Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Unemployment Follies

So, as I mentioned, I got laid off about two weeks ago.  It wasn't that I didn't see it coming, it was more like I didn't see it coming that day.

Now that things have semi-stabilized, I figured I need to get back to the premise of this blog; that is, your gain from my pain.  Along those lines, I'm going to start noting Random Shit<tm> from life while I'm unemployed. When I get re-employed, I'll switch back to a different set of Random Shit<tm>.


Not being completely without sense, I filed for Unemployment Compensation immediately.  The last time I filed, about thirteen years ago, it was primarily phone-based.  These days, it can all be done online.  This is a great thing for me, as you know of my great love for my fellow man (especially those fellows that work in city or state jobs).

I have to hand it to Pennsylvania - they did a great job of making the entire process quick and painless. Some would say that they haven't yet funged up the entire quick and painless process of signing up for unemployment. They told me I'd receive paperwork within ten to twelve business days.  Several days later, my paperwork arrived (not that paperwork).  Most impressive, PA.

My nephew assured my wife that total compensation came to 60-80% of normal income.  Fortunately I was approved immediately.  My nephew turned out to only be off by ten percent, in that it is much closer to fifty percent of my regular income.  My wife figured this out quickly (she's the brains and the beauty of this outfit, begging the question of what I'm doing here in the first place) and got a worried look on her face, as we weren't exactly doing too well when I was employed.

As I've mentioned,  I have interesting timing.  This time, however, life had interesting timing.  The wife's uncle was in hospice, dying from cancer.  The combination of a terminal uncle and an unemployed spousal unit kind of set the pot boiling over its own lid.  By this I mean that she went on a little internal vacation, as in checking out for a bit.

My wife's first exclamation after discovering my new and improved employment status was that it was about time I left and that it would be good to have me home for a while.  Oddly enough, yesterday was the first full day we spent together

So yeah, I'm officially on the unemployment rolls of PA.  They apparently try to discourage potential recipients of unemployment by sending them several envelopes with various colored papers, in various languages.  I think they're weeding some portion of us out.  There were so many papers that it became overwhelming.  Perhaps they were thinking survival of the fittest, as in the ones able to navigate the morass of paperwork and procedure were going to receive any compensation.


This was resume day.  It was time to fine-tune the resume and start shooting it out to the right places. Or at very least, the online job boards.

A resume is where you write fine prose about your past employment, duties and accomplishments, making sure to embellish in every category possible.  Downright lying is apparently encouraged in some circles.  If you performed some task in some department, tell them you were the manager of that department... it was close.  If you did something once, make it an important full time job skill.  Invent all sorts of higher education that can't be verified.  Throw in an actual certification or two.  Vastly inflate your salary. Have your friends cover for you.  Make a lot of connections and annoy a lot of connections on LinkedIn and various other forms of evil that is social media.

Now let's talk facts: I have been out of the job-searching market for thirteen years or so. It wasn't so much updating the resume as writing one.  So no resume, no job-hunting skills and no real idea how to proceed was the order of the day.  I got right to work, made the resume look semi-impressive and sent it off to large job boards like Monster and Dice.

Recently, at my recent job, I had a recent neighbor. It was interesting to watch him take phone calls, get frustrated and slam down the phone.  Recruiters were calling him all the time about jobs. He told me it was predictable and inevitable... there were a bunch of Indian recruiters who would call, mispronounce his name and offer him jobs in different states, areas of the country or the other side of the same state (a nine hour drive one-way).  It happened several times per week.  I took to mispronouncing his name too, just to annoy him (that's the kind of guy I am).

Within two days of posting the resume, I had many emails from Indian recruiters for jobs in Chicago, Pittsburgh (a nine hour drive), San Francisco and many other job functions that weren't on my resume and that I wasn't willing to perform.  Boy, my ex-coworker wasn't kidding....


I'm not going to make stuff up; I am much more well-rested.  I get up early enough to scour job listings and respond to emails, phone calls and invent creative ways to look for jobs.  The custom-made job for me is around the corner but it hasn't exactly made itself known as yet (not for lack of trying).  All things in time.

My wife sure was happy to have me around.  So happy, in fact, that I got to go food shopping with her. This trip ranks just slightly above dentistry for me on the Things I Love to Do list.  One does not food shop with my wife; one follows silently, answering questions only when spoken to and never, NEVER wandering off or getting out of sight.  If one commits any of these transgressions, one will pay the price for throwing off her groove.  As silly (or painful) as it sounds, I have seen it a few times before. My wife normally does the shopping and does a great job of it.  The moment I come with her, she forgets where she's going and doesn't pick up items that were on her list in the first place.  Imagine having that kind of power.... I got to thinking that this is yet another reason people hate unemployment.  We like to go to work so we don't have to be home.

The wife shops at Costco (where all good things come from), which I don't get to see too often (fortunately).  They have weird hours and the parking lot is full at any time of the day or night.  Like many places in which I've shopped, they hire people to follow us around and see what we buy more than once.  When they figure it out, they immediately stop carrying them. I love these chocolate chip bars.  Because of this, they stopped carrying them. Now they have lemon bars.  Wife explained to me that lemon is the replacement for chocolate.  IN WHAT KIND OF UNIVERSE IS LEMON AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE FOR CHOCOLATE?  I've seen people eat their own pocket lint before eating lemon bars.

Costco has extra wide aisles, so old people have to work much harder to put their cart in the exact center and block most of the pathway while they stand there, confused.  Mind you, old people succeed nonetheless.  The store also features people sampling random stuff at every other aisle.  When buying vitamins, neither of us were interested in cherry-flavored laxative samples, thank you very much.  One old sampling person asked if we'd like to try lemonade, just like Grandma used to make.  I was smarter than that - my grandmother never made lemonade.

