I was alone, riding an elevator down, when it stopped at a lower floor and a clearly distraught woman got on board. These elevators are grossly slow, so we were together for a few seconds when she suddenly said she'd just been fired. She started crying. She was probably in her forties and said she'd never been fired before. Evidently "people" had come in from out of town and told her to leave. Immediately. And from her reaction, it sounded like there had been no warning.
She didn't know who to call first and was considering going to a nearby bar and getting drunk (I counseled against it, though in her shoes, it probably would have been my first stop). Anyhow, we rode down that elevator, then another one to the garage, and I could see she was struggling not to lose it completely. I had no platitudes to offer except to wish her the best, and the last time I saw her she was crying on her way toward her car.
There has been a lot of political grandstanding about "lazy people" on unemployment and why they don't get a job, etc. I've also been gob-smacked by the cajones of a candidate like Mitt Romney vowing to create jobs, the same Mitt who made his fortune at Bain Capital. A financial firm that generated considerable cash by destroying companies and jobs.
I have no idea why my elevator friend was fired just before Christmas, but there is a genuine human toll in all the abstract blather that often seems forgotten. And maybe that's why the encounter is sticking with me. That, and the "there but for the grace of God go I" reality, something else our political leaders with their millions and cranky ideologues seem to have forgotten...