You know that feeling you get when you walk into an employed person’s home and realize furniture comes in other colors besides birch and doesn’t require being pieced together with stripped pegs and allen wrenches? It’s called envy, and the unemployed dream of a day when their belongings aren’t just a bunch of random IKEA pieces with broken hinges, scuffs and really embarrassing bumper stickers and when they can tell admiring friends, “Oh thank you, I specifically chose this to match the curtains which match this obscure and totally useless vase.”
Looking back, there was always a place and time in our lives when IKEA furniture just made sense. It’s functional, the price is usually right and there’s just something so satisfying about graduating from plastic bins that display our underwear to the world to real furniture. Going to IKEA for hours at a time to find the perfect EKTORP was just as exciting as finding a ditched MALM on the street or perusing Craigslist to find a cheap LEKSVIK. It didn’t matter what each item’s true purpose was for because we were so excited to have furniture that we would hoard it and find a way to use it.
Unfortunately, IKEA furniture always seems like a better idea than it really is. After factoring in shipping costs and troublesome assembly time, we’re left realizing we could have bought a piece of adult furniture for the same price. And there is a difference between real furniture and adult furniture. It’s something the unemployed know all too well as they sit on a dangerously unstable ÄPPLARÖ that rocks not because it was designed to, but because there are so many missing pieces from improper assembly and because it’s just so old. Adult furniture is meant to last a while and is to be properly cared for so it can stay in the family unlike IKEA furniture that is all too often pawned off to friends during a move or otherwise disposed of in the street for some (un)fortunate soul to take in.
Nice furniture is something the unemployed always hoped they would graduate to next before they ended up losing their jobs. Before and after getting laid off they would be that creep at Crate and Barrel lounging in the bed that reads “Please do not sit on display bed” just wishing they could afford even one item in the store. Anything to make it look like they weren’t still in college. Embarrassed by their furniture they tell friends, ”If you don’t mind the risk of flipping over in that broken papasan chair, you’re more than welcome to come over.” Some day their dream will be realized. Until then, don’t be surprised to find the jobless sitting on the floor where there’s less chance for getting splinters.
Back in the day when people had busy lives and jobs they would find themselves completely out of suitable clothes to wear and then be forced to spend all day doing laundry. During that time, if anyone came to the door, whether it was the mailman or an unexpected friend, the laundry-doer would feel compelled to yell, “It’s laundry day!” It was the only way to explain how they came to be dressed in a mismatching disaster of spandex shorts, ill-fitting t-shirts, granny panties and no bra because there was absolutely nothing else to wear.
Unfortunately unemployment has a tendency to bring out the fashion beast in all of us, making the unemployed perfect candidates for “What Not to Wear”. After gathering enough pieces to to assemble a core unemployment suit and realizing there’s very little reason to get dressed let alone dressed up every day, the unemployed eventually phase out their socially appropriate attire in exchange for unspeakable atrocities like a green Google shirt mixed with orange and purple gym shorts from high school.
With most days spent at home, somewhere between looking for work, freaking out about having no money and wallowing in front of the TV in a fit of despair, the unemployed tend to go through their raggedy clothing surprisingly quick. The free shirts, because of their large sizes, usually are the first to go. Then, the shirts with holes followed by the shirts that should have been shredded into rags long ago. Match those tops with a pair of cut-off sweat shorts or your best pair of ”for painting” jeans and you’re good to go if by go you mean lie on the couch.
The outfits that the unemployed once wouldn’t be caught dead in have suddenly become an everyday thing. Admit it – look down at what you’re wearing and ask yourself, “Would I have worn this outside a year ago?” If you say yes, you’re probably lying. At first, you dare to leave your house in your “laundry day” clothes to make a dash towards the mailbox, which becomes a quick trip to the post office, until it escalates into fully immersing yourself in public in such outfits.
Then, it suddenly becomes laundry day and not even because there’s no more clothes left. There are just no more comfortable items to wear. In the closet hangs a bunch of perfectly suitable things to wear, but the unemployed just forlornly look in their dirty laundry pile at that super ugly but super comfortable shirt and wish it was clean. They might have even previously dug that shirt out of the hamper to give it one last wear before washing it. In a sort of reverse desperation, the unemployed have no choice but to reach for their ::shudder:: work clothes and head out to the laundromat to wash a bunch of rags all dressed in business casual. When 90% of your laundry is your former gym clothes, you know it’s time to get a job.
