It is summer 2009, and Mr. T, Penny and I are waiting in line for three hours to get into a job fair in the Seattle area. We finally get inside and take a look around at our options: the military, Tupperware, Mary Kay. At this moment, we realize this is some strange, historic time through which we’re living. It was still way too early for anyone official to admit it was actually a recession, and “The Great Recession” didn’t become a thing until awhile later. But now, when you say “The Great Recession,” I’m right back in that job fair deciding whether to talk to Tupperware or head home for Penny’s nap.
Mr. T graduated in December of 2008. Without any job offers on the table, we moved into my family’s beach house on the Oregon coast. Since all of our family is from the Northwest, we assumed we would be there for maybe a month while Mr. T found work in the tech industry. At the very beginning of January 2009, all the major tech companies laid off hundreds. Immediately, Mr. T was competing for the very same entry level jobs as ten and twenty year industry veterans. Things were getting bleak. Mr. T and I spent full time looking for jobs. I would spend hours finding job postings and working on my master’s thesis. Mr. T would spend his hours refining resumes and cover letters and sending them all over the place.
I think about this time in our lives a lot now that it’s over five years in our past. Mr. T and I have always been project people. We always have something brewing, but we also sought stability for our family. We didn’t know what we were doing as parents. The Great Recession led to a large increase in entrepreneurial activity nationwide, but we didn’t even discuss the possibility of trying to do our own thing. We had a one-year-old, no experience, very little money, and it all seemed too risky. I’m also not saying that we should have done our own thing then. Mr. T ended up with a very stable job and our Alaskan adventure began. But What If? What if that happened now? What if we found ourselves in that job fair with a paid off house and enough savings to live off interest? There is no question in my mind that we would have stopped spending hours looking for jobs and writing cover letters and spent a whole lot more time working on what WE wanted to do. That’s our motivation. Mr. T doesn’t hate the daily grind (he has every other Monday off and six weeks of vacation, so sometimes he feels like he doesn’t work that much anyway!). He likes what he does. But we also don’t want to find ourselves stuck in the stable job because it’s stable.
We did spend a great deal of time during those ten months of unemployment working for my crazy entrepreneurial uncle selling stuff on ebay. But that’s a story for another day…