What Am I Thankful For?


I’m thankful that I have a job! A lot of people don’t!

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I lost my last job a few months ago, along with 9,499 other people in the Orange County real estate/finance industry over the past year. We all got to compete against each other to find another one.

The Orange County Register ran a story yesterday on how some of these folks are doing . . .

Delia DeYulia, a grandmother, was recently forced to take her first retail job.

For the holiday shopping season, DeYulia, 53, is working part-time at Kohl’s, placing clothes on racks and cleaning dressing rooms. She resorted to taking the temporary work after not finding other employment. After 15 years with Fremont Investment and Loan, she lost her mortgage job in Anaheim Hills in March.

“I’m used to sitting in an office,” said DeYulia, who audited loans at Fremont, a firm from which she expected to retire. “Now, I’m on my feet all day. I’m carrying a lot of stuff and my body has to get used to it. It’s hard work for a minimum-wage job.”

The extra money will help pay the mortgage and car payment. Her husband can’t work because he’s disabled.

“I had always felt comfortable financially,” said the grandmother of two. “Now, I’m worried about the future.”


[Robert] Harrington, 31, of Tustin, was let go in September from Bankers Mortgage in Santa Ana. As its loan originator, he made about $75,000 last year. More than half of that was from commissions.

That’s why he thinks his best bet is to find a commission-based job at a luxury retailer or a store that sells big-ticket items.

So he has zeroed in on several shops at South Coast Plaza. He recently applied to Movado, Bloomingdale’s, Sony Style, Porsche Design and Allen Edmonds.

“I hope one of them calls me back this week,” he said.

He needs to help supplement the income from his wife, who is a waitress. They have a three-year-old son.


Corinna Vickers, 35, was let go a year ago from Secured Funding in Costa Mesa. Then two months ago, her husband Shad Vickers, 35, lost his job at Lending Tree in Irvine.

Combined, they had been making $200,000 a year.

Now they’re both unemployed and have been hunting for work to pay their bills and help them save for retirement and college tuitions for their four daughters. They have not had any luck and now the Vickers are both willing to take on holiday retail work.

Man and woman looking at job postings

Rhonda Struman of Laguna Niguel is not waiting around to get hired full time. Last month, she began working as a part-time salesperson at Nordstrom at The Shops at Mission Viejo. It pays $8 an hour. Before she was laid off in August from her underwriting position at Paul Financial in Irvine, she was making more than four times that hourly rate, or about $70,000 a year.

Her husband also got laid off from the mortgage industry. He was pulling in about $130,000 a year. Now, he’s working for $11 an hour at a Costco in San Juan Capistrano.

Because of their huge pay cuts, they’re having a hard time paying their $3,400 monthly mortgage. They sold off their boat to get rid of the monthly payments. They will soon sell their furniture.

“I cry all the time and I’m stressed all the time,” Rhonda Struman said.

By February, she and her husband will leave Orange County for Colorado to look for mortgage jobs or work that pays better than their current employers. They’ll rent out their Laguna Niguel house to help pay the mortgage and then rent in Colorado.

“We have no choice,” said Struman, who’s in her 40s. “There’s too much competition in Orange County. “There are too many people out of jobs” who are looking for new work.

Whew, tell me about it! I was this close to taking a job parking cars for $12 an hour . . .

Related Links

Nor does the immediate future look bright for the local real estate market. Here are some of this week’s headlines from the OC Register real estate blog:

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