Some Republican senator claimed that most unemployed people on the dole don’t even begin looking for jobs until their unemployment insurance runs out, and because of that, he voted against another emergency unemployment extension. First of all, Senator, thank you for reading this site to do your research, because for once, you were right. Second of all, thanks to all the OTHER law makers who voted to pass yet another extension, thereby delaying our demise once again.
Unemployment extension news is hard to keep up with. One moment Congress is against it, then they go on vacation, come back, and suddenly the unemployed get another lucky break. When the recession first started, there was what, one extension? Now there are four or five with that mysterious FED-ED extension that may not exist? Congress is talking about extending the filing dates for extensions, not actually adding new extensions? Whaaat? It’s all very confusing, and to deal with it, the unemployed did exactly what that senator claimed: they kept on collecting their unemployment checks while putting off the job search, banking on their elected officials to tack on more weeks of free money.
For many, the end is near or already here. With every new extension and Congress vote to fund the extensions, those who sat back to enjoy the ride avoided thinking about life without unemployment checks. Then one day, they woke up on the ”wallow and feel self-pity” side of bed and realized, “Holy crap, it’s been a year and a half!” After living off government generosity for 13-week intervals at a time, the unemployed counted backwards to that happy moment when they ripped open their first unemployment check and realized that well is drying up. Fast.
With a recession dating back to 2007, a 99-week maximum for unemployment benefits and no clue as to whether an extension will be granted come June 7, the job search is on. Unemployed job seekers face the harsh reality that it’s still really hard to find a job. While pouring through job ads and spamming their resume anywhere and everywhere, they’re kicking themselves for not having been so aggressive sooner. With only so much time left collecting unemployment, and zero responses to their applications, they spend sleepless nights fretting over what the future holds for them. Will they make rent? Will they learn what it’s like to struggle? Will they have to downgrade from Match.com to OkCupid.com and sift through the pool of fellow penniless dating prospects?
It’s this kind of stress that makes the unemployed feel like they deserve a break. They tell themselves, “Even if I had started applying earlier, I’d probably be in the same boat.” Rather than dwelling on the fact that they’ll never know, the unemployed are going to take advantage of those last couple of unemployment checks, suspend the job search and go on a mini-vacation. Only after can they REALLY concentrate on getting a good job. But maybe they’ll wait to hear if there’s been another extension first.
Has being on the road these days ever made you think you were part of some larger conspiracy? One that made you feel slightly crazier than normal, and just that much more prone to road rage? Have you experienced being on the freeway in the middle of the day when it’s nowhere near rush hour but you find yourself unable to get anywhere because you’re boxed in by a bunch of cars going no more than 65 mph? Has every stop sign become a nightmare because you find yourself slamming on the breaks when the car in front of you makes a full and complete stop when you expected them to slowly roll through it? Do yellow lights no longer mean “go faster” now that the car in front of you interprets them as “slow down even though you know this light will stay yellow for the next ten seconds” and keeps you from crossing the intersection? You are not alone.
With camera flashes blinding folks as they run red lights, signs that remind lone drivers how much carpool violations cost, and cash-strapped counties setting up sting operations to check if people stop for pedestrians, there is no room for the unemployed to be racking up traffic tickets for any offenses, no matter how minor. As if it weren’t bad enough to be stripped of their jobs, the unemployed have found themselves unable to enjoy the simple things in life such as driving like they own the road, mouthing off to cops that give them tickets, and begrudgingly paying for fines that have increased tenfold due to lack of payment. Now they’re just left driving in paranoia, unable to remember what a dotted and solid line mean in conjunction, whether a yellow speed limit sign has to be followed, and if it’s acceptable to give that obnoxious hipster riding around on a unicycle a gentle “love tap” with the car.
All of the uncertainty culminates in the unemployed driving at or below the speed limit, constantly braking because they don’t know what to do, blinding people with their headlights during the day because they don’t want to risk forgetting to turn them on at night, and just generally inciting rage in those forced to be in the same car or same street as them. Unemployed drivers are usually easy to spot: they’re the ones doing something stupid on the road wearing an unemployment suit, back seat driving while doling out little pearls of criticism from the DMV Handbook, and drawing glares from everyone around them. If you happen to see an unemployed driver, do them and everyone else a favor, honk incessantly, shout excessively, and throw a packet of bus tickets at them. Do whatever it takes to get them off the road until this whole recession thing blows over and they can stop driving around like uptight grannies.
Most well-meaning people set out to start off the new year with a clean slate, vowing to quit this or start that – anything that will make them a better person. But it’s well known that resolutions were meant to be broken so this December, all of the unemployed people who still haven’t had enough of their year of unemployment but also don’t want people to catch on to their jobless glee, have basically told everyone that their new year’s resolution is to get a job in 2010.
