My home town is falling apart. I moved to this particular town (let's call it Anytown, USA) when I was 10 and spent my youth and formative years there. I hated it when we first moved there. I eventually got used to it, but now every time I go back I get depressed.
The housing market there has completely eroded. I drive down this particular street to get to my parents' house and it's all just one for sale sign after another. They've all been there at least a year or more. The houses look abandoned. At least they're not all boarded up (but in some parts of the town they are).
I've cut off nearly all contact with the old friends I had from there, little by little, because they were just at different points in their lives than me. There still is a huge difference between us, which I find depressing. On the one hand, it's their own fault hardly any of them graduated high school nor had any inclination to better themselves before having their own children. They're stuck in jobs they hate, marriages they wish they could get out of, little "brats" constantly running underfoot. No money, no way out.
Here's the kicker, though. Most of them worked in a factory for a company called Quad Graphics. You may have heard of them. Usually I hate to name names in this blog, but I'm calling them out. Quad Graphics. First, the company wanted to build a factory in our town, bringing us all jobs and hope. What a great idea! But then it so happened that our county would no tallow Quad Graphics to set up shop in our town because of pollution regulations. So then out of the goodness of their hearts, Quad Graphics built their brand new plant right on the county line. Literally less than 10 feet away from the county line is where one wall of the complex sits. How considerate of them to build their pollution-spewer so close to our town so that many of the townsfolk could become their employees. And Quad Graphics was a great place to work. The hourly wage was decent, overtime pay was good, the benefits were awesome, and I hear the parties were really good. So a bunch of my friends from my home town got jobs there. Then a couple weeks ago a large number of employees at Quad Graphics were laid off. Right in the middle of their shifts, no warnings. They were given a few weeks' severance pay and cobra insurance for a month or so, and that was that. All these guys living paycheck to paycheck as is, suddenly no longer even have a paycheck. Of coarse, no other places around there are hiring- everyone else is purging employees, too. Here's the real kicker- two days after laying off hundreds of workers, Quad Graphics began accepting bids for independent contractors and temp workers.