[The Great Recession and You] Dr. Seuss, Careers, and a Slog by the Bay

When the rain started right before we stepped on the ferry boat tonight to take us from central Hong Kong to Kowloon, there was little idea how much and how hard the storm would hit us. While the thought of watching the nightly laser light show from the harbor seemed a good idea, spending time on a rocking boat during a subtropical squall changed any fantasies quickly into the reality of two adults and one seven year old child trying to figure out if any of us knew how to say “rescue” and “life preserver” in Mandarin or Cantonese.

Having risked one rocky boat ride across the harbor, none of the pack wanted to double up on the ride home. Rather we stood in a thinly covered taxi queue at the Star Ferry station while the rain poured sideways, fed by an occasional gust to dismantle an umbrella or two, to catch a cab to the MTR line to get back the other side of the bay. Now soaked like rats, complete with water squishing in shoes, we caught the train over, only to replay the cab line wait in the still gusting pouring rain. Home at last after 2  hours of getting soaked, a hot shower behind us, warmth and comfort restored, we could a least relax.

For many folks, the Great Recession of 2008-2009 is a series of events not unlike the boat adventure: it’s a slog .

Job hunting, job changing, job holding, and career tracking are a series of events where water gets dumped at every turn. When you don’t think anything more can happen, it does – and generally not so nicely.

But like any slog, the options are to park yourself somewhere and hope the squall passes or to move forward and   to persevere. One foot forward, plant, wait, get wet, followed by another foot forward, repeating the sequence once again.

With a slog, there is no “let’s call it a night” and head on home: the path to home is that slog. The other option for us, at least this night, was to stand under some cover and wait things out. Sometimes not a bad strategy, but when the rain and wind blows for 4 hours straight, and your 7 year old son had that bedtime look 30 minutes ago, 4 hours is a long, long, standing wait.

Dr. Seuss in Oh The Places You’ll Go (online game here )  talks about this type of slog as well:

“But on you will go
though the weather be foul.
On you will go
though your enemies prowl.
On you will go
Though the Hakken-Kraks howl.”

And like the like from a Joni Mitchell song, a little heart and humor and humility lightened up our heavy load: the  slog ended with that hot shower.

As posted elsewhere (Seven Job Tips from the Last Four Recessions ), the same will be true for many folks struggling through these challenging times, at some point this recession ends. Things will likely be different, some people’s jobs will have gone away forever and they’ll need to find a new calling and a new job.  But eventually, this slog for many if not most people will end.