By David Pego

There are people who want to help – like my friend, Katie.

Katie, who lives in Dallas, is a sweetheart. She has a handful of cats and a husband who wishes she didn’t.

But Katie is also perplexed these days. She has lost a few close friends – after they lost their jobs to the struggling economy. Katie wants to be there for them but her efforts are being ignored.

“I don’t know what it is,” Katie said recently. “I’d like to talk to them and do what I can. But they just won’t talk to me.”

When jobs disappear

In one case, a friend left a job in the communications to join the dot-com industry when the cyber waves were riding high. But suddenly low tide came and companies started to crash – including the one that he joined. Job over.

But he found work with another dot-com and things seemed to go well. The company no doubt appreciated his rich understanding of the business world, gleaned from his communications experience. However, the dot-com fortunes continued to plummet and his company could not stand the pressure. Job over.

He used to be a regular lunch buddy for Katie who once had worked just across the office from him. But suddenly, he wasn’t returning her many calls.

“I’d love to see him for lunch,” Katie said.

Tough job market

Another friend had been let go from his communications field job about the same time. Like the other friend of Katie’s, his job had disappeared when times soured for some of the larger communications entities. Katie said he applied at several other companies but his job search wasn’t immediately successful.

“He just stayed at home,” Katie said. “I worry about him. He wouldn’t even return my emails anymore.”

One day, Katie picked up the phone and to her surprise, he answered. He didn’t have a lot to say other than explaining that the job search was still active.

“Why don’t you take my calls?” Katie recalled saying.

“Because I’m a ——-, I guess,” was his only reply. The conversation ended shortly after.

A frustrated friend

“I think he’s hurt and I’d like to see him for lunch,” Katie said. “I don’t know what else I can do.”

Yet another friend had been told one day that she and nine others were being laid off because of the company’s sagging revenues. As is the custom at the company, she was told to unceremoniously pack up her personal items in her work area and leave the building. Job over.

She, too, is still looking for work.

“I’ve tried and tried to reach her,” Katie said. “But she won’t take my calls, either.”

Katie did all that she could do to help. She knew that other employees in the company were taking up funds to help some of those who had lost jobs.

“I was going to donate anyway,” Katie said. “But I decided I would send my money directly to her. She’s a single mother and we’ve always been good friends.”

Check’s in the mail

The letter with Katie’s check arrived.

“I know she got it because the check was cashed,” Katie said. “But I never heard from her.”

Katie and I talked for awhile about her three “lost” friends. Maybe it was embarrassment or resentment that kept them from taking her calls and messages. But we both agreed that it was a shame they were not able to accept a free lunch from an old friend or some other sort of modest help. And who knows? Katie is in a position where she sometimes hears of job openings and might have been able to steer them in the right direction.

Keep those lines open

It’s important for those who are looking for work not to become so discouraged or depressed that they start cutting off relationships – especially with those who may be able to direct them to new job leads. But it’s tough when your pride is bruised. That’s exactly the time to start looking through online career sites – such as this one – and to start phoning old friends.

Until then, Katie has her husband. She has her cats. And she has nice memories of her old friends and wishes they would call.


Contributing editor and director of writer development David Pego is a Saginaw Chippewa tribal member. He was the first native journalist to be named a McCormick Tribune Fellow.  David was a delegate to the historic White House Conference on Indian Education and was the 2000 winner of the Innovators In Education Award. He also serves as National Chair for the new Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society national writing competition for young students. is committed to presenting diverse points of view. However, the viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at IMD.