The Life And Times Of A Traveller

Another Fine Mess

Originally published December 18 2011

Murder Case

Back in the late 50's and through the 60's, when I was a little younger than today, one of my favourite TV shows was Laurel & Hardy. They made famous a highly misquoted saying, spoken by Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel - "Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!" in their 1930 film The Laurel-Hardy Mystery Case. It was usually Oliver who created the mess in the first place, but he would always blame Stanley.

I know that I have always said it as - "Well Stanley, here's another fine mess you've gotten us into!" That's probably the most common variation, and stems from their 1930 film titled Another Fine Mess.

However you say it, the meaning is the same.

(Just as an aside, the exclamation D'oh! was first uttered in many of the Laurel & Hardy films by Scottish actor James Finlayson. What is old, becomes new again!)

Getting back to my main theme, another fine mess, I want to talk about my current situation, how I got myself into it, why I'm in it, and issue a warning to anyone else contemplating following my steps into the abyss.

Back in 2006 (which sure seems like 'the old days' now), my wife and I were both gainfully employed in reasonably secure full-time jobs that we enjoyed. For 17 years, we had been living in a "wonderful" old 1920's 2-story red brick house where we had raised our children and were close to family and friends. (I put "wonderful" in quotations because anyone who has owned one of these knows how much work it is to keep up!) We should still be there.

In late 2005, my very talented brother decided (along with some other magnificent musicians) to launch a Pink Floyd tribute band and tour around western Canada playing in theatres. The legacy of this project can be seen on the All In All It's Just... website (which I designed and built, btw). I was the Manager of all things, from bookings to bookkeeping.

I was very excited about the project and wanted to be part of it, so in May 2006 we left our jobs, packed up our worldly goods, and moved lock-stock-and-barrel to the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island where my brother lived. The project was an artistic success, if not a monetary success. We had some great times and developed some lasting memories.

My wife had been hired by a non-profit organization in late 2006 and absolutely loved her job. She had made many friends through her employment and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was employed at a company for 2 years and, while enjoying the job and my co-workers immensely, I had to leave in late 2009 because of: 1) stress caused by dysfunctional management, and 2) a head injury I suffered while on that job, an injury that I did not recognize as serious at the time, but which impaired my thought processes, unbeknownst to me. In spite of attending a 3 month Federally sponsored job-hunt training program in early 2010, I was unable to find any further employment.

In early summer 2011, my wife was unfairly and callously released from her position because of a dysfunctional Board Of Directors. All of her co-workers and associated colleagues at other organizations were outraged by this action, but the deed was done and there was no going back. Through various government-funded job search organizations, she began investigating employment openings in the same general field, but was told not to expect to find one any earlier than perhaps a year and a half in that geographical area.

We had both become disenchanted with the general atmosphere and cultural disposition of the people, which was pervasive in the Comox Valley. (As my wife remarked many times, the people in the Valley were 'dfferent'. You can take from that what you wish.) I discussed moving out of the Comox Valley with her, and the sum of it was: she didn't really want to leave, but would; she didn't want to move elsewhere on the Island; nowhere else in BC met her liking; she didn't want to settle in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba; so that left Ontario. She didn't want to return to our hometown of Orillia because she believed that it had degenerated over the years (it has); she didn't want to move to a big city; so we finally settled on Alliston, because she had a good friend there and we both thought employment prospects were good.

So, once again, we packed up all our worldly goods and travelled 4,500 KMs overland to Alliston. For some reason, my wife had the idea that Alliston was a larger center with all the amenities. She never mentioned this to me, so I was never able to correct her. After staying there for a couple of weeks with her friend, she decided that she didn't want to live in Alliston because it was too small and there wasn't any public transit to get around. After further discussion, we decided that Barrie held the best prospects for us, as it was billed as one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and was purportedly "booming".

Not quite.

After we had already leased a place to live in Barrie, and before we had even physically moved into Barrie, the story broke that in fact Barrie had the highest official unemployment rate in the country at 11.7%. Wonderful. Just, wonderful. And this has born out to be truthful. After literally months of scouring job sites, emailing resumes, faxing resumes, dropping off resumes at various locations, uploading resumes to various online employment sites, joining employment agencies, going to courses, obtaining or upgrading licenses and certificates, our job hunt has been a complete failure. Not even a nibble. Not even a call back for a first interview. Nada. Nothing. My wife is despondent and her spirit is broken.

Now, time has run out, along with our cash. Every minute of every day now, my wife mutters to herself; "Well Randy, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into!"

Yup. I done did it this time. We're screwed.

So, what lessons can I provide to others? Well, these are them, as I see it:

  • There is high unemployment out there, much MUCH higher than what the "official government statistics" state.
  • Remember that this is not the same economic/employment world as it was prior to 2008. Profits are up, but employers are realizing that they can get higher profits without hiring additional personnel. They are not hiring.
  • Do not believe that Ontario is the economic engine of the country and that there are jobs for the asking, because it is not and there are not.
  • Politicians (Governments) do not care about you.
  • If you are a Boomer looking for a job in this current economic/employment malaise, you will most likely not get hired. Most businesses/organizations are owned or managed by Gen X’ers and staffed with Millennials. They will not hire you.
  • The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence (or the country). I'm sure most of you have already learned this lesson, one way or the other.
  • If you suffer a head injury of any significance, go to a doctor and demand a full diagnosis and treatment plan. Tell your significant other that, if you suffer a head injury and don't seem to be thinking straight, they should insist that you go to a doctor, even if you don't believe anything is wrong.
  • If you know someone who is unemployed and looking for a job, actively become involved. Give them suggestions, ask around for them, ask your friends for them, ask your bosses for them. Don’t just lay back and do nothing, using the excuse that it’s none of your business and they'll take care of themselves. You need to care about others.

I hope that with this missive I am able to prevent even one person from making similar mistakes/misjudgments that I have made. I hope that it isn't all for naught.

You all take care of yourselves, and remember to care about others. They need you. My wife and I will continue our struggles and end up somewhere, together or apart. Life will go on.

May the Good Faerie spread bippy dust on your dreams.

Randall Hawes

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