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Unemployed at 62, his plight may be a sign of the times (Barf alert!)
bostonherald ^ | 3-11-03 | Margery Eagan

Posted on 03/11/2003 11:40:19 AM PST by Jimmyclyde

Unemployed at 62, his plight may be a sign of the times

by Margery Eagan Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Here in the living room of what feels like a cozy English country cottage - china-blue walls, hand-painted antique chairs, latticed windows and fine woods - it's hard to believe the once-comfortable occupants are down to their last $2,500.

Not enough to pay their $2,000 monthly rent and $1,200 health insurance, never mind food or heat or gas.

But that's the very scary story of North Easton couple Dick Wilcox, 62, and his wife, Michele, 56. Dick was laid off from his $65,000, mid-level insurance company job a year ago. He cannot afford to retire.

And as a nation obsesses over war, its politicians seeming to forget the crushing effects of a jittery economy, Dick Wilcox has joined the unenviable ranks of older, unemployed, white-collar workers who can't find another decent job.

``It's like all it takes,'' Dick Wilcox said yesterday, ``is one crack in the system and you can go from having a really good lifestyle to being literally homeless.''

To prevent that is why he's spent three months now, morning after frigid morning, at busy Canton intersections. He wears fat mittens and a hooded parka over a neat suit and tie. And like an upscale version of your average street corner beggar, lifelong, middle-class taxpayer Dick Wilcox stands with a mix of humiliation, desperation and defiance behind the 4-by-6-foot plywood sign he made in his basement. And he begs, too.

``I NEED A JOB. 508-238-3226.'' That's what his sign reads in big black letters. ``36 Yrs. Exper. Insur/Mngmnt.''

Dick Wilcox has dropped off hundreds of resumes at companies and office parks. He's sent out hundreds more online. He's had two interviews and not a single job offer near the $50,000 he needs.

Now his severance, unemployment, modest savings and pension are almost gone. Michele Wilcox, who raised three children and supplemented Dick's income with a home crochet business, brought in just $9,000 this year. Her small business is yet another victim, it appears, of a shrinking economy.

A year ago, the couple planned to help an infertile daughter finance an expensive overseas adoption. They'd hoped to replace a 12-year-old car. Now, even if both find $10-an-hour jobs tomorrow, they're on the brink of losing their home.

Dick Wilcox, who has a can-do, take-charge aura about him - and unique ideas on making older workers more attractive - says he's still a bit stunned by it all. ``When I first lost my job I said, `Well, it's not the end of the world. I'll go out and find something else . . .' I never expected . . . this.''

Here is the good and bad news. Last week, his story made the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Since then he's had hundreds of phone calls, mostly from other older laid-off workers who are discouraged, too, ``and practically crying on the phone,'' he says. ``Out of work nine months, 14 months. Unbelievable, terrible stories.''

But he's also had calls from other media outlets, including nationally syndicated radio shows, cable TV's NECN and two of the three big morning network shows: ``Good Morning America'' and ``The Early Show.'' But the morning shows keep delaying him, he says, because of war stories.

Meanwhile, he says, not a single politician has called. ``They'd much rather debate the war than talk about the economy because they don't have any solutions. They just keep promising the economy's going to turn around. . . Now they don't even say it anymore and we've got tens of thousands out of work.''

Although media coverage has led to at least one promising interview offer, Dick Wilcox is taking no chances. He plans to be out again tomorrow morning, the corner of Route 138 and Washington Street, where people have climbed over snowbanks to shake his hand or bring him Dunkin' Donuts. ``One woman tapped me on the shoulder with tears in her eyes. She said, `This is the gutsiest thing I ever saw anybody do.' ''

He says that when he first thought of the sign, he was afraid to tell his wife or children. He was embarrassed, scared he'd seem like a failure, like ``some idiot'' standing in the road.

