The news came yesterday morning. The second largest employer in Missoula County will be closing its doors permanently as of December 31st. 417 folks will lose their jobs – many of them being the higher paying jobs in the area. Estimates are that the residual job loss could top 1500. Merry Christmas.
So I wonder. These folks will continue to receive their full pay until mid-February, then will go on unemployment for a substantial amount of time beyond. There’s also talk of severance pay. How many will view this job loss as the end of their world as they know it, and how many will take this as an opportunity to simplify their lives and shed the gratuitous and materialistic ways that they’ve become accustom to with the big paycheck? How many will take the opportunity to try something they’ve always wanted to do, but were scared to try because of the loss of the security of that paycheck? How many will go back to the ways of their grandparents – growing and canning food instead of buying it at Safeway? Tending animals and reaping the benefits they offer – free eggs, wool for clothing, meat?
As much of a shock as this plant closure is to western Montana – I can’t help but be optimistic that some of these people may take this as an opportunity instead of a tragedy. To see that new door open where this one closes.