by richardhutton

You finally find employment: is it worthy of the pedestal you’ve put it on while you’ve been struggling for money?

A return to daily unpleasance, gossipy malice, back-biting/stabbing/breaking from ‘friends’ when they find out you’re making an extra two hundred pounds per year than they are because you have an unemployed partner, and children; and all the usual worries that don’t apply when you’re down and out: taxes, rebates, salaries, appraisals, titles, over-payments, under-payments, having to set up direct debits because you can’t keep track of all the bills, insurance contributions, who gets the new computer and who doesn’t, inter-departmental intrigues, office situations, the pursuit of vacuous materialism, upgrades of phones, personal computers, dishwashers and electric tin openers.

Having to pretend you’ve read fashionable books so as not to feel left out of ostentatious discussions on the serious message that we all must take from the latest instalment of the Harry Potter series or The World According To someone oafish and nondescript. All of your time being devoted to work, even though you don‘t particularly enjoy it; never seeing your partner, or never having time to find one. No longer being able to talk to strangers without bringing up the details of how much you enjoy a job that you’ve already grown to despise; having to talk about what a lovely day it is outside to people who – like yourself – are unable to enjoy it. Returning home late with a headache and a cold setting in, only to find the sink full of dishes, you have to cook something to eat but your food has been taken, and nobody has walked the dog, despite that fact that they were in all day doing nothing, and have left the detritus to prove it.
And remembering all of the things you miss so deeply about being redundant: rolling out of bed as you please; not having to take sick days when you’re ill – not having to drag yourself in to work when you‘re feeling unwell but have no sick days left. Stress and anxiety were there admittedly, but centring on worthwhile things like a lack of food or money, rather than meeting a dead-line for writing a tedious article about responsible clothes for adults or feigning an interest in a managing director’s plans to cut health insurance in return for a vending machine.
The way you spent your free-time. Buggering about with your dogs. Making ’forceful’ comments on blogs and – in a convoluted way – it actually being a more purposeful use of your time than the rest of your day: you’re contributing to democracy – to debates that really matter to society; like whether one type of cell-phone is better than another. Moreover, you lose track of contemporary vernacular, and so begin to feel your age: what does ‘twitter’ mean? Is it as irritating as it sounds? What is a you-tube? How does one apply it? Where is it supposed to fit? What does ‘T.O.G.F.O’ stand for? What, precisely, is a M.I.L.F.?

And then a vague feeling of sadness returns, and you begin to see all the inconsiderate, pompous and self-absorbed people who made your own life so needlessly difficult as human beings, not essentially different to yourself – attempting to keep their heads above water in the ruthless cut and thrust of society, in which if you don’t keep abreast you sink under, and descend swiftly. You realise that everybody around you is searching for happiness and bliss, and chasing it down blind alleys. Perhaps it occurs to you: ‘Man does not live by bread alone’. There are riches in poverty unlike any to be found in wealth. But this is no consolation when you’re unhappy either way.

And then finally, one nondescript day, a customer walks into your workplace and asks you if you can point them in the right direction. You could, if you wanted to – but you’re tired and worn, it’s late in the day, and you have no real desire to labour on someone else’s behalf when your efforts merely meet with ingratitude or churlishness anyway. So, instead of being helpful, you reply ‘No, sorry – I can’t help you’. And then you never have to worry about unemployment again.

So what then, in conclusion? How do you deal with unemployment?

You don’t really. You bear with it at best; and fall apart if you don’t possess the inner resources to cope. You have my sympathy; and hopefully not my luck (see ‘Maudlin/self-pity’ elsewhere).