Not Working

The Pulse of the American Depression

Kelin Felis

Columbus, Georgia

In February of 2009 I was laid off from Cumulus Broadcasting in Youngstown, Ohio. I was working as a full-time radio DJ and after several staff cuts had been made the previous month, I was let go. It happened first thing in the morning when I got to work. The operations manager called me into the conference room and as I walked in, I saw our general manager there as well. They sat me down and began to explain how the company had not had much money coming in lately. They were not selling enough commercial air time and just as they had cut interns and part timers, I too was being let go. My managers assured me that it was not due to my performance and that they hoped I would be coming back once sales picked up and the company started doing better financially. I couldn’t think of anything to say to them. I just started crying. I cried so hard I could hardly speak. Once the managers left, my co-workers came in crying as well and hugged me. I then gathered my things and went home.

It’s hard to imagine how being laid off feels unless you have experienced it. I had just moved out of my mother’s house and signed a lease for my own apartment weeks before, and I knew I would have to break that lease. I knew I had no other jobs lined up. I started at the radio station in college as an intern, was hired as a part timer, and after a couple years had finally made full time. Being a radio DJ was all I ever wanted to be and I had felt so lucky to get to work in my field of choice. But that was gone. My dreams and goals that I had worked for and remianed so patient for had been suddenly wiped away.

Fear set in as I wondered how I was going to pay my bills. I knew it was going to cost hundreds of dollars to leave my apartment, plus make my car payment, cell phone payment, buy gas, etc. I had no idea how I was going to keep money coming in. I knew receiving unemployment benifits was an option but I had never done that before. I didn’t even know where to start. Luckily, I was dating a wonderful man who is now my husband. He lived in Georgia at the time and we had always talked about me moving down there to be with him. So I broke my lease, packed up my things, and moved south with sixty dollars to my name. I lived with him and he helped me get back on my feet.