I’ve been laid off twice in my working life and both times I was able to find a distinct benefit to being out of work. The first time was in 1980 when I was laid off from my job as a proofreader for a small newspaper. I was young and without dependents and found the long unemployment lines a great place to meet guys who were also young and without dependents. There was a bar nearby and beer was cheap in those days.
After a few months, I sent myself to a little trade school and learned to smoke pot properly and efficiently. That skill has gotten me through some tough times. Had I not been unemployed, I may not have had the time, drive, or need to attend that trade school.
The second time I was laid off was in 2004. I was working for a law school library and the best way they could think to save money was to eliminate a staff position. Being older and again without dependents, I found many things to do. Tasks that had been put on hold because I’d been busy with work and raising kids were tackled. I had time to engage in creative activities that made me glad to be alive. I learned how to live comfortably with less income. Those benefits have helped me shape my life.
I’ve been employed for the past 6 years in a part-time position with a college. Though I have no health care benefits, it suits me to work less than a 40 hour week. I have had the time to learn to play the guitar, learn belly dancing, study tai chi chih, and devote time to my love of creating pottery and other art projects. I’ve been able to become politically engaged. I’m able to enjoy spending time at home with my pets.
Those were the benefits I discovered through unemployment. My heart goes out to individuals who lose their jobs and are responsible for taking care of a family. The stress they’re under is killing them.
I’m angry with John Bunning (R-Kentucky) who says “Tough sh*t!” to those whose benefits have run out. I would love to see the unemployed men and women he dumped on get a national stage and tell him what tough sh*t really is. I would like Mr. Bunning to struggle with a mortgage payment, fix a broken car without any money, and do without health care because there’s no way to buy one’s way into a doctor’s office. He should have to tell his kids to tighten their belts. I think a hard smack of reality upside his head would benefit Mr. Bunning’s attitude considerably.