Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction, but marketing and communications manager James Baraldi is turning to fiction to cope with the truth -- that after 27 years of service to one company, he was laid off in January 2010.
"Most writers have a book in their drawer," said Baraldi, who worked for Bunzl Philadelphia, a food service distribution company. This one is officially fiction, but it talks about the experiences of a man who works in a company for years and then loses his job.
Baraldi, of Drexel Hill, started his career as a journalist, working for trade magazines, but then moved into marketing. In Bunzl and its predecessor company, he found very satisfying work. He built up the company's marketing department from nothing, designing sales materials, brochures and catalogs where none had existed. Then as the web came into play, he helped move these same materials online, even helping to set up dedicated sites for the company's largest customers, among them Rita's Water Ice and Wawa.
Luckily, his wife is employed as a teacher, so he continues to have health benefits. He spends 80 percent of his time looking for work, and has had a dozen interviews. But, he said, his previous salary seems to deter employers from hiring him, even though he'd be willing to work for far less. "I've been applying like crazy," he said. "I can't even get under-employed."
One day, he was in Center City at a wedding and he and a relative were looking at the skyline. Baraldi said he pointed to every skyscraper -- he had applied for jobs in each one. Picking up on the wedding theme, he said, "I guess I'm always the bridesmaid, never the bride."
Besides his own situation, it depresses him that so much talent is going unused as the nation's economy simply doesn't create enough jobs.
These days, he keeps looking for work, but he admits his novel writing has slowed.
"I'm trying to get a happy ending to this story."
Update as of late December, 2011: Baraldi is still looking for work.
The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should do their own background checks.