The Joy of Employment

by Beauty

Ah, July. Everyone’s thinking of their vacation plans, no doubt. And why shouldn’t they, when the days are long and everyone else is taking time off to travel, work on their tan, and/or relax while piling some extra work on you for the week. If you’re like me, however, you’ll be making plans of a different sort. I’m unemployed and looking for work.

Unemployed is a dirty word. For many people, it’s practically synonymous with lazy. My Microsoft Word thesaurus offers these alternatives: “without a job, jobless, out of work, out of a job, unwaged, laid off, made redundant, on unemployment?” Most of these phrases describe a state of inaction, of being without something. I am lacking.

Recently I’ve found myself at social gatherings, confronted with the dreaded question, “And what do you do?” There’s no satisfactory answer to this question when you’re unemployed. You could try the “I’m temporarily out of work at the moment” response, to suggest your idleness is short-term. Or there’s the “I’m looking for work right now”, which sounds as if you’re actually doing something. After a few people have inquired as to your employment status, however, you’re likely to fall back on the blunt “I don’t work”. It’s almost worth using the latter just to see the looks on your inquisitors’ faces. Such answers aren’t in the unwritten dinner party script.

Family members and friends can also be counted on to ask about your (un)employment situation. They may bring up the topic in a question along the lines of, “So how’s the job search?” There are a two ways you could handle this situation. You could tell the truth about your situation: describing in detail your failure to snag an interview despite applying to hundreds of positions; your inability to pay for good food, new clothes, a haircut, or a dental check-up; and how you’ve decided to choose between going back to school to earn another degree and another four years of student debt, or run away to Tibet.

The other option is more fun. Lie. It’s really quite easy. You’re creative aren’t you? All you need is a fake job, a boss and some coworkers, and you have a ready supply of answers for your nosy mom. When she asks, “How was work today honey?” you can confidently reply that your boss was a jerk and made you slap together a Power Point presentation in half an hour for the board, and blah blah blah?. If she’s anything like my mom when she’s bored, she’ll tune you out and change the topic. Your job search won’t come up in conversation again.

Of course, it would be entirely more pleasant to have a real job to talk about. That’s why I’ll be continuing my job search this June while everyone else is planning his or her vacation time. While they’re surfing the waves, I’ll be surfing While they’re absorbing the rays, I’ll be absorbing facts from company web sites. While they’re well, you get the idea. Let the summer begin.

  • The Joy of Employment
  • by Beauty
  • Published on July 1st, 2004

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