The thing about telling someone about this particular resolution is that they can’t really call you out on it. Telling someone you’re going to quit smoking, for example, might garner a crowd full of guffaws but very seriously resolving to find a new job will probably result in a lot of “Man, I hope so” and “Best of luck, let me know if I can help.” No one would dare say to someone, “Yeah right, that’s one resolution that’s never going to happen.”
Of course, a good chunk of unemployed people are probably counting on 2010 as being the year of hope and recovery, and really will try to find a job in the next twelve months. Then the rest of us will continue to do what we do best to ensure our little paid vacation will stretch as long as possible using their tried and true methods of avoiding getting hired by either pretending to look for a job or sabatoging their only interview in months. Here´s to a new year and new laws that lead to endless unemployment benefits!
Halloween 2008 was probably one of the final blowouts the now-unemployed had in the past year. Chances are it was the last time people had the opportunity to party hard before doomsday reports, job losses, and a massive downsizing in money and fun took over in 2009. With pitiful signs of recovery and people just being sick and tired of feeling like they shouldn’t have a good time, the unemployed are determined not to let their empty pockets get in the way of celebrating this Halloween.
After nearly a year of learning how to stretch a dollar and get creative with less money, the unemployed are prepared to hit the streets with their elaborate and hard-hitting costumes. Not willing to be left out, the unemployed are reaching into their closets to dig out old costumes, recycling bits and pieces from friends’ wardrobes, and hitting up Goodwill and thrift stores to supplement whatever they can’t find to complete a brilliant outfit. Sure, brilliant might be a stretch, but when it comes to being nonsensical, weird, and just plain creepy, the unemployed are ready and willing to be a Halloween hit.
Some tips to celebrate Halloween cheaply and successfully this year:
- If you own or know any kids, exploit them. Use their toys, onesies, or last year’s costumes to make an ill-fitting Halloween costume. Floaties, a couple shovels, some buckets, and a deflated beach ball later, and you’re creepy, half-naked…Listen, nobody knows what the hell you are.
- Carry around a cup with a few starter pennies and say you’re a panhandler. When people laugh, give them a hard stare and say, “Seriously, give me some change. I’m broke.”
- Don’t be afraid to expose your underwear. In fact, people love showing extra skin on Halloween; it’s tradition. So, slap on strategically placed black and yellow stripes and call yourself a slutty bee. It’ll be an instant success!
- If you have an alcoholic beverage and tag “drunken” in front of anything, you got yourself a costume. Show up wearing your unemployment suit, and say you’re a drunken unemployed person. People will think it’s a riot – you can leave out the part about you starting off the night drinking alone.
- To avoid feeling guilty about having no candy to hand out this year, put an empty bowl out with a sign that reads “Be responsible and help yourself” and let everyone think some jerk ruined it all for everyone.
- Do some trick-or-treating yourself. Stop at every house on the way to your party to fill up on some candy. “In this economy,” people are bound to forgive overgrown adults for just wanting some candy. If they don’t comply, ask them for some adult candy and hold out your flask to be topped up. At that point, what have you got to lose?
For generations people have fallen for that whole “work hard in school to get a good job” bull crap that is starting to sound more and more like a line of lies these days. After hitting the books and taking the smart people classes to avoid turning out like Jimmy, the town screw-up who never went to college, the unemployed have taken to staring blankly at their diplomas and asking themselves, “Is that all there is?”
Many people went to college for various reasons: to work hard for the rest of their lives, to get drunk, to get away from home, etc. No matter which path they took, whether they actually earned the degree or had Daddy pay for it so they could eventually become president some day, the idea was that a college diploma would help them find better jobs than the ones they had in high school. And, of course, the notion that sacrificing fun for studying would lead to getting into a better college and thus, better jobs, always drove people to work harder and even pursue advanced degrees.
After accumulating years of debt and being unable to answer haunting questions such, “Why did I major in dance?” the unemployed are struggling to make sense of what went wrong. Sure, they might have taken their college years for granted, deciding to party instead of actually studying. But at the end of it all, they still walked away with the same piece of paper as everyone who actually secreted blood, sweat, and tears to graduate. The diploma alone should have guaranteed at least some form of mind-numbing employment, right? Unfortunately, recent graduates, or people who’ve been booted out of the work force are finding that having something to “fall back on” could have easily been their ability to tie an apron around their waist and say, “Welcome to Starbucks, what kind of overpriced coffee beverage would you like to order to jump start your employed day?”
