Jerry Wolters of Bellevue, Wash. wrote to say he's been out of work since November, 2008 and that his unemployment benefits will run out next month. "I'm a Vietnam-era Vet and have always been a responsible citizen and homeowner," he wrote. "I paid child support for 15 years and all taxes like clockwork for 41 years but I can't find work in the Seattle market in these conditions." The Huffington Post gave him a call to find out more.
I'm 58 years old now. I was working in the Seattle area. I have many years of experience in radiology; I started working as technologist in the 1970s after I came out of Cal State. I work in a very esoteric and wonderful field that enabled me to feel as if I made a difference.
I got divorced in 2004 and moved to Seattle from Montana. I couldn't get a day shift job. I was surprised to find that I was only offered weekend hours. I would've had to have somebody die to give me a day shift, so that puts you in kind of a ghoulish position.
Do you have health insurance?
I have no benefits. I have a history of kidney stones, but other than that I'm blessed. I'm very healthy. I watch my weight, I walk as much as I can. I pay for only my blood pressure medication and I've got that on a generic prescription. I've just been lucky.
How long have you been on unemployment benefits?
I've been living on that since November. You get an initial 26 weeks, and because of additional funding you get another 13. In July or August I'm done. I might make it to September. July 15th will be the decision: If I can't continue to pay my mortgage, my homeowner's association dues. that will be a real disgrace, to have to sacrifice my FICO score, my good credit, my reputation, my life.
Do you consider yourself middle class?
I always have felt like a mid-level health professional, that I was in the lower middle class. I don't want to get overly dramatic, but at my age and condition, you begin to wonder what it's all about. Why do you go on? Why do you persist? It's real.
Yesterday I was sending resumes to Reno, to Los Angeles. I'll go wherever I can go to survive in the future. It may come down to me having to take a job in some other industry.
When you wrote in, you wrote that you've spent all your savings and equity for retirement and could soon be living in your car. But, you said, "the only good thing is that I will have a classy address living in my old Porsche." Why not sell the car?
I have an insurance policy on the Porsche that will make my payments in the event of my unemployment or disability...so that if I have to resort to my Porsche to live in, it will be rent free. As long as I don't move it.
Think it will come to that?
I sure hope not because a Porsche is awfully small. You've got very little trunk space for your shopping cart stuff.
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