For many years my family and I would spend a week together at the beach. I remember these times fondly and these memories are like milestones on my journey in life. This year, since I am facing the very real possibility of losing my job due to a company merger, I did not plan on keeping the tradition. However, I decided not to punish myself and instead planned a vacation in the off–season. I look forward to making more memories with my wife, son, and my daughter, son–in–law and new grandson.
I grew up as part of the working class and did not really join the middle class until I was in my thirties. What this meant was that, with both my wife and I working, we could afford a mortgage on a small house and could each have a car, always driven till it died, crashed, or was passed down with high mileage. Oh yes, it also meant one week of vacation a year.
My wife was always worried that we couldn’t afford our vacation. Therefore, I had to convince her to go. This usually meant that by the time we made our arrangements all of the good rentals were taken. One year, when I had given up searching, my twelve year old son found us a B & B on the internet. It was within walking distance to the beach and we had such fun flying kites. But, it was one big room in an old Victorian mansion with no air conditioning, no TV, and, a shared bathroom down the hall. The Victorian furnishings reminded us of the Addams family and we were sure that the proprietor had murdered his wife. He didn’t seem like the type to be into antiques and frills. He was more of a surfer type. And he kept coming up from the basement whenever we were in the lobby. When I casually commended him on his flair for decorating he replied, oh, that’s my wife. Hmm… we never saw a wife, that is, until we checked out.
I never had a proper vacation growing up. Maybe this is why my own family’s tradition means so much to me. As a child my vacation was to go to my aunt’s house on Long Island for a weekend. We would get up before sunrise, I believe about three AM. This was to avoid traffic, I guess. In the days before the expressway you could only take the parkway into Nassau County and from there it was local roads all the way to the fork at Riverhead. We kids were supposed to sleep, but I never did. I busied myself drawing pictures and taking in the scenery. I imagined what it would be like to live in one of the tall new apartment buildings I saw in Queens.
Anyway, I suppose I could be bitter about losing my job while I still have a family to support and not nearly enough money saved to retire, while I am still so sharp and have so much to contribute to the workforce. Instead, I am upset that my son’s generation, a much maligned generation, yet one more educated, more technologically skilled, and frankly more prepared for the workforce than my own, is getting the shaft. He and his cohorts graduated college at the same time that we experienced the greatest financial reverse since the great depression.
The, for lack of a better term, millennials, are caught in a catch 22. They are probably the first generation facing a job market that expects them to have a job before their first job. Yes, you heard right, a job before their first job. In the 1980’s I got my first decent job while going to school at night – horror of horrors, I only had a high school diploma. I had no experience doing anything productive; I just wore a suit and looked the part. This was a time when you could become a stockbroker with a high school education. Now, if you have a master’s degree in a STEM discipline they want three years’ experience doing the job you are applying for. I ask you, if you had experience plus an advanced degree why would you apply for an entry-level job?
But, I digress. This may well be my final vacation. I would love to continue the tradition but I might be too busy figuring out how to sell my house, find a place to live that I can afford with no income, find affordable health insurance, keep my old clunker running when it’s leaking oil, and keep my sanity in a world that gets more and more insane by the minute.