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"When the cost of [a car] repair was increased to $3,000, the cognitive performance of those at the upper end of the income distribution was unaffected by the increase. But those at the lower end suffered a 40% decline! The authors interpreted this to mean that scarcity impaired people’s ability to think clearly. The threat—even an imagined threat—of a large bill made it difficult for poor people to focus on the cognitive tasks at hand."

That's me. I was recently fired for having severe narcolepsy. (Irony: The medication that might help with this condition for the first time in my life arrives tomorrow, a few days before our health insurance runs out.) It's been surreal to be excluded from most life aspirations due to being unable to participate in the 9 to 5 that society expects. Part of why it's hard is that no one can relate to this at all. When you throw your back out and are unable to work, people understand. When you arrive at 1pm because you have no memory of waking up and turning off all three of the alarms you'd set, no one cares why. You're damaged goods.

A basic income would at least assist with searching for my next job. My wife and I are now in a situation where we either start receiving income within three months max, or completely run out of money.

I know intellectually what needs to be done: Port a webapp from an older framework to a next-gen framework, then write a detailed post about how it was done and what the benefits were. That would be enough social standing to at least get some freelancing gigs.

Trouble is, I'm completely frozen. It's not quite fear -- closer to profound loss of hope. When a medical condition excludes you from society, it's easy to let it get the better of you, or feel bitter. Those are precisely the opposite feelings that will result in income.

In that light, it's not strange that a $3,000 bill would reduce someone's performance by 40%. Even if it's not a disaster, you end up wishing that you could take your wife on that honeymoon you've talked about for four years. When it took 6 months to save up $3,000 dispite a decently high salary, you know that your future will never be free from the "money problem," and that it will permeate every aspect of your life.

So what do you do? Try to be intelligent, of course. Try to see your situation as amusing. Amusement, yes; anger, no. It's easier to deconstruct a problem when it feels like a puzzle rather than a prison.

Easy to say that. What do I do? Pull up React docs while trying not to cry.

None of my ambitions matter anymore. Life is a years-long process of trying to recover from a tailspin. I'm 28; blink a few times and I'll be 50.

A basic income might help. When the company fired me without notice, they mentioned that our health and dental insurance will expire at the end of the month. This translates into a few things: (a) an extra $350/mo of bills, which accelerates our impending bankruptcy; (b) choose to remove my wisdom teeth and get a root canal right now, this week, which will knock me out for at least two weeks when I have to perform, and will cost at least 15% of our reserves anyway, so I'm not going to do that. Maybe it will result in messed up teeth for life, but that's an abstract problem that Future Me will deal with later.

On the other hand, maybe a basic income would hurt. I don't want handouts. I want to participate in life and to add value to my pursuits, just like you. It's easy to imagine feeling like maybe this basic income should be my lot in life. At least if I know we'll hit a brick wall in 3 months and that my wife won't be able to graduate, I can sort of force myself to try to use React / etc, and to otherwise hustle.

But I miss being 13, when life was an endless intellectual playground, and that "forcing yourself to have fun learning a programming framework" was an absurd contradiction.

Why post this? I don't know. It's not a sob story, and it's not really a warning. It seems like no one else will learn a thing from any of this. But at least it won't seem so mysterious that a $3,000 bill can subvert you.




I have chronic fatigue that, until treated, was quite disabling. I have some other more private health concerns that add up to about twice my rent. If you have a chronic health condition, access to health care is a major and fundamental concern: I just left a job that was killing me, and am temporarily unemployed, and COBRA with a $500 premium is my cheapest option by far. If I hadn't spent the last year saving as much as I could, I'd be in a lot of trouble.

I didn't choose to be sick. I don't want handouts either. I am very fortunate. But I do think it's a damn shame that health insurance is so tightly coupled with employment when employers come and go but your health follows you everywhere. I can't imagine that a public option would be worse than this.


<COBRA with a $500 premium is my cheapest option by far>

Why isn't buying a subsidized ACA policy an option?


