Positive Cynicism – So this is what it’s like to be an unemployed family

Aaron Davis

Aaron R. Davis

It’s been a month now since my wife lost her job. She didn’t get fired after going on a rampage and burning her store to the ground — no matter how many times I encouraged her to — but instead got laid off when her store closed. The crappy company she was employed by for the last decade is slowly going out of business, and she was sadly carried away in the latest rash of store closings.

I’m essentially unemployed, too. Substitute teaching isn’t a real job, in many ways, and with assistants getting laid off all the time, the pool for jobs is larger and larger. So, right now, my wife and I are both finding ourselves with way too much free time on our hands and, outside of job interviews, don’t really have a lot of places we need to be.

So what do we do now that we’re home all the time? They don’t really prepare you for that in the various books on what to do when you’ve been laid off. There’s a lot of good information out there about filing for unemployment and all the other stuff we’ve done, and about trying to find a new job and things we’re doing all the time. But, I’ll be honest, that’s not occupying every waking second for either of us. There is a lot of free time at our disposal right now, but we’ve got to be very careful about the money we spend, because our income has just been decimated.

And, as I’ve gone on about at length, there’s just not much on daytime TV that isn’t going to actually damage your higher thought capabilities.

So here are what I’ve found so far to be the good and the bad things about being unemployed.

Good: no job-stress.

Bad: no-job stress.

My wife’s manager was … well, I know it’s a cliché to say that someone is worse than Hitler, but at least Hitler liked art. This woman was an awful, evil human being who abused her staff emotionally. Many times my wife came home upset, on the verge of tears, comparing working for this woman to being in an abusive marriage. It was impossible for her to relax, and it sometimes took her hours after coming home to detox from the venom of her work situation. Her not having that bullshit in her life anymore is absolutely worth temporary unemployment.

But now she’s so worried about money and employment that she keeps breaking out in hives. Six of one …

Good: no more straining your muscles.

Bad: your muscles atrophy with surprising speed.

My wife’s job often involved moving heavy boxes around. Mine involved standing and herding children all day. With neither of us doing any of that, we’ve been able to relax, but now we find that going to the grocery store or rearranging furniture can be a complex ordeal. Neither of us has the physical strength we used to have because we don’t exercise it every day.

Time to take more walks and play fewer video games. Which brings me to …

Good: more time to play video games.

Bad: we can’t afford Gamefly anymore.

15 bucks a month to have one game out at a time? Come on, I just got hooked on GoldenEye 007 for the Wii! I can’t afford to shell out fifty bucks to buy these damn things! Help me out a little, here! When is Netflix just going to start carrying video games already?

Good: time to catch up on reading.

Bad: the Internet.

Finally, I have time to read Dune again! But I need to tend to FarmVille first, and here are 27 other things that just caught my attention …

Good: more time to sleep.

Bad: losing all concept of time.

If there’s one thing my wife has always had a hard time with, it’s that she’s a night person and I’m a morning person, but she always had to wake up early anyway to go to work. When she was working, we used to go to bed around 11 or midnight. Now, with no set schedule, she likes to stay up until two or three or four in the morning. I can barely even remember what day it is anymore because of it. Guys, as I write this, it’s 5:19 p.m. Central on Monday and this column is basically past due. I actually forgot it was Monday …

And if that’s not bad enough, my wife and I didn’t even wake up until half past noon today! We stayed up all night on Friday, suddenly realizing it was 4:30 in the morning and that we might as well go out to breakfast since the sun was about to come up. This is not a life for a person. I didn’t even realize it was the middle of April until this weekend. Which is especially awful when you take into consideration that Saturday was the last day of April and it’s actually May now. I spent a month thinking it was still March. Now I barely even know what year it is. This can’t be good.

Yeah, to my great surprise, it turns out the real danger of being unemployed isn’t necessarily how hard it is to find a job in a depressed economy, but how much of your time just gets lost to distraction. I’m normally waking up around 10 in the morning now, and by dinner time my body is telling me it’s really just late morning, so why not spend time surfing for Game of Thrones spoilers instead of worrying about dinner.

After all, a job’s just a job, but this is the fate of Westeros we’re talking about. Besides, I’ve got lots of free time, right?

Right?

Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at samuraifrog@yahoo.com.

Comments (1)
  1. ned May 3, 2011

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