Last week, a couple of interesting things happened. First, I was at the cash register for my unemployment coffee shop and I placed my order. The barista asked me, “How is your day?”
Quick side note: I’m a talker in coffee shops. The coffee shops I’m a regular at probably know more about me than a person should in that type of setting.
I reply, “Good. I’m still unemployed.”
Another quick side note: They already know that I don’t have a job. This is not new to them.
Instead of getting a look of sympathy and a remark of encouragement, the guy looks at me like I just told him that I’m in love with him and want to have his baby. He scoffs at my insanity and gives me the total for my drink.
I pay and let the awkwardness pass and continue on about my day. No big deal right?
And then my mom and I go get our hair done during that same week. It’s a beautiful Friday afternoon and I’m feeling pretty good for the most part. We go into the salon and are seen promptly, even though we don’t have appointments. I go to my beautician while my mom goes to hers. These beauticians happen to be on two sides of the salon.
So, unlike my attitude at coffee shops, I’m not usually a talker at a salon. This time though I decided to do something different and chat up the lady cutting my hair. We talk about lots of things. I mention I’m looking for a job (no look of insanity there) and got laid of in February. She mentions she is in school to get her degree. I talk about my dream of being a writer. She talks about hers (what are the odds of meeting a fellow writer?).
We near the end of my haircut and my hair is still wet. She pauses and asks me, “Do you want your hair blow dried? It’s about 25 extra bucks. I figured I’d ask since…” She drops her voice. “…you’re unemployed.”
I act as if she didn’t talk about my joblessness like it’s a politically incorrect statement. “That’s fne. My mom is treating me.” (Thanks mom, by the way.)
She laughs it off and we continue talking. The haircut is complete and I join back together with my mom and we finish the day off by purchasing some very cute, and very inexpensive, flip-flops.
With these two stories described in completion, did you recognize their commonality?
I’m beginning to realize that unemployment is beginning to be seen as a politically incorrect statement. Being out of a job is now “the-thing-which-must-not-be-named.” It’s even in the news too. It’s better to have a job and be looking for one, than not have a job and be looking for one. Employers are more likely to hire you if you do have a job. Meanwhile, our unemployment rate continues to skyrocket.
I am not unemployed because I want to be. Trust me. This isn’t fun. I want a job. But if we continue acting like that it’s somehow the unemployed person’s fault or that they should be embarrassed by it like a wart on the nose, than the problem will never be fixed.
Meanwhile, maybe my current job title shouldn’t be blank. Maybe I’ll just describe myself as being an underpaid blogger with a growing chip on her shoulder.