Seven hundred dollars later, we were out of there.  Of course I kid... but I'd have no trouble getting the bill over seven hundred dollars, especially if I liked televisions large enough to take up an entire wall of my house.  I swear... that place has everything. Everything but suits.

Fcuk... SUITS!


Another thing I haven't done in thirteen years is wear a suit (I'm still post-traumatic about it).  The last suit got me the last job, damn near paying for itself.  Since it still fit, I figured I could wear it for interviews.  Well, even I am occasionally intelligent enough to question whether an ancient suit would look silly and ancient on me (as opposed to just plain stupid).  The general consensus was that it was New Suit Time. Have I mentioned how much I hate suits?  I'd rather mow the lawn and you know how much I hate mowing the lawn.

Costco had shirts, though.  The only problem there was that I had to know what my size was.  And again, in thirteen years, I had never thought about my shirt size or retained any of the numbers.  There were certainly a lot of numbers on the hideously colored dress shirts there but they weren't making any sense.  We figured we'd just get a shirt with a suit and be done with it.  And, heaven forbid, a tie.

Have I told you how much I hate ties?  In all this time, I haven't worn ties or dress shirts.  If there is a sad event like a funeral or wedding, I either don't show up or show up in my normal uniform (a clean t-shirt and jeans).  Because I spend so much time not showing up, when I do show up, everyone's so happy to see me that no one notices I'm wearing sneakers.  It's an interesting life.

Out of nine million things my wife has purchased over the years, she remembered one: the tiny little sewing kit that contained a tape measure.  She located the sewing kit, which was a minor miracle in itself, and proceeded to try to measure me.  This was made impossible by the fact that she had no idea how to measure.  While she called her mother for advice, I had looked it up on the internet, where all good things come from.

Since that was so much fun, I looked up how to measure someone for a suit.  Since neither of us had much higher education, it took quite a while, a straight edge, two rulers and some KY Jelly to finally ascertain my suit size.  Then it was time for the pants.  Do you know there is a seat measurement? They should have put it in plain language: ass size.  I kept asking my wife if she was Mr. Humphries taking an inside leg [Are You Being Served?].

Apparently I have the neck of a football player, the shoulders of a weight lifter and the lower torso of someone who was just over the required height for a dwarf.

The only thing worse than buying a suit is wearing a suit.  I wanted this circus done.  But the other thing worse than buying a suit is having it altered.  Some people, meaning me, don't really care if the suit fits and the pants are eight inches too long.  Apparently I'm not the only one: stores only sell suits in my size that come with pants better suited to a guy who consumes a case of beer in one sitting, several times a week.

Another ex-coworker was talking about going to some outlets and seeing really cheap suits... you know... like three hundred dollars.  At this point, my eyeballs bounced off the back of my skull and I thanked my lucky stars that I didn't have to buy a suit.  As it turned out, my lucky stars were more like meteors, plummeting to earth.  Or recent cruise ships, plummeting to the bottom of the ocean.

Three hundred dollars is rather a lot for an unemployed guy.  It's too much for an employed guy too. That's a lot of t-shirts, folks.  At this point we remembered that all good things come from the internet, so we set about searching for them.  The suits were a mix of cheap and Oh My God.  The only uniformity was that they were ugly.  Some were uglier than others.  Some looked like they'd be better suited (get it?) for waiters.  Some for gangsters.  Some for golfers. The sharkskin purple ones, well, I have no idea who they were for.  When we finally found an acceptable price on an ugly black straightjacket.. uh... suit, we discovered that it would take up to ten business days to arrive.  I told her this was a sign that I was not supposed to purchase a suit.  She refused to take that for an answer, so we'll be shopping locally soon.

So you can't wear sneakers and jeans to an interview?  I figure it shows individuality and creativity.  You mean nobody wants individuality and creativity?  Oh.


On the way out the door, my wife greets the neighbor across the street.  I'm not exactly busting out with social grace but I generally manage a hi, hello or at least a grunt.  Immediately after hello, the wife starts telling the neighbor about my being laid off.

I stood there, partially humiliated, wondering what to do.  Never being short for words, I waited for my wife to finish, then blurted out, "And my genitals are too small also."

I realize the benefits of telling people... maybe someone knows someone who's looking for someone. But telling the mailman and the cashier at Wawa probably isn't going to do much for me, other than affording me another opportunity to tell people about my genitals.  As it turns out, many people now know about my genitals.

I'll continue this as things continue to happen.  Try not to become unemployed.


  1. Unemployed, huh? I've been in that particular state since August of 2008. Don't even ask how I've managed. It's a really ugly story. It sucks to be an older person (45+ years of age) and unemployed nowadays. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

    I wish you all the best with the job hunt/lucky lottery ticket buying situation, Lefty. Maybe Mrs. Lefty could get a second job and you could become a full-time blogger. Nah... it was just a thought.



  2. Thanks for the commiseration, Sir. We're in largely the same boat. You have a point about Mrs lefty... maybe I'll get her a job or her own corner :P

    Best to us both!

  3. Best of luck in your search man. It took me longer this spring than I imagined. Eight or nine weeks I believe. Try to stay positive.
    P.S. I did it WITHOUT a suit OR a tie!

  4. You're a better man than me, Buf. No suit is the only way to go.

    We're all positive here. Good stuff will happen shortly. Thanks.

  5. Eric Layton...........Did you used to have yhe avatar of the smoking hippie dude on the now defunct Lockergnome Nexus?

  6. "Smoking hippie dude?" Indeed. That does sound like me. To be more accurate, I'm a non-smoking (these days, anyway) biker dude. Close enough for government face recognition software, though. ;)