Night Drives and Birds with Four Legs, or, How to Cope with Everybody Getting Laid Off
By Sara Billups
Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I found out that we were in a recession when I was a kid in 1988 because Heather on my bowling league said so. We were eating fried cheese sticks between frames when she whispered, “Did you hear?” I thought she was going to tell me about Burke and Kim making out behind the vending machines again. “We’re in a recession!” she squeaked. “Yeah, my dad said something about that,” I said dryly, dipping my cheese stick into a side of marinara.

Everybody was talking about layoffs in the café I sat in at lunch today, and this time I was all ears. In fact, I may be far too up-to-date on the situation. It’s sadly cathartic I suppose, to tick off statistics if you’re not a part of the number. “Starbucks layed off 6,700 people, and Boeing’s cutting 10,000 jobs,” a balding business-casual huffed to his friend at the table next to me.

Phrases including “all bets are off,” “completely wiped out,” and “it’s a sign of the times” followed. As a casual listener, it’s completely unnerving to hear this sort of banter. My husband and I both work for small companies and, while ready for anything, we’re hedging our bets that we’re in the best places we can be right now. And really, I can only ponder the not yet so much before I start drawing birds with four legs or graphs of imaginary weather trends. It’s not that I’m especially out of touch. Just coping.

In the car last night, we were listening to M83, to the song Graveyard Girl from the Saturdays=Youth album. A girl has this little monologue around the bridge and says, “Waiting for somebody to love me. Waiting for somebody to kiss me. I’m only fifteen years old, and I feel it’s already too late to live. Don’t you?” It’s so tender, almost too tender, but there’s this lovely resolve. The music becomes hazy and endless, and then you feel fresh, teenaged hope.

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Sara Billups writes the blog Weatherspoon, a diary of living alongside the weather in the Great Northwest.

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2 Responses to “Night Drives and Birds with Four Legs, or, How to Cope with Everybody Getting Laid Off”

  1. Vince Wagner Says:

    I registered just because I really wanted to comment on your short essay here.

    1) The line about the sad catharisis in naming off statistics that don’t directly affect the speaker, that is a very nice line.

    2) I’m not very familiar with M83, but it does manage to give a golden wash to anything I think about fromt the little I have heard from them. Just mentioning the band name made that last paragraph feel warm to me.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Sara Billups Says:

    Many thanks for your kind comment, Vince!

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