Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Unemployment Sucks

Most people have a fairly easy decision to make when they wake up each morning: Should I go to work or stay in bed? You want to stay in bed, even if your job is Delicious Candy Taster or Famous Television Personality, because every job has a number of uncomfortable, often painful downsides—that is why you get money for working. Yet, with herculean efforts, we all get out of bed and stagger into the shower and even put on a giant rat suit, if our job is Mascot, because that is what it means to be a full and functioning member of Society. Also, we have bills and sometimes baby mommas to pay so: we go to work.

Unless, of course, we have no work to go to. Then our decisions upon waking up are more numerous, and more fraught. What time is it? What should I do today? Should I look for work? Should I masturbate? I should really look for work today, shouldn't I? How do I do that? Should I masturbate again? If I don't look for work, what should I do? What's on Hulu? How long can I stay inside my apartment before it becomes weird that I haven't left yet? Can I justify buying more weed, even though I don't have a job? MST3K is on Hulu now? What's my dealer's number?

Without a job, our days are completely free and the daily planner applications on our cellphones are useless. You should be refreshing Craigslist every hour, scanning job sites every day for leads, and roaming the streets with your bundle of resumes tucked under your arm. Maybe you do that for a couple of days, or a week, but if you are out of work much longer it becomes harder to convince yourself to look for work. Here's where the problems start.

You start growing a beard, even if you are a woman. You start riding the bus, not to go anywhere, just to have something to do. You never see the friends you have, because they're always at work or doing things that require money. You wear the same clothes for days, because what difference does it make? You start to believe the universe will provide a path for you. It doesn't. You contemplate joining the Navy or the Marines, or hitchhiking around the country. You tell yourself you need to take charge of your life and stare at the wall for several hours. You walk past a guy who is probably selling crack and think, I wonder what that's like, and mean both selling and smoking crack. You chicken out and go home, wondering how long you can go without paying rent. Your unemployment benefits start running out and you start watching homeless people very closely. How do they get by? Could you do that? Are you attractive enough to be a successful prostitute? Do you have to be attractive to be a prostitute?

People with jobs seem mysterious after too much unemployment. You watch them from your seat on the bus. Where are they going? Do they like having jobs? What's a job like? How did they get one? You follow some of them off the bus until they go into a building. This is getting weird, you think. You walk into a fancy restaurant and order thirty dollars of food for yourself, which you can't afford. You fantasize about having sex with the hostess, then you fantasize about being a hostess at a restaurant like this. Then you would meet new people and you could pay rent again! But all of the restaurant jobs in this town require experience. How does one start a career as a restaurant employee, if no one will hire you without experience?

Jesus, you think, what a horrible society we live in, in which all of our value and connection to society is based around what we do for a living! How can we live this way, with our lives so caught up in our relationship to the perverse and cruel capitalist economy? You read some Communist literature online, but it's pretty dense and you give up. You read that unemployment is 10 percent, does that mean 10 percent of people in this country are having the same problems you are? Jesus. What a fucked-up situation. Fucking banks. Fucking mortgages or whatever. You hope someone will give you health insurance soon, because if you get hit by a car right now, your life is pretty much over. That's a pretty grim thought. You check Craigslist again.

(Image stolen from Unemploymentality.)

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