Yesterday, Michele Wilcox said she'd admired her husband's daring. Yesterday Karen Wilcox, their oldest child, said her father ``had proven us all wrong'' for ever fretting about his sign. She said her father had worked hard all his life and that when she heard him last week on the radio, ``I had tears in my eyes. . . . I'm so proud of him.''

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events
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To: freeper12
It's not that people are making fun of him, per-se. They are using the poster child (HIM) to point out that there's more to it than the story suggests and this is really just a hit piece.

There's more going on than meets the eye in this story. It doesn't wash.
81 posted on 03/11/2003 12:41:47 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: matthew_the_brain
One has to wonder how many lower level people he canned during his time.
82 posted on 03/11/2003 12:43:11 PM PST by cynicom
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To: dfwgator
I've been a mainframe programmer for 20 years, the last nine of which were as a consultant. I was out of work for several months in 2000 and sold some real estate while I waited for the market to come back.

It did, albeit anemically. So far, so good. I have a plan B and a plan C and even a plan D, two of which include moving out of the Seattle area, one of which includes moving outside the country. Heck, maybe they will need some of us to rebuild Iraq...

83 posted on 03/11/2003 12:45:08 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: clamper1797
Ok...let me respond to all this.
I am 36 years old...not some teen ager. I spent 7 years in the US Army, got out after leaving a combat arms unit and going to some REMF outfit, started my life over. I am in High Tech. When I was laid off I was making $82,000 a year. When I realized right away I was not going to get a job quickly, I went and got 2 jobs working alternating shifts on 2 diffrent help desks + a job on the weekends in construction. You said people had lost everything trying to hold on. Hold on for what...some life line???

The bottom line is this...people in this country live in debt when it is not necessary.They live like what they see on the TV. I have an idiot who works for me who makes $40,000 a year...he drives a $46,000 car!!! Just because someone will loan you the money doesn't mean you should borrow it!! Why are people spending their retirement to live when they get laid off??? Oh I know why.....becaue they are too GOOD to work 80+ hours a week until their network of contacts gets rolling and they get back to where they should be!!!!! I just don't get these excuses....maybe that's because I was always taught that excuses are like a$$h&l#@ everybody's got one!!!
84 posted on 03/11/2003 12:47:07 PM PST by Ga Rob ("Consensus is the ABSENCE of Leadership" The Iron Lady)
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It certainly seems like this guy has made a lot of bad financial decisions over the years. Had he had a little financial sense, his situation would be mitigated to the extent where he would be likely have the option to retire comfortably rather than being forced to hit the streets looking for a job.

Renting a four-bedroom home at his age for $2,000 a month (for just him and his wife) is just insane, even if he still had his $62,000 a year job. After taxes, that rent would suck up half his income! No wonder he didn't have anything saved up. My father also lived in the Boston area and he never made more than $40,000 in his life yet he was still able to retire at age 62 just a few years ago. He bought a house in 1968 with a mortgage of $151 a month (which seemed like a lot back then). He paid the house off and sold it upon retirement whereupon he bought a place for cash down in Alabama where he never has to worry again.

This should be a lesson for younger people to make some sound decisions today so that they never had to end up like "that guy." Get out of debt. Buy a home. Live below your means and invest/save the difference. Do it today. It's not too late!

85 posted on 03/11/2003 12:49:25 PM PST by SamAdams76 (California wine tastes better - boycott French wine!)
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To: Jimmyclyde
And as a nation obsesses over war, its politicians seeming to forget the crushing effects of a jittery economy

And my Grandparents were shot by Russian soldiers before they turned 40. Sometimes life is tough.

I think there are a couple things wrong with this article:

1)I think people have lost sight of what REAL tough times are all about. I keep hearing about people losing their jobs in this economy, but I don't know anyone who has lost a job. I don't see masses of starving people who lost their farms in a dust bowl.

2) Dick Wilcox's problem is not unique to this bad economy. But it is very typical for the sales and management business. In the mid-90 I went to a resume workshop sponsored by the state's Employment Development Department. And the majority of people in attendance were middle-aged to near-retirement-aged men who had lost their long held sales or management jobs. They work at a business for so many years. They get used to maintaining a particular lifestyle. And then they stop meeting their quotas or they manage themselves right out of a job.

