Involuntary unemployment can wreak havoc on one’s self-confidence. Being laid off from my job of ten plus years at the end of 2010 was totally unexpected, and it took me a couple of weeks before I realized that not going back to my old cubicle was a permanent thing. Craving structure, I almost immediately set about recreating a “workday” that consisted of spending my mornings at my desk (my new, temporary cube), scanning job postings, reaching out to old contacts and making new ones, and taking other initiatives to get back into the workforce.
My afternoons were then mine, barring receipt of any returned correspondence. I then started or resumed various photography projects, which was restorative in a lot of ways. Being laid off also suddenly put into my perspective what many of my townsfolk back in my hometown of Flint, Michigan had gone through after wave upon wave of job eliminations from GM. Admittedly, one key difference with my situation was that there were many other job opportunities to be had in Chicago, and not everyone in the Windy City was vying for any and every one of the few positions that remained.
It was while on an afternoon jaunt to somewhere (on my newly-restricted, weekly allowance) that I spotted our featured car in front of National Car Wash in the neighborhood just south of mine. I have always loved the mid-century modern architecture and signage of this building, and have returned to it often to get a few more snapshots of it. Also, with so many things always in flux, one just never knows when a previously admired landmark will be demolished and replaced with something more modern on increasingly more-valuable real estate.
My title to this piece is not necessarily a dig at this Eldorado. I’m aware that while this generation doesn’t seem to be the favorite of a lot of people, there must be a least a few folks who had a genuinely decent experience with and / or affection for one. With that said, this example, that appeared to be a daily driver that was two decades old at the time of these photographs, was likely the nicest car its owner could afford. Why buy a Y2K-era Impala or Taurus when you could ride in actual (relative) style? “After all, it’s a Cadillac.”
It doesn’t matter that this Eldorado isn’t the sharpest, newest thing on wheels. It even has the $395 Gold Ornamentation Package! Oooo, la la! Many of us have been faced with a situation when a transportation car was needed, or where we couldn’t have our first choice of exactly what we wanted. In such instances, how we face our situation is up to us. We can begrudge what we can’t have and what others do.
Or, we make the most of our sudden abundance of free time. We spring for the old luxury car. We ride the bus with no particular destination in mind simply just to get out of the house. We refuse to give up. Our optimism may be baffling to some, or perhaps downright irritating to others. No matter. We deserve the simple pleasures afforded us by choosing to make the most of things. Our optimism is yet possible because when life gives us lemons, we paint that s*** gold.
Uptown, Chicago, Illinois.
Monday, December 20, 2010.