I'm not actually sure what the criteria for subsidies are; I made too much to qualify last year, I hope to get back to work soon and make too much to qualify this year. I don't know how "annual income" shakes out in this situation.

Either way I had a $2500 out of pocket max on my old plan that I usually met in January. $6k a year in premiums + $2500 out of pocket + some out of network costs is a relatively palatable deal.


Was your employer covered by the ADA? If they have more than 15 employees, you have a great EEOC case to get un-fired.


Allowing someone to come into work more than half way through the day (presumably with no way to get a concrete time from them in advance) may not be considered a "reasonable accommodation" depending on what the job is.

Even for software development it's not always reasonable.


What do you do? I am hiring and we have remote roles and a global team so everyone keeps their own hours.


I'll second that. I'm not 'hiring', but as a freelance web developer I'm always open to people working with me for an hourly rate.

EDIT: and while I don't currently have a steady stream of work available, when I do, I favor working with people who for whatever reason have trouble finding or keeping 'normal' work (having dealt with my own share of issues in this area).


I'm truly sorry to hear that.

I don't see why narcolepsy should be a problem, especially in our area. I mean sure, meetings and stuff like that might be harder to do, but our industry is/should be lenient to things like office hours. There have been tons of times where I go to the office at "late hours" (e.g. 1+ PM), and as long as I turn in my deliverables on time (or let my lead know I won't be able to), there is no issue.

So again, very sorry to hear that.

Also, if I may, I would like to give you the following suggestion.

What about, instead of porting something and then writing about it for the PR, why not take the lowest hanging fruit you can find and do some local web dev/mobile dev, even if you only get a small fraction of the money you need each month.

I am saying this not without reason. I have a friend that is doing bad financially, and doing only one gig that got him around 1k USD (different country and situation of course, but at the current exchange rate, it's about that amount) gave him some hope.

And the thing is that he got a big relief when he saw with his own eyes that he could basically turn code into money. Not enough money necessarily, but at least some amount. That in turn lowered his stress and things started to look less bleak.

Just to tell a bit of his situation: he has kids and a wife that for medical reasons as well, can't work, so he is the sole wage earner at home. His job is very likely going to end soon, and has about 1 month runway.

So just in case you check back the comments, and if you are willing to take some random advice from a random guy on the Internets, why not try this? Just take a gig, very very simple one you can find through friends, your local laundromat/liquor store/etc, family, that consists of doing a simple but sleek-looking webpage or something very low hanging-fruity, and after you get your first few bucks, rinse and repeat.

Hopefully the boost in morale will be enough to get you to try maybe a bigger gig, etc, or at least buy you some time while you get to find another job.

Sorry if this is of no use to you, since I know that this route might not afford you the medical care you need and that definitely sucks. But I truly feel you and I was hoping I could chip in at least a very very minor idea in case it's helpful in any way.

Not sure what else to say except to try to keep going as hard as you can, and that I can definitely lend an ear if you are so inclined (let me know and I can send you an email or something). If not, I sincerely hope things get better soon.


    I don't see why narcolepsy should be a problem, especially in our area. I mean sure, meetings and stuff like that might be harder to do, but our industry is/should be lenient to things like office hours.
I blame scrum. Or, more specifically, people who drink the cool-aid and don't understand the actual purpose.

I've interviewed at I-don't-even-remember-how-many companies that claim to offer extremely flexible hours, or don't care about telecommuting, just make sure you deliver... until you tell them that you can't promise to be there for the daily stand-up at 9am. This is typically justified by "it's only one meeting a day!", but if that one meeting is in the middle of the night for you because you work in a different time zone, or you can't make it in till 10 because you've got kids to take care of, etc., etc.... that doesn't really seem so reasonable anymore.


Code up an "instant stand-up" team status web page, such that everyone on the team can see at a glance what everyone else is doing, what they just finished, and whether they have any blocks. Update your status once per day.

