A job, but for how long?

So, Dan started his new job today. He had to take a train into the city, which was so wonderful for me, because he left a full 15 minutes before I had to get out of bed. I wanted to let my dreamy thoughts wander around, but mostly they took two directions. One, I was extremely relieved to feel a sense of loosening in my whole body of the pressure of holding the familiy finances together. And the second, I was frightened that he was stepping out into another world of pain and failure from which he will return in roughly two years, battered and hardly the man I found him to be when I met him 17 years ago, so full of optimism and dreams. I fell on my knees out of bed, good Catholic girl, and prayed God to let him rack up a few years this time. Is there something about Dan that makes him a target of layoffs? Are there certain people who should be laid off? Clearly, that's what my co-workers believe. They are very merit-based, no room for bad luck. Today, they were discussing whether a political candidate had a job or was unemployed. As I approached, their circle throbbed in and out with the discomfort of allowing in an avowed kin to the unemployed. A sympathizer. Someone who mingles with non-winners. I want to say to them, "Hey, relax. I understand there's a stigma. I know it looks bad that my husband has been laid off a lot, but really, he's a great guy." It's clear that I can't really convince them of that. Words can't really convince them. The prejudice goes deep, and it is reinforced when their colleagues are laid off (I'm in the newspaper business, after all), and they are asked to remain working. There is survivors' guilt and also survivors' superiority. I share it, I admit. I know what I am -- productive -- or I would not be holding my job. I'm like the Albert Brooks character in "Broadcast News." They keep me because I'm versatile.

So? It's a living. I never pretended to be Anna Quindlen.