Posted by: Jenny | February 4, 2015

The Kindness of Strangers (and friends. Mostly, friends)

I lost my job two weeks ago. It’s one of those life events that rank right up there with death, divorce and public speaking as stressful events in a person’s life. I can vouch for that. I was told that with the reorganization of our municipality, my position no longer existed, so thank you for your years of dedication, blah blah blah.

In a word: Politics. Of course my position still exists; it’s just now at a lower pay grade, with “Deputy” added at the beginning of the title. The newly-elected official who will oversee that position probably has someone in mind for the job, so out with the old, in with the new.

However, I am fortunate that my job of nearly 14 years wasn’t my passion. It was a job, present for a very specific role in my life – to pay the bills. That’s it. It didn’t fulfill me. I didn’t dream of being the greatest clerk of the court that ever lived. I went to work, did my very best, and every two weeks, they gave me money. Even Steven.

So, I put it out there in the world, via Facebook, that I’m on the market again, hoping that someone on my friends list would have a lead. And there were leads – comically (and quite innocently), two people sent me the posting for the newly-revamped job description of the position that I had just lost. Others passed along jobs they’d heard about through the grapevine; some offered to give me a leg up by talking to contacts at these jobs and serving as a reference.

I was bombarded with messages of encouragement and commiseration. Three friends – former co-workers, not from this job but from a job 16 years ago – took me out for dinner and drinks that night. My adult sons checked in more frequently, giving me pep talks and assuring me of my awesomeness.

And then today, two weeks after my change of status, I went to my stylist for a hair cut.

I feel Shawna is criminally underpaid, considering the miracle she performs with my baby-fine hair every six weeks, but she insists that she is charging me her “friends” rate and that all is cool. I sat in her chair and she asked what’s new, so I told her the big news. She said the normal and typical things people say when they hear you got canned, and then we moved on to other topics. As she was drying my hair, she asked, “What can I do for you? What can I do to make this easier for you?”

Then she answered her own question: the hair cut was free. I deserve to look my best at a time like this, she reasoned, and she’s certain I’d do the same for her.

Now, I’m not a long-time client. I stumbled upon her in September, when on the hunt for a new stylist. We clicked at my first visit, and not only does my hair look the best it’s ever looked, I’ve found a new friend.

She had me thinking the rest of the day about how small things can mean something big when you’re in a time of weakness and transition. How hearing from old friends who are just checking in can lift your spirits. That sons who echo words of affirmation they’ve heard from you can make you feel more successful than any task or project ever made you feel at work.

And how sometimes, passion and purpose collide, and a simple gesture can trigger the desire to do what you do best and what you love. My stylist enhanced my appearance and enriched my soul as well.

So I’m back to my blog. I’ve realized that being let go was not a stressful event, but a gift. I’ve been set free to follow my passion.


  1. Great piece Jen! I know the feeling of getting let go. I don’t know that I ever got over it, but your outlook is very uplifting! I’m now a follower of your blog!


    • Thanks, Julie!


  2. Thank you Jenny for visiting my own blog today and for the kind words. I work with people who are either chronically unemployed or for whom like you, the experience is new.
    I’d say from reading your piece you have made the choice to see the positive in what for many would be a crushing blow. That my kind visitor tells me you are resilient and have the ability to reframe problems as opportunities. You also have a great story for a future interview depending on how you choose to view it.

    Well done and all the best.
    Kelly Mitchell

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Kelly. I appreciate the feedback.


  3. “My stylist enhanced my appearance and enriched my soul as well” – what a gift she gave you and what a blessing that you could recognize it. A reminder to the rest of us that a simple act we dismiss as “no big deal,” can make all the difference in someone’s day or life even. I’m glad you’re following your passion and lucky to be one that gets to enjoy your words.


    • Thank you, Diane!


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