Well it started July 17th, 2007. 8 A.M. The day my life changed. I worked for the same company for 30 years, almost as long as my father had for the government. In my family when you had a job, you kept it, never bring shame to family for losing the job, no matter how tough it gets you make the best of it.
A friend at the time 30 years ago was working in the personal department, for a HMO in Colorado, I had know her family as a child, we all attended the same schools, lived in the same parish.
She said she was looking for truck drives at the company, I had been in Denver for 1 week, and was asked if I like to apply. I jumped for it, I could move out of my sisters home, and save to go to college.
Something I always wanted to do, but no money for that growing up. I still had a younger sister at home.
Over the next thirty years I moved around in the company always moved to something better, more responsibilities and more money. Yes I saved money, received a associated degree in Interior Design, love drafting, the money saved also afforded me a chance to buy a home. I was always looking to better myself in the eyes of my family and the company.
Growing up Latino, male and single from a big catholic family your always looking for acceptance, on the job being brown in a sea of white educated males is just as bad, except there for me. I did everything no one else wanted to do.
Did I get noticed in the company? Yes, I was approached by someone in HR there was a new trend in the big companies to work on Diversity Development, monies were made available to start up staff associations, African American, Latino, Asia and Pacific Islanders, and last of all Gay that had been tried before but failed. Now again being approached by several people in the company they new I was a shaker in the gay community and had been a co-chair for a Latino GLBT group. Another Latino, and myself proceeded. With the company backing us to get this last group up and running. We did it, with the help of three others.
Years afterwards this sole group would receive a National Diversity Award the first given to a GLBT group in the company Nationally even before another in San Francisco, same group different region.
Well now I had not only a great job, loved my diverse company, but had built the confidence to achieve greatness in my eyes and the family.
While all of this was going on I had started a relationship with my Domestic Partner, we've been together now for five years, he also came from a working class catholic Polish family one of ten siblings. We had much in common, save values, and he also had been part of the medical community.
He had lived all over the USA, me I was a typical Latino, stay close to home take care of the family, family is most important. One of the places he had lived I always wanted to visit, I read much about it as a child, and had a school teacher make a comment about “Hawaii, someplace most of us would probably never have the chance to visit” . Ever since that comment I was determined to check this place out.
The first time I was able to spend time in Hawaii was outstanding, not only was it warm, beautiful, but a lot of the people looked like me”BROWN” now growing up in Colorado, if your brown it's a 2nd class thing all the way, in Hawaii people my color are in charge and several thought I was one of them. I decided this is where I wanted to live. In the years to follow based on my move I proceeded with doing everything I had to do for a transfer there, the final step a job interview, in Honolulu for the same company different region.
Long story short I was interviewed by the only white recruiter for the company in Honolulu one single white person in a sea of brown.
I had set-up an appointment, had a Sr.VP in HR in Colorado a friend of my contact the Sr. VP in HR in Honolulu a friend of his for introduction, toting all the paperwork I'd needed for the job interview, letter of recommendations from Business Managers, MOA's, Doctor's, Superior's, and friend's. During the interview he made it quite known to me I was not welcome, was it because I was Mexican, gay, or overweight, all of this had been questioned while in his office Halloween 2006.
When I brought all this to the attention of the CEO, and the Sr. VP of Hr in Oakland, I was told there would be a investigation, I was told I had lied about everything. For the next year everything about me had been turned around, my exceptional performance evaluations were now the worst in the company, everything I did in the company was under scrutiny, I was told I was no longer qualified to do my job, the same one I had done for 14 years, friends had turned their backs on me, my allies gone, I was told by HR that I needed to find a new job or be fired. The day before I was to be terminatied I was given a job as a pharamacy clerk, the team I was assigned to work with later I found out wasmade up of brown nosers,back stabbers, and company pets, I was accused of not working,being lasy, late, and heres a good one pulling a knife on a co-worker( later in a union meeting I was told, all mexicans carry knifes with them don't they?) Then I was approached by this same person in the company(HR) and was told the company wanted to settle with me, if I dropped my discrimination suit against them, they would give me $5000.00 and I could leave the company, because I was no longer happy with my job.
This all went on till July 17th 2008 8A.M. That morning I received my final settlement, a benefit package for my domestic partner and myself for the rest of our lives, and I had to promise I never presue employment with them again. My union advised me to take it, and I did. Leading up to this point my health took its toll, several rides to the hospital, one stroke, several chest pains, nitro tabs, sleepless nites, vomiting daily, and my diabetic es out of control, my doctor was waiting for me to kill over just from the stress alone.
It is now October 2008 I'm still unable to find work, and my life has been ruined, I lost my home in Denver,sold just about everything we owned to live, heres something tough for me, I applied for food stamps, but was denied to much in my savings, (enough to last us for the next 4 months), food stamps turned down same reason, back in Denver I stood in line to receive food from a food banks 3 different places in a month to put food in my partner, and the dogs, we ate lots of rice,beans and veggies that had rotten spots on them you just cut around them and make the best of it, something I had growing up to make ends meet, its funny how things in life come full circle.
Someone will read this and say well put your domestic partner to work, he's on full time disability, no its not AIDS other reason. We're not considered married we all know why. So no benefits for couples.
I moved to Hawaii hoping to start a new life, in the 10 weeks we've been here I've learned a lot, about bad landlords, government red tap, the job market, it isn't any better in Hawaii. I've not told my family about this “the shame thing”, I hope to find a job soon, I've been looking everyday, have had two interviews for the government but haven't heard anything.
As long as my dogs have dog food, my partner has food, and we both have money to buy our meds, I'm sure life will get better. I hope this info helps someone out there, that when you work for a big business,retain all your paperwork between you and the company(I did), always save money(looking at the economy now) and you have no friends at work only co-workers.
Would I have changed anything that has happened to me along this path, probably not, why, its a lesson to be learned(now I sound like my mother and father), I wouldn't be writing as much as I have(my journals), and I always see the silver in the lining, I just hope it arrives before the next 4 months, I guess I should be looking for a nice beach spot to live on for a while.
If what I wrote here can help someone more power to you, if you read this and are thinking, what has happen here was brought on by me, then you don't belong on this site. And if someone reads this and knows of someone looking for help in there company here on the Big Island, I'd love to send you a resume, for your consideration. I don't need much to live on anymore we get by on next to nothing something my parents would be proud of. Thanks for letting me vent, maybe I'll stop being so emotional every time I think of what has happen to me, and I'm sure others.