Editor’s note: This week, Reuters Opinion is publishing five excerpts – one each day – from D.W. Gibson’s new book, Not Working, an oral history of the recession. Gibson spent months traveling across America talking to people who had been laid off.
Today’s entry is Jessica Smith’s. Jessica, 32, was born and raised in Alabama. After stints in other states (New York and Virginia) and another country (Sweden), she moved back to Alabama in 2010 with her fiancé, Nick, and this is where they’ve made a home with their newborn.
Jessica has two master’s degrees. She has written for several years, mostly poetry, with some significant publications, but she’s on hiatus these days: “I have a job and a kid, and it’s just not going to happen.” Recently she was hired as a librarian at a nearby private boarding school.
It’s in Buffalo where her story of unemployment – and underemployment – begins. That’s where she and Nick were both working at a high-profile classical music organization. She was also an adjunct professor at the state university.
I received a letter that said I wouldn’t be able to adjunct in the spring. I got that letter, and then around Thanksgiving, I was laid off from the — Orchestra for the fourth time since I’d been working there. They just kept laying people off because they didn’t have enough money to pay them. Basically, they can’t make payroll, so you get laid off for two weeks. It was really stressful.