My night of joy, then exhaustion dawns

F or a moment last week, around midnight on Tuesday, we all went mad with joy. Mad in a way I’ve never seen or heard. As I went to bed around 4am I could still hear the screams from people in the street: “We did it!” Emails came in from friends the next day: “I’m still drunk; you?”

No, I wasn’t, but nonetheless the relief that we were finally free of the reign of George W. Bush was still flowing through my veins.

And then? Then, exhaustion. The market fell and it was time to return to reality. This is the time that employers have promised they will make their job cuts – after the election. We face the holiday season with abysmal figures in the retail sector and unemployment rising.

People are moving out of the city in droves to the cheaper suburbs. Suddenly coveted spaces in private schools, once impossible to get into, are open. Sales reps are calling to notify consumers of 40 per cent reductions, desperate to fill their empty stores.

I went to get my hair cut on election day. My hairdresser’s wife had just been laid off. They have a new baby and he is deeply worried about how he is going to get by. “Eighty per cent of my female clients either work on Wall Street or are married to people on Wall Street,” he said. “They’re stretching out their appointments from every eight weeks to 10. And the men, they come in here and try to make jokes – but each one says the same joke and it’s not even funny.”

“What is it?” I asked.

“I’m earning half the money – and I’m still stuck with the wife.”

He’s right. It’s not funny.

Last night I watched the movie Kit Kittredge starring Abigail Breslin; it’s a tale of how grim life was in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1934 when houses were foreclosed, respectable people became outlawed “hobos” and even the most resilient of spirits could be trampled on. All the friends I was watching it with couldn’t take it. They left. “Just too depressing,” said one.

By the end I was the only one watching, perhaps because it shows a resourceful 10-year-old aspiring journalist getting her first story into print. “Never give up,” her father, played by Chris O’Donnell had told her. I’ll try to remember that in the coming months. V

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