There are times, specifically towards the end of a billing cycle, when unemployed people around the world are just universally impossible to reach. No, they haven’t died, nor have they lost their phones, they’ve just stopped answering them because they’re almost out of minutes and would rather ignore a call and innocently text back going, “What’s up?” than deal with the consequence of picking up a phone call. At $0.40 or higher per minute that exceeds what’s alloted in a cell phone plan, the unemployed just can’t afford to jibber jabber with just anyone.
For many people who have just been laid off, cutting down on cell phone minutes is one of the easiest ways to reduce monthly bills. Back in the day when they had places to go and people to see it made sense to pay $100 per month to have nearly unlimited minutes to gab for hours with even their least favorite acquaintances. But the minute a job is lost, those minutes are cut down in half, or in drastic cases by two-thirds – whatever seems like the best plan to get by and not appear dead to the outside world.
When half of the minutes are spent on hold after calling the unemployment department not much is left for casual conversations. As such, most calls go straight to voicemail which is only checked on nights or weekends. It might be aggravating to never get through to someone, and then not hear back from them until five hours later when calls are free and whatever was relayed in the voicemail becomes irrelevant, but it’s nothing compared to those who actually get through. For example, if mom keeps calling and the unemployed pick up hoping for offers of money to help supplement those delightful unemployment checks, the unemployed who are skint on cell phone minutes are likely to act like an ungrateful child who has no interest in hearing about Mom’s day, or about the neighbors who are up to no good. The “Uh huh, uh huh, listen, I gotta go” is a typical sign off that is sure to grate against the nerves of well-meaning loved ones – but when they don’t get the hint and a conversation rolls over just a few seconds past the minute mark, it’s the unemployed who have to deal with watching one second round up to the next minute. And that hurts.
There’s something about toilet paper that makes it generally acceptable to steal whenever the opportunity presents itself. For the most part, the people who are usually guilty of jacking a roll here and there are college students who have moved into their first apartment and don’t realize how toilet paper comes to find itself on the roll, and unemployed people who just don’t have a budget to buy it anymore. Because of its unsavory duty, toilet paper is one of the first purchases to get cut because the unemployed think to themselves, “I’m not paying for something that I’m just going to flush down the toilet!” As such, the unemployed become toilet paper scavengers, always on the prowl, ready to walk out of a bathroom with suspicious lumps underneath their shirts.
The quest for toilet paper usually happens in public places where the unemployed are less likely to feel guilty about their petty theft. Occasionally the unemployed will grab a roll or two when they visit their parents, or quietly take a roll from a friend’s house if they’re on their last few sheets at home. Although the shame of stealing toilet paper from a friend might make the unemployed keep their distance for a while, it’s completely worth it when they experience the softness of two-ply paper – or quilted if the friends and family are high rollers.
The majority of toilet paper stealing happens in public venues like restaurants, parks, libraries, and office buildings after a job interview. Most established places keep toilet paper in one of those dispensers that tease the unemployed with that second roll that’s ready to drop down once the current roll is finished. Those are dreaded spots because not only can a hand not wedge in there properly, but the toilet paper breaks off two sheets at a time, making for a very frustrating wiping experience. Some places that either operate on trust or employ lazy workers will leave a small supply of toilet paper in the stall or on the counter basically daring the unemployed to go ahead and steal them. While those are easy hits and satisfying since the ultimate goal of building a stash of stolen TP at home is attained, it’s not as good as it could be. Instead, the best spots for the unemployed to strike are the places where bathroom owners take such care to lock up the toilet paper using padlocks or chains. These are a favorite of the unemployed because they have nothing but time to sit themselves down on the toilet and dedicate themselves to slowly unraveling the locked up roll onto an empty toilet paper roll. Joke’s on the padlockers!
Unemployment is rough. Though at times it may seem like it’s all fun and games, taking money from the government to supplement a lifestyle of lounging, traveling, and doing whatever makes the employed feel jealous can be hard on the mind, body, and spirit. Whenever the unemployed start feeling like their paid vacation is starting to make the world close in on them, they will do whatever it takes to find balance in their lives again. After hearing about how their employed friends escape stress, the unemployed begin to feel that they too deserve to pamper themselves to lessen the burden of having the best time ever, courtesy of the government.
