The Unemployment Thing (See also; That Thing That Gives Me Agita)

In Congress, The District of Columbia on August 10, 2010 at 2:38 am

“[O]f all the aspects of social misery nothing is so heartbreaking as unemployment.” ~Jane Addams

Early last week or perhaps the week before I was in a mood. A no good, very bad mood over a variety of things all of which were money oriented. All of which stemming from irresponsibility and/or a month of cross country travel that left me feeling destitute. I walked into my coworker’s office, plopped down in a chair and made a HRMPH type noise. Like “Dear God, life is so hard. With the living and the having to choose between having money and a trip to Martha’s Vineyard”. COME ON everyone needs R&R and I was on that cusp of needing to get to get out. To go somewhere. To breathe something other than badly circulated air conditioning. I needed to smell salt water and eat fresh clams.

And I walked into my coworker’s office and told her just that.

“All I want to do is vacay and I can’t vacay because I have to work and let’s face it, I cannot afford to vacay. Fuck my life”

She cocked her head to the side.

“I want five minutes of peace and quiet. There’s also a dress I’ve been eying but more importantly THE BEACH and I haven’t been to the Vineyard all year. WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD?”

Her head moved a little more to the left and she smirked. And with that I knew what she was thinking.

My head stayed straight ahead as I closed my eyes and repeated everything that had just spewed from my mouth in my head. The complaints about vacation and Martha’s Vineyard and why I had to spend a week in Seattle eating raw oysters and drinking French 75. Feel free to slap the shit out of me and my agony.

I rolled my eyes at myself and was ready to shut up and returned to my own office. The office where I sat among piles of papers with layoff and attrition projections. Dollars lost were staring me in the face. In the background played a debate on the Senate floor on the extension of Unemployment Insurance. I vaguely heard Mitch McConnell mention something about the unemployed needing to pick themselves up by the boot straps and find a damn job already (I’m paraphrasing here). For clearly that was the reason for trillions in deficit; all of those people who were sitting on their ass watching the Real Housewives instead of working. Of course.

Then more eye rolling and general head between my knees-ness over email upon email as to why it had become such a Herculean effort to keep teachers employed. There was a discussion of offsets so as not to contribute to the deficit and where the offsets should come from so as not to piss off that group or this one. But even if it was paid for someone had to have a problem because again, WHY CAN’T THESE PEOPLE JUST FIND A JOB?! Never mind that pesky recession. People just aren’t trying hard enough. People didn’t want it enough. Parents didn’t want to take care of their children. Dad’s didn’t get those bags under their eyes from sleepless nights after realizing that no bacon would be brought home. Moms didn’t fret about giving their children enough to eat. They just didn’t care and that’s why they didn’t get jobs and another “bailout” wouldn’t get them off their Bon Bon eating asses.

No one should have to go through that. No one should have to worry about how to care for their children or themselves. It’s so very liberal of me, I am aware but it is also the human side of me that doesn’t like to see people in excrutiating pain and awaiting foreclosure because of jobs lost. I cannot imagine being that terrified day to day and having the fate of my job in the hands of people who have never and could never be there. How can you help when you don’t know what it’s like to spend each day surrounded by worry. Will there be a job or won’t there? I don’t like What If and that’s on things that don’t matter like what if I can’t buy wine tomorrow or what if I can’t buy that new MacBook Pro?

I know that things are relative and we look at our circumstances and pain as individuals and not in relation to the world around us. It’s hard to see past our own problems – however small – to realize that there are those who are spend each day in a state of perpetual fear. That’s what made me feel like That Asshole; the one who couldn’t afford that trip to a beach house and didn’t want to work or just wanted a nap dammit! I turned into that person but what makes me less of an asshole – and probably you as well – is realizing that things are good. Relatively speaking. As long as I keep trying and I did keep trying and tomorrow there is a vote in the House to prove that I worked my ass off and that the gray hairs of stress were worth it.

I’m not a complete jerk. And what makes me less of an asshole is that I made myself aware. And I hope that for five seconds you can realize as well. Realize that as I type, others are in the absolute worst of situations and that vacation or no, we are some of the lucky ones.


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