As a Forty Plusser I sometimes get flashbacks of my past. Not in a good way. Some things can never be erased from my mind.
Can you relate???
I can still clearly remember that day… It was during April 1994. My mother came to fetch me from boarding school one Friday. Her face was expressionless. I immediately sensed that something was horribly wrong. She did not greet me in her friendly way. When we made eye contact she burst into tears. I thought that someone had died… she sobbed. Tears streamed down her face… She looked broken… crushed… dispirited. All I could say was “Mom, what is wrong…”. She was not able to speak… she just broke down and cried and cried.
On our way home, she told me the shocking truth. She, my father and about 42 families all got retrenched with immediate effect. So long story short: They lost their job… at age forty plus. The company my parents worked for, for about 25 years… went bankrupt. The consequences were a total disaster. I don’t really know if a person that gets retrenched in their forties can truly recover financially ever. I am speaking of a total bankrupt situation! I was totally dumbstruck and could not make sense of all this. My parents were devasted… but had to remain strong for their children’s sake.
So what were the reality dealing with this?
Firstly – I must state that the local church helped to provide food for a while to help support these families.
Secondly – You truly get to know who your real friends are.
Thirdly – people will gossip about you and some will avoid you at all cost!
- There were no financial remuneration of any form to get back on their feet again. The company went bankrupt so there was no money to compensate the workers.
- Finding a new job, was almost impossible. Most companies did not want to take in employees that were age 40 and upwards… so they were pretty stuck to get another job….
- Okay, lots of people had opinions… “Just start your own business…”. This I know for sure – I challenge you to just become a successful, overnight entrepreneur. Providing for their family’s financial needs was almost impossible.
- No job meant ZERO income.
- Zero income meant that there was no money to pay for food, electricity, debt instalments (credit card, motor, etc.), school fees, clothing, basic toiletries, medicine, home loan, and the list goes on…
- The families all withdrew their life savings… just to try to make ends meet.
- Before you know… you are part of the “poor people’s statistics”. Some people will literally disappear from your life because they choose not to mingle with poor people.
Getting back on your feet again after retrenchment at age forty plus: I really can’t tell. Do you ever recover? My parents surely did not recover. They hovered from one part-time job to another. They were not finicky about jobs. My brother and I were not able to study after school, because there were no money. My parents did not qualify for any loans at a bank anymore, because they had nothing to put up as a means of assurance… Also – because my parents were a financial risk, other people was not willing to act as sureties if they would fail to repay debt.
Long story short. My parents never got successfully back on their feet again. To start over from scratch at age forty plus is merely impossible. To make matters worse: My alcoholic father died 4 years after this tragedy struck… and my mother became a widow. My brother and I also got jobs… not dream jobs… but we were able to support ourselves financially. Supporting our own families became priority number one. Life went by and life goes on. Today, as a Forty Plusser, I honestly don’t know what I would do if I would get retrenched. My heart goes out to every single person who had to deal with it.
” Torn clothes are funny … until your dad gets fired…”Mokokoma Mokhonoana