2) Also, I wonder about Dick Wilcox if at age 62 he still doesn't own his own home, he's stuck paying $2000 a month in rent, and he's run out of his "meager" retirement savings. It sounds like Dick hasn't been very money-wise to start off with. Why is he trying to hold on to a fancy English country cottage that he never owned? If he was concerned about maintaining this lifestyle he should have had more than a meager amount saved up by this time. I just don't feel sorry for the guy. Some people go through life never preparing, never doing without the things they want today.. and when their lack of planning bites them in the butt, they go knocking on the doors of those who did save and who made a habit of forgoing luxury items, and who bought homes that fit comfortably in their budget.

3)What the hell does Margery Eagan think will become of people like poor Mr. Dick Wilcox if and when the terrorists unleash a nuclear or chemical attack in America?

86 posted on 03/11/2003 12:49:41 PM PST by Sally II
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To: Jimmyclyde
If he really wants to get a job instead of media coverage, I suggest he ditch the stupid sign, get dressed up, apply for every insurance opening he can find, and dig in for the long haul on that. It might not be easy or fun (trust me, I dad had to go through this in the late eighties when he wasn't much younger than Mr. Wilcox). He may end up going into another line of work anyway (my dad did, and fortunately, it hasn't worked out badly). At least that way, he's going after jobs instead of expecting them to come to him.
87 posted on 03/11/2003 12:50:33 PM PST by RichInOC (Job hunts suck. Unemployment sucks more.)
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To: clamper1797
Where in the article does it say he had or did not have a retirement fund ... you assume to much

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about this guy a few days ago which had a lot more financial information. He only managed to save $13,000 in a 401(k), most of which has been spent paying that $2,000 rent.

88 posted on 03/11/2003 12:50:48 PM PST by SamAdams76 (California wine tastes better - boycott French wine!)
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To: All
This isn't adding up. How can you lose a home that isn't yours in the first place? $2000 a month rent and $1200 a month health insurance on $65k a year, sorry charlie not gonna happen. His ratio's are so far out of whack that no one who managed to pull a credit check would rent to him. After taxes hes pulling maybe 51 to 55k a year and just under half of that is going to his home? I don't think so. This "story" reeks of bias, if not downright lies in order to squeeze the emotion out of the reader.

This just isn't passing the smell test in my opinion.
89 posted on 03/11/2003 12:51:41 PM PST by G. Chapman
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To: vikingcelt
When the blue-collar jobs were going, and the factories closing, I didn't think it would happen to me and my friends.

Last week I ran into a guy I knew years ago. A few years back, he was a middle-manager for software quality assurance for IBM. Last week, he rang up my purchases at the supermarket. My brother-in-law was a consultant for KPMG a few years back. Now he sells tennis stuff

The new reality is that there is no job that is secure. Not manufactoring (gone to china), not construction (taken over by illegal immigrants) not technology (outsourced to India or China, or taken over by H1Bs).

There was one smug freeper on another thread who was not worried. He's a sales rep for an outsourcing firm. He does not yet realize that the people in India who currently man call centers will also be able to make sales calls.

90 posted on 03/11/2003 12:52:09 PM PST by SauronOfMordor (Heavily armed, easily bored, and off my medication)
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To: Bloody Sam Roberts
Or perhaps get a portfolio of mutual funds to invest in?

Perhaps he was unfortunate enough to have done so.

91 posted on 03/11/2003 12:53:46 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Ga Rob
When I could not get one job that made me enough, I got 3

Most importantly you didn't waste your time standing on an intersection for 3 months in the freezing cold.

Like many families we have had our ups and downs. During the downs hubby delivered pizzas and I worked banquets for tips and cut back to bare necessities. During the ups we never overspent and never ever took the future for granted.

