I recently received an email from a friend with a short ‘n sweet, “So what exactly are you doing?” inquiry – a question I’m being asked often since my recent layoff. I just stared at the screen like a deer in the headlights. She may be sorry she ever asked. It’s similar to passing someone in the hallway (ex-hallway in my case) and saying, “How’s it going [cough but please don’t stop ‘n tell me cough]?”
First of all, I have no idea what day it is. I no longer moan because it’s Monday, nor do I have frivolous feelings of glee on Fridays. I am lost without my planner glued to my side. My days are taken up by what I call “miscellaneous mischief.”
The amount of paperwork alone involved – whence one is terminated – is enough to produce nightmares of giant bloody paper cuts and whiteout stains. I’m dreaming of the unemployment benefit gurus, dressed like Nazis, holding a flashlight to my face in a post-war inquisition. “Vere have you attempted to get a job? Vat’s their address? Vat’s the CEO’s daughter’s cousin’s boyfriend’s name, occupation and serial numba? Vat color is the carpet in their front lobby? Tell us NOW if you want to see your $17.50 check every veek! Vee have vays to make you talk!!”
Now, I’m a fairly experienced, professional, middle class woman. When I think of some of the recipients who have been on unemployment for years, something just doesn’t ring right. In order to get those checks in the mail, which they immediately turn around and spend on their cigarettes, fake flower wreaths for their trailer door and their six-inch bedazzled porcelain nails, the idea of them submitting resumes on a weekly basis – as required – makes me wonder. Just exactly to whom are they sending their resumes? I’m assuming their choice of careers can only be a) the WalMart greeter; b) the front receptionist in a construction trailer; or c) a worker on a Toyota assembly li…oh, yeah, never mind on that one. They aren’t hiring. I checked.
And now that there are no football games to watch, or Olympics to enjoy, I’m starting to worry about my television viewing choices. Last night, I was on the edge of my chair actually watching a show called Prison Wives, a show about women who…well, the title is self explanatory. I watched as I lounged in my big arm chair, shoving a half a box of Girl Scout cookies in my mouth. But the theme running through the show – that of hope, determination and self-exploration – almost made me cry. But then I became giddy watching the awesome shopping trips prisoners get to go on to buy clothes when they’re released, and I caught myself yelling at the television, “NO, don’t buy that one…it’s orange!” It’s soooo not you…anymore!”
I’ve dug deep into my soul and decided that after all these years, maybe I was too busy being the loyal one…the good girl. Lately, I’ve had to refrain myself from parking ever so closely to that Brinks truck that shows up at Walgreen’s every day. I was going to give those winter ski masks to Good Will, but I think I may find a better use for them.
Besides, prison might not be so bad. I’d have so much time to write…and eat…and sew. Those orange jumpsuits could sure use some lace around the cuffs and a little stiffy in the collars to make them pop up. Yeah, that’s it…I’ll start a new business: Pretty Prisoners R Us.
So lately, I’m all shit, showered and shaved every morning…with nowhere to go. So, really, meh, I’m not doing much. Well, at least unemployment smells good, if nothing else.