We sometimes hear people — always people who are fortunate enough to have jobs — speculate that many people receiving unemployment benefits really don't want to work.
These people, they say, are simply content to sit back and collect checks until their benefits run out.
That probably happens, but they are likely the people who were shiftless and lazy before this recession started and will remain so when it's over.
But we refuse to believe that about most Americans.
That belief was confirmed last week by an extraordinary outpouring of support that accompanied the story of one unemployed American.
Dominick Brocato of Kansas City is one of more than 70 people who told their stories to DW Bison for his book and documentary film "Not Working."
His story appeared on the website of the New York Times.
Briefly, Brocato is 58, has lived in Kansas City all his life, and his appearance remains immaculate, according to Gibson's introduction.
He spent 20 years as a human resources supervisor at DST System, a tech company with 11,000 employees whose website says its "most valuable asset is the dedication of its associates."
In 2009 a new CEO arrived with a new idea: reorganize, restructure and eliminate employees.
In February of 2010, Brocato got the call he feared and his career was over.
Then he began doing everything right: He joined job clubs, went back to school, got advanced training, put in resumes, networked and went on interviews.
Two years later he was still looking for work.
Now he's told companies are not interested in anyone over 50 or anyone who has been unemployed for more than six months.
Recently a rare cancer he had overcome in 2007 returned. Now he is without medical insurance or a job.
But the saddest thing about his story in the Times was what followed: screen after screen after screen of comments, Americans telling their own heart-wrenching stories of unemployment.
The stories flow like an endless river of personal anguish.
One commenter said he was being trained for a job that may allow him to emigrate to Canada, where he can finally get health care for the first time in three years.
Even people with advanced technical degrees told of losing their jobs and being unable to find another. One said an interviewer told her she had the necessary skills but would not be a good "cultural fit," which she took to mean "too old."
Others told of tapping their retirement savings to survive — and paying a 10 percent tax penalty to do so. One hoped to get a job by the end of the year just to pay that tax bill.
One told of applying for a temp job and being told the agency received 300 such applications a day.
"It's a downward spiral," one man wrote, "a death of a thousands cuts. Every day it gets worse."
Sad stories. Frightened people.
But they help us recognize the reality: This recession has left millions of hardworking, experienced people without jobs — many for the first time in their lives — and with little hope of finding one soon.
Millions of other Americans, meanwhile, lie awake at night wondering if they will be next.
The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.