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VOICES

Starting Over

July 11, 1993|STEPHANIE JORDAN | Stephanie Jordan, 25, married and the mother of a 4-year-old son, had a well-paying job as a legal secretary. In March, her office closed and she found herself unemployed. Like many who have lost jobs in the recession, Jordan is trying to get back on her feet. She was interviewed by Nancy Slate.

I started my job as a legal secretary in 1986. I enjoyed it. I was planning to stay there. I felt secure. But because of the recession, my boss wasn't making any money, so he closed the office. Suddenly, I had to start everything over.

When I couldn't find another job, I decided to go back to school and be a paralegal so I could earn good money, make my own hours, and have time for my son. I just finished at Century Business College and soon I'll start at West Los Angeles Community College. I got a job at the counter at Kentucky Fried Chicken because it gave me an income and flexible hours.

It was scary when I lost my job because I also lost my apartment. I couldn't make the rent, and my husband worked a warehouse job, so he didn't have enough money either. I lived with my mother-in-law, and my mother helped watch my son as well, so my husband and I could work and I could go to school and get back on my feet.

There's just no money anymore.

*

You're used to having enough to do things you like--to go out to lunch when you want to. That's gone now. Now, it's cold lunch meat. Now I have to budget. . . . I used to take little vacations, places like San Diego or Catalina. I haven't had a vacation lately. And clothing, of course. I haven't bought clothes for a while. We just get my son what he needs, and that's it. We don't have the nice things in life anymore. Now it's just necessities.

My personal life hasn't changed much. I see my friends about the same amount as I used to. But we didn't go out that much anyway. We usually go to the park, where the kids can play.

I really liked working at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Park La Brea before family circumstances forced me to move again recently. It was a complete change from working at a desk. There's customer service, so I'd talk to people constantly. They'd come in and tell me their life stories, like I'm a bartender. It was relaxing; I had a great time. I wasn't any more tired than I was at a desk job. It was just a different kind of tired, like I'd been exercising.

The downside: There's not enough money. I only made $4.75 an hour, and I used to make much more, about $15 an hour.

I don't see life any differently. I know that nothing is forever. Things can be taken away from you when you least expect it. Not just jobs, but anything. Someone's getting married and suddenly her fiance dies. You never know what's going to happen.

So I look at things positively, and if something goes wrong, that's life. There's nothing to do about it. Just try and make the best of the situation.

For someone who loses a job during the recession, I would say: "Keep looking for work." Try the newspapers. Ask people at your old job if they know who's hiring. If you're tired of the work you were doing, now's the time to start over, go to school, become what you want to be.

Keep an optimistic viewpoint. Have a good attitude, because with a bad attitude, people won't hire you or help you.

I smile a lot. People say, "Why are you always smiling?" But when I do, things come my way.

My parents told me, "You have to go after what you want. Do whatever you have to do, because nothing is going to be handed to you." That's how I live my life.

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