Smile Politely

It’s just another Manic Monday

It’s 7:00 a.m. on Monday morning, the dreaded time when WILL wakes me up and I begrudgingly roll out of bed and prepare to earn my paycheck. The weekend beard is lathered up and plowed over. The “work shirt” I laundered on Sunday is buttoned up, seeming a bit snug around the chest. The fair-trade coffee I purchased on Saturday at Sam’s Club is ground and filtered, and a bagel takes the plunge in the toaster. Then it’s out the door, still bleary-eyed and now driving furiously for the 1.6 miles to work so I can be sure to be at my desk and in front of my computer by 8:01, when my boss usually wanders in to my office to check up on my weekend.

Ah, the good old days. No more.

Nowadays, I roll out of bed at 10:00 a.m. on Monday mornings. (Sunday evenings, like most other evenings, I stay up until two or three in the morning. I have nothing better to do but catch up on games of Scramble.) No alarm clock awakens me; there’s no need now that I’ve reset my internal clock to rise and shine whenever I want. I acknowledge the weekend beard in the mirror; it’s been growing unbothered for several weekends. I consider changing out of my pajamas, but the V-neck undershirt looks fitting. It’s chilly in my house in the a.m. since I began keeping the heat turned down a couple extra clicks in an effort to pinch pennies, so I thrown on a pullover for warmth. I pour a glass of water (no need to officially wake up in a hurry, so no caffeine needed) and head back to bed.

It’s time to get to work. Unemployment is a bitch.

Monday’s truly are a busy day for the unemployed. For starters, I have to call Uncle Sam (or his state of Illinois equivalent; we’ll call him Uncle Sam Jr.) to let him know to send another check. The process begins at around 11 a.m., when I dial the 1-800 number for the first time and receive my introductory busy signal of the day. Junior really wants me to get a job, so much so that he makes it nearly impossible to get through to him on the phone. The busy signal persists for hours, usually not letting up until late in the afternoon. Finally, I can reach out to the automated voice on the other end and punch in the right combination of ones and threes to let junior know that, yes, I’m still jobless. Please send sustenance.

Luckily, while I wait to place the Most Important Phone Call of The Week, I can peruse The News-Gazette‘s Sunday classifieds. When I was first laid off back in September, I read the Sunday classifieds on Sundays, but stopped after just a few weeks because there were rarely any jobs for me in the paper. That was depressing and just ruined my weekend. And what’s the point in ruining a perfectly good weekend? Sundays are for escaping from reality — some prefer church, but I choose sporting events,, and maybe a good LP or two — while secretly dreading the oncoming Monday morning.

Now I read the want ads on Mondays, the start of my no-work week. This Sunday’s edition is typical. The “professional” section — where us white collars gather to grovel — finds work for computer programmers, VPs of sales, clinical counselors and in-take managers and treatment technicians, spectroscopists (whatever the hell that is, it almost sounds worse than unemployment), crop analysts, policy analysts, bank supervisors, church secretaries, dental assistants, various directors with a capital D, and … the one job this week that I am qualified to apply for. (I’m not telling you what it is; I don’t need any more competition.)

There are 35 jobs listed in this week’s pro category. That’s up just a tick from the week prior. You may find my odds good: I can apply for one job out of 35, and I’ll probably be competing against 35 people for that one job. Truthfully, those odds probably aren’t too shabby given the current climate. But in the nearly six months since I’ve been laid off, I have applied for every local, salaried job that is within the bounds of possibility given my education and experience — about 18 jobs in total — and I’ve had the grand total of zero interviews. I’m not short on experience or education, so that tells you something about the sort of jobs that have been advertised — mostly entry level, with a few Director of the Universe types thrown in for seasoning — and the depth of the jobless pool. The latter thought was verified upon a recent visit to the local unemployment hub, where a manager reassured me of two things: first, in his decade behind the desk, he’s never seen so much unemployment (no surprise, he says it’s affecting white collars as much as blue collars); and second, the state will run out of benefit funds sometime early this summer, unless the feds step in.

I’d love to ponder the bummer of the situation with you for a while longer, but the alarm on my iCalendar just reminded me to reach out to Uncle Sam Jr. again. Plus, I’ve got one résumé to send off to an employer that has already declined to bring me in for an interview on four occasions.

“Manic Monday,” indeed.

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