When gloriously sleeping in, watching marathon TV all day, and pretending to care about unemployment percentage rates gets to be too much to handle, unemployed people around the world think to themselves, “You know what I really need to do to get myself out of this funk? Put a rock on my head.” Before long, the unemployed are investigating ways they can alleviate the stress they don’t really have. Instead of putting away the video games that have caused repetitive stress injuries, the unemployed decide a massage is necessary to cure the tension having no job has caused. Rather than washing their face regularly to prevent acne breakouts, the jobless treat themselves to expensive facials that are needed to combat the skin damage the unemployed blame on hours in front of the computer monitor, pretending to look for a job. Whether it’s a spa weekend, a meditation retreat, or an undeserved breakfast-in-bed made by an employed significant other, the unemployed can be very creative in their explanations for justifying why they deserve to pamper themselves, including the favorite excuse: Obama would want me to do this.
A great unemployment pastime can be as simple as letting one’s imagination go wild. Whether it’s dreaming about winning the lottery or fantasizing about buying a house, the unemployed can kill ample hours of time just sitting and thinking about elaborate scenarios. However, on the days they don’t want to start off with some of those bigger fantasies that will just result in depression when they’re faced with reality, the unemployed can easily switch off to a more easygoing game everybody loves, thinking about what they would do for a Klondike Bar.
Klondike Bars are frozen treats that are so big and thick there’s no room for a stick. Unlike the classic ice cream sandwich favorite, Klondike Bars are made with a crunchy chocolate shell that breaks into pieces the minute the first bite is taken, and each subsequent bite is complicated with chocolate chards and dripping ice cream. While they might be too messy or too much of a hassle to deal with, having plentiful time to eat one without looking like a total beast is a bonus that could potentially make the unemployed interested in wondering how far they would go for a Klondike Bar.
Ideally, the unemployed would accept payment for a Klondike Bar (unemployment doesn’t count), get sent to eat a Klondike Bar with a polar bear, or have to sit through a paid-for wine tasting course at a spa vacation. Some of the obvious things an unemployed person would do for a Klondike Bar include eating, sleeping, sitting, and playing dead. If someone were kind enough to accept such tasks as reason enough for a treat, the unemployed would have it easy. However, as time goes on and desperation sets in, the unemployed would probably go as far as cleaning up, regularly taking showers, walking a sweater-wearing dog, or building that bookshelf that has sat around for six months – anything for an ice cream sandwich that would otherwise be ignored if the unemployed weren’t so desperate to eat something that doesn’t involve ramen. Whatever scenario they can come up with as far as how low or high they’re willing to go, there are two things the unemployed will not do for a Klondike Bar: get dressed to leave the house to pay for one, or find a job.
One of the things unemployed people are quick to learn besides being patient is being flexible with their time, decisions, and life. For the most part, the ability to make decisions on a whim stems from having already had the rug pulled out from under them when they were laid off. After getting over the shock of losing their job and having to figure out how to get back on their feet with the assistance of those lovely unemployment checks, the jobless have to adapt to having to be ready for whatever life throws at them.
At first, the decisions are hard, such as having to choose between eating and making rent or whether to buy cheap toilet paper or spring for the quilted stuf. Eventually, as unemployment stretches out and people start going with the flow more and actually making lemonade with their lemons, the hard decisions that once boggled them down start becoming easier and easier to make. Part of this is due to the fact that with some minor exceptions, there really is nothing to get in the way of the unemployed. With a seemingless endless amount of time ahead of them, whatever decision they may make that day will not really impact their life.
For example, if presented with the option to go to a free concert or stay in and apply for a really cool job, what’s another day of being jobless? If a friend calls and says she’s going on a random trip to the boonies to hang out in the river with some locals, having the ability to say yes is crucial because the only other choice would be to sweat out the hot day at home alone while watching meaningless television. The decision to say yes to go on an impromptu trip to Target even though everything at home is already stocked up could end up with a very fulfilling day of unemployment with more activities packed into a day than what would normally take weeks or months to do. At the end of the day, opening up and being able to wing it and make the right decision (i.e. whatever is the most fun) will make unemployment just that much less miserable.
