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Part of the Short Stories Series.

The Unemployed -- 11/02/08

They didn't see the notice coming. They had been working together for many years, starting when the company was just beginning and watched it grow profitable and productive.

Each day the workers arrived at their employer's business. The owner greeted them with a friendly smile and was always eager to hear of any family news during the breaks during the day. This company was a favorite place to work in the community that was a great place to live and raise families.

Unknown to all of them was the unforeseen economic forces brewing in banks and mortgage companies in far away cities and states. Decades earlier the government issued policies that encouraged the financing of homes to borrowers with other than than standard credit ratings.

In time the outgrowth of those policies and their derivatives would surface and come due. The amount owed by risky borrowers exceeded the value of the underlying collateral or plummeting equity as holdings failed on balance sheets in those far away banks and now defunct mortgage companies. The defaults caused a wave of foreclosure and the drying up of good loans.

That is when bad news knocked on the door of the company run by the friendly owner who had great employees in the wonderful town, home to so many families that had not contributed to the downfall of bad government policies. First the local bank informed the friendly business owner that they had no money to lend in the short term loans that the owner company needed to function. The owner's corporate reserves were being drained as he attempted to cover the shortfall to keep the business operating. But the inevitable end came and now the employees needed to know.

The owner called a meeting that last day of operations. Sadly the situation was explained and the discussion to close the firm was announced. The workers would be paid through the end of the month, their health insurance covered for two months further. Job letter recommendations and referrals would be provided to all who needed them.

The employees reluctantly accepted the reality. They knew the owner had done all that could be done. No fault was attributed to the owner's leadership, they knew it was outside forces beyond control that destroyed the business and now their own livelihood.

Each employee now had to search their own heart and mind for how to convey the loss to their families. With the holidays approaching it was going to be a harder winter and maybe spring too. At least they had each other and that is what is the most important resource they knew they could depend upon in the uncertain time ahead.


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