Thursday, March 26, 2009

Big news: I'm not alone!

My friend Traci just got laid off. No, this isn't something that necessarily concerns you; you probably don't even know Traci. But it's big news for me, friends, and I'll tell you why:

I am no longer alone!

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I live under a rock, please understand that of course I was aware that I wasn't the only person unemployed these days. No one can escape the news about the rising unemployment rate. This is true even if you're unemployed and the news is no longer a) thrust upon you, like the soggy copy of the Metro that you didn't notice was on your seat before you sat down on the T, or b) convenient, like tuning in to NPR on your drive to work or asking the uber-informed coworker in your office. Instead of these sources, most unemployeds turn to one more more of the following five things:
  1. People who have daily access to the aforementioned sources
  2. The online versions of the aforementioned sources
  3. The actual, honest to goodness, printed newspaper...oh wait...nevermind
  4. The television
  5. Perhaps the most common source, at least among the laid off of my age group, the internet generally
In addition to my sources, there have been a few members of my family who recently found their inboxes echoingly empty but for the telltale pink slip. This presented me with close-to-home proof that people other than myself had come down with Unemployment. These days, everyone knows someone who has been affected by Unemployment, and now I knew some too. The problem was, however, that the folks in my family who were laid off are all middle-aged. This didn't make their experiences any better or worse than mine, but it did make them qualitatively different to the point of potential non-relatability.

And so upon contracting Unemployment and presenting its full chorus of accompanying symptoms, I was stuck trying to relate my unemployed feelings to my friends, none of which were unemployed at the time. They did as well as they could, considering none of them had ever spent more than a month unemployed. I truly appreciated every bit of their genuine condolences and attempts at empathy, but something was just missing. They hadn't lived it.

Traci, however, is living it and can relate to my experience, just as I can relate to hers.
  • We are both temporary victims of Unemployment and worked in the same general industry pre-layoff
  • We are of the same age group
  • We both grew up as members of the upper-middle class, have always been savers, and are not Recessionistas*
Among our concerns:
  • How to get another full time job in an industry that is the first thing to be cut in a recession
  • How to pay rent and still do a few social things with friends who have steady incomes
Not among our concerns:
  • How to find a part time job that might last until we can really retire (middle-agers)
  • How to seem culturally relevant and trendy by not flaunting our gobs of money (Recessionistas)
I feel like we will form the foundation for a nice little secret club; complete with orange juice-inspired declarations that we are doing just fine at breakfast, boss and coworker rants over mid-morning bloody marys, "I would do anything to get a job" talks over sobering sips of water at lunch, discussions of jobless depression during late afternoon cookies and milk, and affirmations of acceptance in armchairs over after dinner tea.

Why all of our conversations will be mildly alliterative, mimic the stages of grief, and be centered around beverages, I'm not entirely sure. But I'm ok with it!

*The Recession Chic article was written by my cousin, Kelly Marages. Read it or listen to the NPR segment.


  1. I love the article "The Recession Chic". It summed up feelings I've been having for a while about the converts to packing a lunch and clipping coupons. On the one hand I'm glad they are FINALLY being fiscally responsible at the same time why did it take a major financial meltdown for them to realize that a spending money is not an Olympic Sport.

  2. Definitely. I also agree that it's probably the worst time for them to realize that saving money is good, though, because we do need someone to put money back into the economy... Oh what a tangled web we weave!