Dear Karma Cleanser:
I'm hoping you can help me get this turned around. Frankly, I've had better millennia and I don't know what I could have done to get into this situation.
Since 2000, I have lost my job, went 20 months without being hired, lived off my savings and spent most of my IRA that wasn't decimated in the stock market, exhausted my unemployment benefits, and recently got laid off again after working for five months just as my taxes were due. How did this come about?
During the last millennium, I used to work in information technology, most recently writing software. I raised two daughters from the ages of 2 and 3 as a single dad, and they are now both in their 30s.
I worked, paid my bills, took care of my kids, didn't get drunk or blow money on myself and didn't run around with wild women. All I want to do is get back to a reasonable job where I can take care of my obligations. Is that asking too much? What did I do wrong? It's not like I was working for Enron. What do I have to undo?
Hey kids, here's your chance to play Karma Cleanser! See, we're in a bit of a pickle. With each passing week, we get more and more letters like the one above (so take heart, Clueless, you're not alone). We've always received a good share of the "woe-is-me" letters since we started this column more than two years ago, cries for help that are usually written with the subtlety of a ransom note. It's not that we're callous, but such missives just don't make for good reading.
But in these troubled times, we've noticed more and more letters seemingly written with one foot on the ledge. So, rather than offer our usual brilliant guidance (judgments most often levied with the help of our Yoda-shaped 8-ball), we're turning to you, vox populi, to help your fellow man. It's sorta like the end of It's a Wonderful Life, but with no big heap of cash.
Your assignment is easy: Send us your answer (in 200 words or less) to the quandary Clueless describes. We'll choose the best two or three responses to run in a future issue, and one lucky writer just might get a special Karma Cleanser-ific prize. Submit your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org before June 19. Yes, you can send in more than one entry, but make them witty and helpful.
And after this, no more woe-is-me letters, we promise.
Been bad? email@example.com.