With national health care being widely debated in these here United States of America, plenty of unemployed people have their own way of dealing with a lack of health insurance: cramming in as many visits and tests as possible before their coverage ends either due to a lay off, a spouse’s job loss, or graduating from college and being way too old to qualify under a parent’s plan. Regardless of whether they choose to go with an individual health care plan, have a shotgun wedding with a total stranger for his/her benefits, or skip on insurance altogether, the unemployed definitely do what they can to make the most out of their remaining health plan.
The minute a pink slip is handed in, the soon-to-be-unemployed jump on the phone and try to schedule a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible. If they have the “fortune” to get laid off early in the month, they have that much more time to see a doctor before having the responsibility of paying 100% of their bill. If not, the unemployed will lie through their teeth about some sort of vague infection to get a chance to see the doctor. Once in, the unemployed will go through a giant list of stuff they want to get checked out, what vaccinations they’d like to have shot into their arms all at once, and ask for as many prescriptions as they can just so they can avoid future visits because of those dreaded co-pays. After getting their tests done and hoping for the best that no lab results will be negative enough for them to become disqualified for future health insurance, the unemployed will start figuring out their next plan: going to quack doctors, figuring out who will marry them, and raiding everybody’s medicine cabinets to supplement their unfilled prescriptions.
With Labor Day over and the majority of America winding down their summers, there may have been a certain sect of people (jobless) who made employed people wish they had more than one lousy day off to celebrate their contributions to society and the economy. Having no job was hardly an issue to keep the unemployed from celebrating this Labor Day harder than any previous Labor Day they’ve had. Even more so than when they were mere students without jobs, the unemployed decided that nothing was going to keep them from barbeques, pool parties, or road trips starting Thursday and ending Tuesday to avoid laborer traffic. The motto this fine September day was: We don’t have jobs but we do have the will, the means, and the endless summer vacation to party harder than all you employed people out there!
Recognizing that it was almost silly to celebrate a day honoring workers when no work has been sought in months only made the unemployed more intense about their Labor Day celebrations. They showed up to barbeques dressed up all in white in ensembles that were no doubt picked up in a hurry from their favorite thrift store or they overstayed their welcome at their friend’s pool party – even demanding that the heater be turned on at 2am despite the fact that everyone already left much earlier to face work after a long weekend. Mostly, the unemployed did whatever they could to be obnoxious about their unemployment, doing things like declaring that they would continue to wear white after Labor Day because that fashion faux pas rule doesn’t apply when no one can see them lounging at home. They also took to bragging to everyone how they too were taking Labor Day weekend off from their job search jobs, unemployment blogging jobs, and errand running jobs so they could relax and take the day off even though they have no pressure to be productive people. Though they might have “worked” through prior holidays, it takes something like Labor Day for them to really appreciate time off from work after a year of unemployment.
When rich kids want to look cool, they shop at thrift stores to look poor. When unemployed people want to look clothed, they shop at thrift stores so they don’t get arrested for wearing nothing but their tattered former company’s t-shirt and dirty socks. Thrift stores, “in this economy”, are the unemployed’s best friend when it comes to getting what they need for relatively cheap.
Rather than buy something at full retail price or surf Craigslist’s free stuff section for days on end trolling for a microwave or cute (read: ugly) dress, the unemployed will sometimes bite the bullet and head to their local thrift store as a compromise. Although futilely searching online in hopes that someone will cough it up for free is obviously the cheapest way to go about getting stuff, going thrifting is often a better way to kill a lot of time while saving a bit of money. Depending on who runs the thrift store, the experience can either be very corporate or very “what the hell?” where the unemployed have to spend half an hour sifting through a box of broken can openers to get to whatever they’re looking for – a winter coat in the middle of summer.
If the unemployed are not afraid of soiling their hands, they could very well spend hours sifting through a mess in their quest for the perfect outfit for less than ten dollars. Although it can be daunting for someone who never considered wearing used clothing prior to becoming down on their luck, the idea of saving money while also obtaining street cred for wearing vintage stuff is enough to drive the unemployed into becoming expert thrifters. The thrill of the chase becomes addictive and soon enough the unemployed are hooked on buying used goods ranging from smelly books to eclectic dish sets with high lead content from the 1970s to muumuu’s for those stay-in-bed lady days to board games with missing pieces. When a certain old smell starts to emanate from the unemployed’s belongings, it becomes pretty clear that from that point forward, no thrift store can be passed without the unemployed having to step inside “just to look” for things they no longer need but want to get anyway because shopping at thrift stores is just that cool.