Sometimes, I think I live in a cave. Its not that I don’t know we’re in a recession. It’s not that I don’t hear about it 10 times a day on NPR, which is the only news that squeaks through my blockade. It’s not that I am unaware of the thousands upon thousands of people who are laid off each week, or the stores that are closing all around me, or the 75 percent off sales everywhere I look. But after eight years of orange alerts and dire warnings and fear, I have become somewhat inured to bad news. It was so bad for so long, and I felt so helpless, that I stopped reading, watching, or listening to the news.
What finally brought the reality of this recession home to me were two conversations about education. One was with the St. Louis Community College, where I teach writing. Registration for my non-credit class is down this semester, as it was last semester. And it’s not just my class; it’s all classes, on all campuses of the community college. People are cutting back, and one of the ways they’re doing it is by not taking classes they don’t need. How many people really need to learn how to write a nonfiction book?
The community college discontinued the separate catalogs for each campus, which people were used to receiving. That probably confused a lot of would-be students. They seem to have discontinued the person who interacted with the instructors, as well. That definitely confused me. I have no idea whom to call when I have a question. So, I call the continuing ed office, where I am told they are in the midst of reorganization. What does that mean? I ask. "It means we may not even be offering the program in the future," I am told. What program? "The continuing education program." I hang up in a daze.
This morning, I was telling a friend about this development. “My daughter is on the strategic planning committee for one of the branches of the university,” she says, "and she just heard they might be closing." Closing? Closing what? I ask. “That branch of the university,” she replies. “I don’t know how she will get her degree if they close the whole campus.”
Suddenly, I am hit with the enormity of this recession — how widespread and deep it is, how it reaches into ever crevice of our society, how many lives it is touching and in many cases ruining. There is no response to my friend’s dismal observation. What can one say?
Bobbi Linkemer is a ghostwriter, book coach, editor, and the author of 14 books. Her articles on all aspects of writing appear on more than 25 article sites on the Web, including top-ranked EzineArticles.com. Bobbi has been a professional writer for 40 years, a magazine editor and journalist, and a writing teacher. She has written about thousands of subjects over the years. With Musings, for the first time, Bobbi is sharing her thoughts on a wide array of topics, from serious to satirical and philosophical to factual.