Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The realities of job loss, a personal story July 21, 2022

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
My husband, Randy, at work as an automotive machinist. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

THIS IS MY TRUTH. It is 9:25 am, and I am exhausted. I’ve been awake since 4 am. Randy awoke two hours earlier. After a while of tossing and turning, I rolled out of bed and finished reading a book by a nurse who worked for 11 months in a Minnesota COVID ICU Unit. A review of that powerful book will be forthcoming.

But today this is a post about what’s keeping me awake. More precisely this is a story of job loss. In early May, my husband of 40 years learned that he will lose his job of 39 years as an automotive machinist at an auto parts store. Not because he didn’t do a helluva a job, but because the new out-of-state corporate owner is opting to close down the profitable and much-needed machine shop. Randy was given four months to wrap up work he had scheduled in, with orders not to accept new work. That’s substantially affected his income and his morale.


It’s been hard, really hard. The stress is wearing on us, Randy especially. He is one of the calmest individuals I know. But this, this disrespect and devaluing of him after 39 years of hard work and loyalty is tough to take. Every single day he deals with customers upset about the shop closure. Every single day he turns away work. Every single day he deals with rumors spread by co-workers and others. Every single day he goes to work weary of it all.

And that filters to me as I try to support, encourage and be there for him. I am angry. I am frustrated. I am tired and drained and stressed. Mentally exhausted. Randy likely feels that quadruple. We are grieving.


If one more person tells me to look on the positive side, that something good will come from this, I will scream. I don’t need to hear that right now. I need affirmation of my anger, my frustration, my exhaustion, my worries, my stress. Randy needs the same. We are entitled to these feelings. And we will own them.

I recognize that our current situation has happened to others. I’m sorry for that. But today this is our story.


Randy is not yet full retirement age. That won’t occur until early next year. Uncertainties exist about his future, including his end date, which may be as early as July 29 or perhaps August 31. Communication is lacking. An attorney has been consulted. None of this should be. Not after 39 years.

My heart hurts for Randy. He should be leaving his long-time job on his terms, in his time. Gone is the thought of a retirement party with customers, co-workers and family gathering to celebrate and honor Randy. He’s a good man. A decent man with a strong work ethic. Highly-skilled at his trade. Remarkable in his devotion to meeting customers’ needs and providing excellent service. He is dedicated, working long hours for 39 years. The list of attributes could go on and on.

I, of course, am biased. But anyone who knows Randy would tell you the same. He is farm boy strong with a background of physical labor. Talented and hands-on skilled. Grease rings his fingernails. Grease stains his worn steel-toed work boots. And sometimes grease stains his face.

Today I see his weary face. I see the exhaustion. I see the stress and uncertainty. He can’t sleep. Neither can I. We are exhausted.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


28 Responses to “The realities of job loss, a personal story”

  1. Sending love and prayers. ❤ I'm here if you need an ear to bend.

  2. I am so sorry, Audrey!!
    It is a horrible thing to happen!! You both have every right to feel what you are feeling now.
    I pray for both of you as you deal with this.
    God bless you both. 🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻🙏🏻

  3. It is a loss and there is the grieving phases along with feeling all the feels, emotions, thoughts, etc. I am sure it is especially hard since he truly enjoys the work he does – it does not feel like work or chore when you do what you love and have passion for. I have been thinking about the two of you and sending lovesandhugs. Take care of each other and take the time you need to process.

  4. Valerie Says:

    Audrey, I feel your pain. I could have written some of these words a few years ago. It’s hard!

  5. Hi, Audrey. I’ve been reading your beautiful blog for a number of years. I can see this is a very difficult thing Randy and you are going through. I will be praying for Randy and you in the upcoming weeks. I feel for your situation and wish it wasn’t so.


  6. I can imagine the emotions are all over the place. What a loss after so many years. Have a good scream and be angry. We will be praying for you both!

  7. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    Sorry to hear of your difficult situation at this time in your lives. Praying that you will get through this somehow.

  8. Judith Says:

    Oh, Audrey, what appalling treatment after a lifetime’s work. It really is heartbreaking for both of you. And adding insult to injury in the new owners keeping Randy in limbo like this, since they took over the company. I do hope the lawyer can ensure some reparation for him. I think your fury is fully justified, after the strain of the last 3 months. Wishing you both fortitude for the next few weeks..

  9. beth Says:

    I am so sorry to read this and knew it was coming based on your earlier posts. You certainly are entitled to all of what you’re feeling right now and more. The corporation has not taken the human toll into consideration, there is always a way to retain valued employees, especially those who are so much a vital part of the community. My heart is with you both as you go through this.

  10. I can’t tell you how much I feel for Randy, and you Audrey. I know exactly what he is going through.

  11. Don’t let the evil capitalize on all the good you both have done! This situation will frankly suck for a good while! Hug each other, find a peaceful place, cry and let the emotions run the full range you are feeling (which you have done very well in this blog). Keeping it inside will only make it harder.
    I know retirement parties are enjoyable celebration of long years of dedication but you would be surprised how many people outside of small town America never see retirement (even if they do the time) acknowledgement.
    I know this may not help much with your current struggles but you have a huge blog community of support out here thinking positive thoughts for you!
    Hang in there and hugs from us!

  12. Norma Says:

    Audrey. I am extremely sorry to hear of this. I don’t know what to say to you. Herb was forced into early retirement also. He could have moved to a different location, but wasn’t ready for city life. God be with both of you at this devastating time in your lives.

  13. I have no words that will help ease your anger and frustration at this point but I hear you and recognize the unfairness in the entire situation. It’s so difficult to see loved ones go through difficult times and feel helpless. Been there multiple times over the years with family and friends.

    You WILL get on the other side of this somehow but it is perfectly normal to grieve, to be angry, to be sad, and to feel all of the emotions. And you need to. Reach out if you just need to vent— I am here.

    Praying for wisdom and peace , help from those who can help Randy through this and most of all asking the Holy Spirit to bring comfort during such a challenging time. All my love…

    • Thank you, Beth Ann. You have been a great support. And you and Chris are “proof” that we will get to the other side of this challenge. We’re hoping this week brings answers regarding Randy’s work situation. Communication continues to be lacking.

  14. I am sorry for this. This should never happen and you and your husband are right to be upset and angry and honestly heart broken. When we work for someone there is a trust right? That was broken here for sure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.