Call it life, call it no longer being able to stand your lover’s habit of clipping his/her toenails anywhere he/she wants, but unless you live a fairytale life, there comes a time when some relationships just have to end. Whether it was bound to happen, the stress of living “in this economy” probably did not help the relationship last, especially if the dynamic consisted of one person working and secretly hating their unemployed significant other for getting to sleep in. When it’s time to finally call it quits, the former couple is left to make the tough decision of who has to move out in order to move on.
Normally, a break up involving a live-in couple would involve someone throwing all their ex’s belonging out the window while yelling, “And stay out!” because that’s how normal is portrayed in movies. However, in these “difficult economic times”, a move like that could prove drastic for both parties. If the person staying put is unemployed or fearful of losing their job, chances are being left with the task of paying full rent or the mortgage would result in eviction or foreclosure. For the person who would typically be thrown out, finding a new place without a job or signing a new lease knowing a current job could very well end the next day, could ultimately result in living in a storage unit with their scattered belongings, slumming it with friends, or worse: moving back home with the parents where mom won’t stop speculating about what went wrong.
In the end, more and more ex-couples are finding themselves financially dependent on one another – at least in terms of their living situation. Clothes might be tossed out the window, but then hurriedly reclaimed when the tosser realizes homelessness or other alternatives might be worse off than awkwardly learning to live with an ex. There are plenty of things to discuss such as who is going to sleep where, or if there’s only one bed – whether it can still be shared, how nagging rights are out the window since such investments are no longer relevant, and how they can explain to friends and family about how living together after breaking up is not as crazy as it seems even though secretly they know it is. Sucking it up and taking one for the money team is about all the unemployed can do in such a situation – but the minute either party starts dating, it’s time to turn up the sugar daddy/mama search up a notch and find someone new to hole up with, which everyone knows is the best way to heal.
Unemployed people are people too, so it should not come as a surprise that they like money. Whether it comes from the government or the friends and family they’ve lied to in order to score some cash, the quest for more money without having to work is as continuous as it is urgent. After a few months of exhausting their options, the unemployed eventually turn to complete strangers to begrudgingly supply them with money.
While panhandling has normally been associated with the homeless, the recession has taken begging for money to the internet. This phenomenon is not limited to those Nigerian spam emails asking for money, or scammers on Craigslist trying to fool already desperate renters into nice places with prices too good to be true. Instead, unemployed people are using all mediums of the internet to randomly let strangers know that they have opened up a PayPal account and are gladly accepting donations – preferably from a bank account because credit card transactions cost money.
Usually, the unemployed will test their luck by sharing their hardships in forums, on Facebook, or the unemployment blog they set up specifically to detail their life sans job. Shortly afterwards, as they start to teach themselves how to utilize the internet to their benefit, a PayPal donation button or link will appear in various forms, each one slightly different from the other to attract different kinds of potential donators. At first, the button serves as a silent request for money – but as a day or two goes without a single donation, the unemployed will be more vocal about the PayPal account’s existence:
“Hi readers, some of you may have noticed the PayPal button on the sidebar. Just a friendly reminder that this site doesn’t run itself! So if you guys want to keep reading about my day-to-day unemployment, I would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to make a donation. All donations welcome!”
When this approach doesn’t work, the unemployed resort to making their PayPal donation buttons bigger and bigger until they take up more of the screen than the actual content. Then they start adding a donation link in their email signatures and hit up people they haven’t communicated with in years, all in hopes that someone, anyone will finally click and donate something worthwhile. When the unemployed claim that all donations are welcome, they’re lying. They only want substantial donations, preferably ones that trump their unemployment checks – anything that will help them pay off their smartphone bill or fund a luxury vacation. It is their hope that readers will enjoy their site so much that they will gladly give money away to a complete stranger, not quite understanding that those readers are probably also jobless. When all else fails, a black marker and a scrap of cardboard may be the next best bet.