Over the past few years, we have watched as our economy tanked, our homeowners were thrown into the streets, the unemployment rates rose to astounding numbers, and everyone was fearful about our future.
In Las Vegas, even though most people on the outside would think that the main economy here is gambling, casinos, and the strip. Our real bread and butter is construction. From roads, to new casinos, to remodeling casinos, to housing, to shopping malls… our main industry has been building things. When the money stopped flowing into Vegas, and the investors spending money, we saw our unemployment rates skyrocket. We became one of top three depressed cities in the country. Our foreclosure rates grew daily, and more people started leaving here than were moving here for the first time in over 50 years.
All of these things were well documented in the media. What wasn’t talked about on the news was the mental toll this economy would take on its workers. Over the past 2 years, I have watched as these construction workers, the men and women who make up our skilled trades, such as electricians, carpenters, steel workers, equipment operators, etc… go from being proud, working hard for a good wage, to living on unemployment, and feeling more hopeless as the days, weeks and months have ticked by. Waiting for the construction industry to turn around, and for the investors to come back and jump start our little city, the picture looks more bleak every day.
These once proud men and women can no longer work in the field that they were trained for and have worked in most of their lives. Many have lost their homes, their savings, their marriages, and have cashed in their retirement to have money to live on. The depths of depression that comes from someone who feels lost and hopeless can be all consuming. The men especially, who have always been providers, have been reduced to feeling like less than men. Depression and lowliness do terrible things to a defeated mind.
What makes me so sad, is watching these big, strong men, feel like they have no options. Feeling like without this one job description defining them, that they have no definition of who they really are. I have had them tell me how lost they feel, that they aren’t really men anymore, that they feel useless. A lot of these guys are my friends. I care for them. Why are they so stuck in the idea that they cannot redefine who they are? Why not reinvent themselves into something else? A new job, a new career, a new road and direction.. they are all out there. What makes such strong willed people give in to the the idea that without this one thing, that they are nothing?
There is nothing worse than wasted talent. The potential is there. The options are there. I love you guys and believe in you. I truly hope that you all can see what I see in you. Proud, strong, intelligent, hard working, dedicated, caring, funny, necessary men who have a whole world of options, choices and possibilities available to them. Just take it!
You can always go back to where you were, but at least make the trip out there, so you know it’s really where you want to be.