My Photo
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States

Doing my part to irritate Republicans, fundamentalists, bigots and other lower life forms.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Unemployment: The good, the bad and the very ugly

Those who have followed this blog over the past few months may have noticed the occasional references I've made to being unemployed - a situation that sucks at any age, but is an exceptional pain in the ass if you're over 40 and competing against obnoxiously perky recent college graduates who will cheerfully work for peanuts and have no notion of the meaning of the word "mortgage."

Now I can report that just two weeks short of the last of six-month's worth of unemployment checks, I have managed to secure employment. The interval between the end of my last job (in which my entire department was cut in what's euphemistically called a "strategic restructuring") and the 11th hour reprieve from destitution by the arrival of today's job offer is a period I've come to refer to as "God's little reminder to simply your life and learn the meaning of 'frugality'."

Knowing that, despite the rosy picture painted by King George the Lesser, the economy sucks shit through a straw, I thought I'd pass along my thoughts on the upside and downside of unemployment for those who are in similar situations. (And believe me, with another three years of Captain Pretzel in charge of the ship of state, that could be a substantial number of us!)

Upside: Learning that, in a pinch, peanut butter can be substituted for margarine when making one of those cheap boxes of macaroni and cheese.

Downside: Eating macaroni and cheese made with peanut butter.

Upside: Having time to help friends with their projects.

Downside: Having friends who know you have free time and taking full advantage of it.

Upside: Sleeping in on a weekday.

Downside: Being jarred out of bed by Mr. Psycho Roommate screaming at Sammy (a.k.a. Osama bin Kitty) for shredding a roll of paper towels all over the kitchen.

Upside: Having time for a social life.

Downside: Trying to come up with creative ways of telling perspective dates that you'd rather go to a movie on a Wednesday night because that's the day the unemployment check arrives.

Upside: Sending out 67 resumes and only getting three interviews helps build character in the face of adversity.

Downside: Sending out 67 resumes and only getting three interviews is depressing as hell.

Upside: Now I have time to work on all those projects I've been putting off.

Downside: Between trying to find enough jobs to apply for to keep the vaguely humanoid automatons at the unemployment office off my back and then sitting around and moping because of the umpteenth "thanks, but no thanks" letter, who gives a rats ass whether the trim around the house gets painted or not.

Upside: I get to spend quality time with my four-legged kids, Sheldon the collie/samoyed mix, and Gypsy, the white German shepard.

Downside: I now have more opportunities to clean up the mess when Gypsy, who's an octogenarian in dog years, can't quite make it to the kitchen door.

Upside: I can do my shopping during the day when most people are at work and the lines at the checkout stands are shorter.

Downside: Old people shop during the day and any time savings is quickly gobbled up by a member of the blue-hair brigade ahead of me who insists that the clerk cheated her by overcharging for that can of pork and beans or failed to rung up the double coupons.

Upside: Having an 11-second commute between my easy chair and my computer.

Downside: Knowing that regardless of how much I fix up my computer and desk to resemble an office I'm still at home, as evidenced by the incessant sound of Mr. Psycho Roommate's television tuned to back-to-back episodes of Judge Judy, The People's Court, Judge Alex and Divorce Court in the background.

Upside: Having time to spend with my parents.

Downside: Answering some variation of "How's the job hunt going?" at least 50 times from my father (who watches FOX News constantly and thus is certain the economy is in great shape ... so what's the problem with you?)

Upside: Being able to determine for oneself if store brands really are as good as name brands.

Downside: Making a trip to the drug store for a quick remedy when that cheap brand of fabric softener results in a rash.

Upside: Dressing for comfort ... usually in a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt.

Downside: It took me 17 minutes to remember how to tie a necktie while getting ready for the job interview today.

Upside: I can spend all afternoon at the library browsing for books I can check out for free.

Downside: Being cruised at a library by a homeless person in sweat pants and a t-shirt more ragged than mine.

Upside: Learning to be frugal by shopping in thrift stores.

Downside: Never quite getting over the fear that someone may have actually died in the pair of used jeans I'm trying on.

Upside: Gaining a new understanding of what it means to be poor in America.

Downside: Never being able to pass one of those food pantry donation barrels without feeling guilty if I don't drop a least a can of corn in the barrel. (But come to think of it, that's a good thing, too.)