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.

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