I don't want to be perfect, just better...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Sallie Mae or The Long Year

My Sallie Mae loans have come out of forbearance and the first payment is due January 8. I am actually glad to be paying it. I can’t believe it has been a whole year today since I lost my old job. In February, March and April I was so discouraged, I was sure that I wouldn’t make it through; that I would ever find another job. I was convinced that I would have to go back to waiting tables and bartending for my full time income.

Losing my job was devastating to me for several reasons. I went back to college at age 26 (I went when I was 17 for a year) with two kids, no familial support, in a strange town. I had to rely on my wits, various social programs, blind faith and a drive to never have to wait tables or work in a casino again.

When I finished my Bachelor’s I was all gung ho thinking plum job offers would be rolling in, and I could have my pick of assignments. Actually for me, the only paying offer I received was to manage a three states away Waffle House. This was based more on me having eight years of restaurant experience, than on my degree. I spent two days crying because I was sure that I deserved more than to work in a damn restaurant again. I had just spent three years studying Political Science, pre-law, and sociology and the only serious offer I had was the Waffle House?!?

I couldn’t believe my luck. I kept applying everywhere and for anything that wouldn’t send me back to the restaurants that I was trying to escape. I got nothing, I barely got interviews. I decided maybe I needed a new venue that New Orleans wasn’t big enough for me. Katrina decided it for me for sure.

Unfortunately where I ended up was no better in terms of job prospects. Eight months I toiled away working dead end job after dead end job in retail and as a customer service representative. Never making enough to cover the all the bills in the same month, I was always just short even when working two jobs at certain points. It was during this time I begin reading PF books, surfing the net and watching anything I could on eliminating debt.

So when I took the chance to move to DC, I had little faith in finding a job that would pay me well after I adjusted for the cost of living. My first job in the DC area was basically a customer service rep but at almost three times the pay I had received before. It also had benefits – medical, dental, vision and a 401K. At the previous rep job I had to work there eighteen months before I received half of those perks that I got from day one at the new job.

My next job almost doubled my salary again. I did the math once I started my previous job I was making a little over four and a half times my hourly salary. This convinced me that I was right in going back to school. I paid Sallie Mae grudgingly though. I didn’t appreciate the new opportunities my degree had brought to me. Then it was all taken away from me. I was very close to spiraling into a depression I made not have been able to climb out of without the assistance of drugs and counseling.

I know now especially as I look back over the last year and my struggle to find full time employment while working half dozen temp jobs that I really cannot hate Sallie Mae.

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