Monday, September 18, 2006

Unemployment: Why I don’t recommend it

1) It’s exhausting. Finding a new job is a full-time job, with all those emails and phone calls and more emails and more phone calls and even more phone calls and adding all those damn accents to résumé and going on interviews and dressing for interviews, which is the most stressful part as far as I’m concerned because it’s advertising and nobody wears a suit in advertising so if you show up in a suit it might look like you’re totally out of touch with advertising but if you show up in something other than a suit you might look like you need to show some damn respect which is the wrong impression to give for a first impression, at least at a job interview.

2) It’s exhausting part two. You spend half your energy convincing people you’re not going to need therapy and a 24-hour suicide watch. Really, people. I lost a job. Not a limb. Not a relative. Not a supermodel’s phone number. Yes, it sucks. But no, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, the timing is bad. But there rarely is a perfect time to be laid off. No, it didn’t happen on my terms and I didn’t get a goodbye party and a card signed by everyone the routing folder managed to make it to on my last day. But I had a good six-year run and I’m actually excited about what adventures the future holds. And I got severance, so I have a little time to explore options I never even considered. I’m a smart boy with lots of friends and more connections than I even realized I had. And I can be so charming at an interview you wouldn’t even recognize me. I’ll find another job. Thank you very much for your concern, but you can save your tears for Suri Cruise. That poor thing has problems.

3) It’s complicated. I went to the unemployment office the day after the layoffs. I filled out the paperwork. I listened as the guy explained what I needed to do. I took notes. I assume the whole process was designed to be so easy that even uneducated laborers with language barriers can figure it out. Yet I still don’t get it. And, quite frankly, I’m a little freaked out at the prospect of calling the system to check in on my first designated call day. Maybe I should revise that “smart boy” statement from section 2 …

4) There’s no structure. I like structure. I’m used to structure. (Hell, I even shopped at Structure before it turned into Express Men. But let’s just keep that as our little secret, shall we?) My day used to play out thusly: Alarm. NPR. Breakfast. Shower. Bus. (Or train if I was feeling like mixing it up.) Work. Work out. Lunch at desk. Work. Bus. (Or train if I was feeling like mixing it up.) Home. Evening activities. Sleep. Rinse and repeat. Now that I’m unemployed, my days play out like the first chapter of The Sound and the Fury where poor little Benjy tries to explain what happened but he just fords aimlessly through every stream of consciousness he can find. And where there’s no structure, I can lose entire days in a fog of cereal and CSI reruns.

5) There’s no structure part two. How much free time have I had since the layoffs? How many blog posts have I made? I rest my case.

6) You start to think poor. I sang at a conference Saturday afternoon. There was an hour-and-a-half break between sets. I was hungry. I bought a muffin at the little muffin vendor to help me kill time. It was $3. I spent waaaaay too much time thinking about how the unemployed really shouldn’t spend $3 on a muffin.

7) You become a food hoarder. I also ran in the AIDS Run/Walk 5K Saturday morning. There were free bananas and oranges and breakfast bars and energy drinks after the run. I filled my backpack. If there had been free soup, I would have lined my backpack with tin foil to try to get it home as well.

8) You have to write thank-you notes. People have been crawling out of the crawl space where I thought I’d buried them woodwork to give me job leads and referrals and words of encouragements and offers of help and actual interviews since mere moments after the layoffs. I’m gonna have to write so many thank-you notes when this is over, my hand is already starting to cramp.

10) Your professional skills atrophy. For instance, I have forgotten how to count to 10.

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