I was unemployed for about four and a half months. The reason why is immaterial; suffice it to say that I was rather terrible at my previous job, and both my former employer and I decided that I probably should stop coming in. So I was on the government tit for 1/3 of the last calendar year; it's not something I'm proud of, but I paid into the goddamn thing, so get off my ass.
Anyway I have recently procured myself gainful employment (my new employer got a nice discount for my copious abilities), and am back among the working stiffs. And although I couldn't be happier about it, I should reflect briefly about my time on the dole.
Do you know what sucks about being unemployed?
- You don't make as much money as you used to.
That's the list. Everything else about it is incredible! I knew when I did get a job, I would have to give up some of the comforts of my freeloading existence. It almost makes me sorry that I'm so charismatic, convincing and qualified.
When you're unemployed, you can get up out of bed whenever the hell you want. What day is it? Tuesday? Nope, it's Saturday. Every day is Saturday. I was shocked to see Judge Judy on TV when I got up instead of college football. One night I couldn't sleep, so I stayed up all night and watched TV until the sun came up. Then I went to bed around 11am and slept all day. Just like the old joke about the dog being able to lick itself, it was because I could.
This is true: one day I woke up and thought it was Thursday all day long, but instead it was Friday. Oh to have that kind of blissful ignorance at work!
There were times I needed to get to the bank (although I'm not sure why since they really didn't have anything for me) or the post office or wherever else. I didn't have to wait until my lunch break, or get up wicked early or rush there after work. I could get up, make some coffee, edit a few Wikipedia pages (okay, like a hundred of them) and go whenever I felt like it. Showering was strictly optional, though greatly appreciated.
If I wanted to go to a coffee shop or a diner or a book store, I could just get up and go LIT'RALLY any time I wanted to. (Granted, I never did any of those things, but you can imagine the possibilities!) Hit a matinee? Grab a beer at 12:30pm? Stay in bed? You're goddamn right.
I guess there are a couple downsides: when people ask what you do, you have to tell them you're unemployed or "between jobs," which always elicits a combination of sympathy and pretending it's okay. (When met someone and told her I was unemployed, she replied, "That's understandable." Bless her heart.) Also telling everyone you are out of work is pretty humbling; it usually comes up right after they told you they finally broke down and bought that solid gold front door.
Also, no round of drinks is truly on you: it's on Andrew Cuomo.
There is a certain level of despair, too, that comes with joblessness. It is a major blow to the ego, which is why (I'm guessing) that so many people lack the gumption to get up and find a gig. I know that I took my sweet-ass time (read: the holidays and a few weeks after New Year's) before I got my bee-hind out there looking for work. I had a total of three interviews: I was turned down for the first, I withdrew from the second, and I nailed the third. But my confidence took a big hit, and I knew it at the time. It was the kind of thing where I had to sit in my car for twenty minutes before every interview to simultaneously psych myself up and calm myself down. I can completely understand why people stay home on the couch instead of getting out there and looking for work: I did it too.
There is also a certain degree of loneliness you get when all your friends are at work and you are at home by yourself. There were days on end where I never left the house. Days fly off the calendar and you make not one dent in the world. That part stinks too I guess. But I would highly recommend taking a few months off if possible to decompress, get your head back in order, and get the "itch" to work again. Because before long, the itch becomes like a rash. The impetus to be around other people is also a surprising motivator.
But these days, as another working schnook, I have to get up before 8am(!), shower, put on pants(!!!) and show up to a place promptly in order to get a paycheck and not get yelled at. Isn't that really the Amer'can Dream right there? I like my new gig a lot so far, I just hope I'm good at it.
No I'm not doing play-by-play for Bills games, or working in a brewery, or writing for The Source, or any other dream job I had when I was a high school senior. But a j.o.b. of any type is nothing to sneeze at. It's not just the fact that they give you money for showing up, but it rekindles some sense of your own worth. I feel really bad for people who struggle to find jobs for whatever reason: no experience, lack of interviewing skills, lack of networks. It has to be maddening. I got very lucky that I fooled someone into thinking I'd be a good hire.
I don't know what the hell the point of any of this was. Oh well. Happy Easter folks.