92 posted on 03/11/2003 12:53:47 PM PST by noexcuses
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To: SamAdams76
THE WORLD OWES NO ONE A LIVING!!!!! I am self employed, age 38, with a stay at home wife and 5 kids, yet I manage to keep my customers very happy, and they reward me with a very nice living.

Whining is for cheese eating monkeys from France.
93 posted on 03/11/2003 12:54:01 PM PST by matthew_the_brain
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To: clamper1797
Old enough.
94 posted on 03/11/2003 12:54:27 PM PST by TheBigB (If you put [Barbra Streisand's] brain up a flea's ass, it would roll around like a BB in a boxcar.)
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To: Jimmyclyde
Why doesn't he just pull himself up by his bootstraps and become an investment banker or something?
95 posted on 03/11/2003 12:54:47 PM PST by Mortimer Snavely (Is anyone else tired of reading these tag lines?)
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To: SauronOfMordor
I saw other day where hospital in Boston was having x-rays read in India to save money.
96 posted on 03/11/2003 12:55:17 PM PST by cynicom
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To: Ga Rob
The problem is that most "long term employees" in this country live in a different paradigm than you or me. They are still children. They went from depending on their parents to depending on the company. They work their 40 hours and spend the rest of their time mowing the grass, watching tv and dinking around with the motorhome, boat, or collecting "stuff" like miniature cows, spoons or coffee cups.

They are literally not prepared for the day the pink slip comes, and when it does, their plan-b is to wait for the company to call them back while they collect unemployment in the meantime.

Unfortunately, we're not in the 60's. The company isn't calling back and the "children" want dad to come and help them.
97 posted on 03/11/2003 12:55:18 PM PST by RobRoy
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To: freeper12
There is some, its the the juveniles on the thread the somehow make themselves feel better by spitting on those down on their luck...sounds to me like the guy worked his whole life, and now finds him out of work probably for the first time in 45-50 years and doesn't have enough put aside to retire at 62...what a slouch...

I don't believe in spitting on the guy but I think we can all afford to take a lesson from this. Fact is, he did make some poor decisions that have contributed to his situation. (There is more information in the WSJ article that bears this out.)

It is a liberal tendency to make excuses for people and say things like "You should walk a mile in his shoes before you judge..." Not that I'm accusing you of having liberal tendencies. But life can be very tough on those who do not learn from other's mistakes. There are far too many people in this country living on easy credit and beyond their means. There are many others out there in the situation this man is in (or will be soon). Yet, it need not be so. Hopefully many will learn from this man's plight and make the corrections in their lifestyle today so that they do not end up like this man tomorrow.

98 posted on 03/11/2003 12:57:38 PM PST by SamAdams76 (California wine tastes better - boycott French wine!)
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To: dfwgator
"...we are witnessing a disruption as great as the Industrial Revolution, and we are all going to have to adapt to it, like it or not."

And as we continue to export the nation's productive forces to places like Red China these problems can only get worse.

We're already at the beginning of an intellectual Dark Age, in about fifteen years we'll be a third world country if things like this continue.

99 posted on 03/11/2003 12:58:31 PM PST by Mortimer Snavely (Is anyone else tired of reading these tag lines?)
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To: freeper12
So in your mind ALL the unemployed people, are unemployed either by choice or because they are lazy?

Nope, and I didn't say anything of the sort. My point is, when you NEED a job, You do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get one. If that means pulling up stakes from Florida and moving to Alaska, fine. If it means moving from a $2000 a month apartment in MA or CA or wherever to one in Peoria, IL or Pussyhump, AR, you do it. I have a very nice one-bedroom apartment in Nashville that's less than $600 a month. Two-bedrooms are maybe $750 a month. ANd like I said, there are over 5000 jobs listed on one website in his field. But I guess that's not as much fun as being interviewed by the WSJ or appearing on TV.

100 posted on 03/11/2003 12:58:53 PM PST by TheBigB (If you put [Barbra Streisand's] brain up a flea's ass, it would roll around like a BB in a boxcar.)
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