Congratulations, you have now saved 10 minutes per day for everyone in the office. Oops, now they have to come up with some other reason for everyone to be physically present at 9 AM sharp.

"Flexible hours" have always been BS at almost every company I have worked for.


> Code up an "instant stand-up" team status web page, such that everyone on the team can see at a glance what everyone else is doing, what they just finished, and whether they have any blocks. Update your status once per day.

Basically, kanban, sure; but you've also missed what is (IMO) the main values provided by the "Daily Scrum", and the reason something like it is useful even in systems that use better methods for communicating status of progress items:

1. Coordination and conflict resolution on next tasks, and 2. Early and rapid identification (and, ideally, resolution or escalation) of barriers/issues.

(That's not to say that there aren't ways other than a daily in-person meeting that could be proposed to meet these goals, just that a status board doesn't replace the functionality of the Daily Scrum.)


I haven't had many positive experiences with daily stand-ups, so I'm heavily biased against them.

For the record, I didn't like doing oral reports in front of the entire class in school, either.


I second this (with absolute 0 expertise in the matter). If the problem is a lack of hope, then doing things that demonstrate to yourself that you are in control of the problem should be a big help.


I am not sure of your location (US, etc.) but I would imagine that you might be able to get unemployment benefits, which I hope would help tide you over financially at a minimal level while you focus on the next steps. Again, assuming US location: you might be able to use COBRA or a plan from healthcare.gov to help you continue the medications that you need.

Regardless, I hope you are able to recover from this setback and do better than ever. Please don't lose hope - there is always an option.


Depending on the actual terms of the termination he may not be eligible for unemployment. Chronic lateness might be considered being fired for cause, which typically means you cannot claim UB.


Well, IANAL but given that he has a prescription for the situation that caused him to be late, I can see a case for unemployment. It should be worth filing.


>>It seems like no one else will learn a thing from any of this.

There is a ton to learn from your story.

Most people think retirement is what you do when you get old. Retirement planning begins on the day you get the first pay check of your life. In fact the whole purpose of working should be to eliminate the need to work.

If you are not doing this already. You are sitting on top of risky avalanche which will go downhill any day.


> due to being unable to participate in the 9 to 5 that society expects

As some already mentioned, you are likely covered by ADA - if your company is larger than 15 employees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_disorder


I know a person fired from his Rails dev position who had a sleep issue on the job. They later came under new management and switched to a remote team and let him have his own hours. If you are competent you can do fine with a remote job. You can probably good money and move to a cheaper area.


>> When you arrive at 1pm because you have no memory of waking up and turning off all three of the alarms you'd set

There are some apps that might help you in this regard that require increasingly complex tasks to disable an alarm. (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kog.alarmc...)

It also has an option to resound the alarm 5min after being disabled.

I have used it and it was effective for me even on 'easy' difficulty challenges, though I don't have a condition like yours, just sort of heavy sleeper. If you haven't, you should definately give it a try.


Narcolepsy is a neurological condition that is not solved by a puzzle alarm.


I suppose another person would solve this issue? Or is it an even worse condition than I think it is?


> I suppose another person would solve this issue?

No. The right dose of the right medications for the individual affected might mitigate the issue, but another person wouldn't solve it any more than puzzle alarms would (which is not at all, essentially.)

> Or is it an even worse condition than I think it is?

It is of varying severity, with various interventions available that may mitigate the effects to a greater or lesser extent for some sufferers, but its a different kind of condition than you seem to think it is. That is, its not like being a non-narcoleptic heavy sleeper except superficially to outside observers, at least, based on what I've read and the narcoleptics I've known.


You sound like a pretty interesting guy. Do a Reddit AMA


Your employer sounds like a real piece of shit if they're firing you over a medical condition you're just starting treatment for. If nothing else, they should consent to just deducting your pay for the time you've been sick, but I guess that would mean acknowledging that you're sick and exposing themselves to liability or something. Hang in there.




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