Consoling The Unemployed
I went out to be social out of my home last night and four of the eleven people present were unemployed. It was a good thing there was alcohol.
I have been unemployed on and off for the last ten years. By choice. I could be teaching Spanish to a passel of ungrateful high school students right now. Except that I don’t really care about Spanish – speaking it or teaching it. But I spent time and money learning the trade of teaching, only to pitch it into the compost heap of life. I know it’s crazy. I gave up all that glamour to be an unpaid writer. Go me.
It hasn’t been all leisure, of course. I have been underemployed. I have temped. I have watched people’s children for cash. I have written bullshit ad copy and other weird things for cash. I have worked in a thrift store, which was, by far, the best underemployed job I’ve ever had. If I could be a master of puppets, and change a bunch of things about that job, so I could go back there and work, including assassinating the manager and hiring back all my favorite hilarious people, I would so take that job to the end of my life, digging through thrift store donations and laughing at freaky customers and coming home with new weird shit every night, like 70’s t-shirts and 57 bars of prescription acne soap and every excellent book in the world.
But that’s over. Now I sit at home and play a backstop to my own kid’s needs and the needs of others’ kids, while writing stuff about fake people that I should probably attempt to publish. Every so often, I actually get an I-9 and work a little, again, teaching kids about how awesome it is to make up their own fake people and discuss the fake people others have made up. What a wonderful world we live in that this is possible. How lucky I am.
However, I have a patron, in my sciency-husband. This is why we don’t live under a bridge, because he’s crazy enough to believe in my idea that I should spend my days making up the happenings of my fake people. But not everyone is this fortunate. And it’s taken me many years to get comfortable with my weird pseudo-50’s housewife-loony-woo-woo-unemployed choice. In that sense, let me list some ways you can console the unemployed people you know, beyond using all your connections and networking and resume editing skills (which if you aren’t already doing, get on that, you dick):
1) Take them out to eat and drink. Unemployed people are miserable. They need more pleasure. More endorphins. It’s hard to get out of bed when you really don’t have to. But it’s not really fun to stay in bed, either, when you know you ought to be working. You need more pleasure as a metric and motivation to keep up your will to power, your joie de vivre, your raison d’etre, your [insert French phrase here]. If anyone knows pleasure, it’s those French people.
2) Buy them porn. See above on ‘pleasure.’ This could be literal. Or it could be their personal favorite stuff, like junky tabloid magazines or mystery novels or circus peanuts or the entire box set of Battlestar Galactica.
3) Be An Audience. Let them tell stories about their pathetic misery and laugh with them about it.
4) Shut It With The Advice. Don’t tell them what to do, unless it’s a job lead you have and you have technical instructions. No one wants to do what other people tell them to do. It’s just fundamentally gross.
5) Give them your antidepressants. Seriously. Especially if they don’t have insurance. Depression sucks even when you are employed. People who don’t use pharmaceuticals in this case are really doing themselves a disservice. Science is your friend. You got 80+ years, barring a bus hitting you or some other unforeseen illness. Don’t waste them suffering, especially when the chips are down.