or per diem.

T says I need to make a choice and stick to it.

What is the responsible choice?


T said...

The responsible choice is to make a choice and stick with it. There is no perfect answer.

You and your kids will not starve or be without clothing. That is good enough in difficult situations. A humble life will make them appreciate what life has to offer. To me, you have done a good job, and their lives are far from being humble. They deserve love, and you have and will continue to give them a lot of love. And love doesn't have to be materialistic.

To me, and to me only, you will be able to take care of your family better when you take care of yourself. By that, I mean you need to chose a direction for yourself and accept it, be at peace with it, and work on it. You need to stop feeling like you are a failure or like you are not supporting your family.

Losing your job doesn't make you a failure. Not spending a lot of money for your kids doesn't make you less of a father. Do you get that?

You are such a devoted and loving father. You have a very wonderful heart. God will not overlook you.

My family and I had been poor for so long, but that is how I became the person I am now, who you love (very much?)...:). There is no sin in being poor. Again, I promise you, you will never be homeless.

Life is difficult enough as it is. Don't make it worse by feeling bad about something you can't change.

I love you and am very proud of you.

TwoLives said...

More and more often I am reading about young people who graduate with Bachelor degrees with mountains of debt. To make matters worse, they can't find career work so they earn minimum wage doing unfulfilling jobs. I've also read about trade school scams where the government guarantees the loans and the students can't afford the school but they go anyway. Same scenario: mountains of debt, low paying work. This time the debt is guaranteed by the government. Knowing all this, I'm somewhat skeptical about a four year period with no earnings and more debt. How does the total cost of that compare to 15 years of higher earnings? I don't know the answer but I would definitely do the math.

A middle option might be night school for an MBA. It would be slow and draining but it's also a safe choice.

Would K and AJ be able to support the kids if you are in school? That would be a huge help, perhaps making school the better choice.

It's a difficult decision, one that you don't have to make until you are offered a job.

Whichever option you choose, it will all work out. The kids will have food, clothing and shelter. So will you.

Biki said...

If your retirement savings is robust enough to handle paying for the schooling, and enough to live off of, I'd chose the schooling. The medical field is the only one not currently shrinking but expanding.

Sell the house, buy something small and cheaper and head off to school.

If your kids only love you because you buy them nice things? Then Dad you did a terrible job of fathering these kids, which I cant believe. Listen to T on this one. If the kids cant have the newest games, the priciest sneaker, oh well. As long as they are fed, dressed and have a safe and warm home to live in, with everyone who loves them, what more could they ask for.

Growing up poor isnt the end of the world, growing up without love is, and without a doubt your children are LOVED!

Get off the fence and make a decision before your abilty to chose is taken from you.

Java said...

It is hard to choose between good option A and good option B. There isn't an empirically correct choice. However, when you decide which path to take, you can make it the right choice for you.

Consider with each scenario, in 3 or 4 years will you possibly regret not choosing the other?

Of course the job hasn't been offered yet, so that may be counting chickens before they're hatched. But considering these two possibilities, what will give you the most satisfaction? What do you really _want_ to do?

Uncutplus said...

As a retired healthcare professional, I would recommend Option A. Why, you ask? Healthcare is changing rapidly and becoming more challenging. The government (Medicare) will continue to direct the future in healthcare that has already started. In 4 or 5 years, who knows what it will be like, and I would not like to be almost 50 with a lot of school debt and the loss of my saved retirement benefits.

If offered the job in a field that you already know, I think you should take it, even if there is a slight step downward. If the supermarket is well managed and large, there will be plenty of room for advancement. I think you should stick with what you already know with some assurance for the future, rather than take on enormous risks that might not even work out for you in the future. The supermarket is hiring in these bad times should give you some assurance that it has plans for the future. PA-C's seem like a glamorous high paying job with the ability to be very helpful to everyone. The truth is that they have become the grunt workers for overworked and underpaid physicians, who are looking to unload some of their burdens, and I believe this situation will only get worse.

Best of luck for your future, whatever that may be. I know that you love T, but don't be blinded by his bias towards the PA-C. By the way the education and studying will be grueling, since you don't already have a background in healthcare.