They were all Orange County employees until the bankruptcy opened a trapdoor beneath them, sending their lives tumbling into uncertainty. The Times told the stories of 50 such workers in March. One year after the bankruptcy, we revisit eight of them below.
Annette Diogostine thought the woman on the other end of the phone might cry. The caller was a county employee who had been clearing away some old files in an office she once shared with Diogostine, and the task had made her sadly nostalgic.
The office was gutted and glum after the county layoffs, the woman said, and the people who remained were not as close or as friendly as the old crew. If only it could be like it was before, the caller said.
The phone call was kind, but Diogostine said she found herself surprisingly numb to the sentiment. “I don’t know, I guess you just move on. I’d have to say I was indifferent to the whole thing now.”
A new job and nine months have put a lot of distance between the software applications consultant and the day she was laid off from her job in the county administrative office, her employer for nearly nine years. She no longer reads newspaper stories about the county’s bankruptcy recovery, nor does she brood about the failed investments that triggered the crisis.
“I don’t think too highly of the county or the county leaders, but I’m not really bitter,” the mother of two said. “But if I didn’t have a job I’d probably still have some hard feelings. I’ve heard horror stories. People that are still looking.”
Two months after she lost her job, Diogostine landed a spot at an Irvine software company that has contracts with the county. She said the work is more challenging than her old post. The pay is about the same, but the retirement and health benefits are far better.
Unemployment did have an impact on her life, though. Diogostine said the weeks of worry and dipping into the family savings have made her more frugal. She and her husband, a retail manager, had bought a home just a few months before the layoff, but the house remains spartan.
“We haven’t really decorated much or bought a lot of things,” she said. “We think about things, ‘Do we really need this?’ Losing my job changed me. I don’t see how it couldn’t.”