Being unemployed is sort of like the situation that children find themselves in after school. In those three or four hours where the final bell has rung but mom and dad aren’t getting home from work until at least 6:00 p.m.
Children, and by extension the unemployed, have no discretionary funds and their survival depends almost entirely on someone else.
Consider the 8-year-old boy who relies on his mother or father to make him dinner each night and the 25-year-old man-child who buys discounted groceries with a state-funded welfare card. They are, in some ways, the same person.
The Unemployed Male is in a purgatory much like the 8-year-old finds himself in when he gets off the bus. The Boy can watch television, have a snack, and maybe do his homework if he’s feeling so inclined. But like I said, it’s not like he can just go out and do whatever he wants.
Unemployed Male is resigned to the bed that he wakes up in, moving from the friendly confines underneath the duvet from Bed, Bath, & Beyond around 9 or 10:00 a.m. (because it isn’t like he has to work this morning), to the more appropriate living room sofa.
There, Unemployed Male can watch television. He can have a snack. He can apply for jobs if he feels like it, but the truth is that online job applications are fruitless endeavors. A fool’s errand. U.M. cannot go out and do whatever he wants. There is no money for that. No energy. No hope.
I awake from a Xanax-induced slumber at 5:45 a.m. and evaluate my surroundings. The ceiling fan is on high, I have my blackout shades drawn, and the only thing with any life in it at all is my cell phone, which buzzes and sings the same exhausting ringtone day after day, as most alarms clocks do.
5:45 a.m. quickly becomes 9:30 a.m. on the nose after I turn my phone’s alarm off, waving the white flag of defeat and resigning myself to the fact that I won’t be finished with this jog before 11:00 a.m.
The Xanax isn’t entirely out of my system yet when I wake up naturally sans obnoxious iPhone alarm, and this time I know that it’s crucial I wake up. The fog from the Xanax, and the glass of red wine I had the night before aren’t helping me as I stumble around in my closet to throw my running shoes on, select a pair of ratty gym shorts, and haphazardly throw an old Duke basketball shirt on my torso.
I’m fucking dogging it as I get down to the first floor of my apartment complex and see the familiar, tangerine glow of that picturesque neon sign that tells every red-blooded American male one thing: there are tits, and there are wings here. HOOTERS. The restaurant where dreams go to die, I say aloud to no one.
I laugh at myself for looking down on an establishment like Hooters after my recent layoff. At least those people have a fucking job. But nevermind that.
Running outdoors is one of the few things I can do in this town that doesn’t cost money. It is beneficial to my mental and physical health, and although I curse and bitch and moan the entire time I’m running, the end result is a slightly happier Unemployed Male.
I weave through two young mothers on a dirt trail pushing strollers next to the Colorado River. “Must be nice,” I think to myself as I wonder what their husbands do for a living that allows them to pursue leisure activities like this one at 10:15 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. No doubt they’ll be guzzling down six-dollar coffees somewhere downtown in the next hour.
I finish my run at 10:40 a.m. and I’m back in front of the majestic Hooters where my morning started. I have nothing but time on my hands as I get back into my apartment complexes elevator.
After a shower, a shave, and three eggs over-easy, I’m back in the purgatory that is my living room. My day is over at 11:00 a.m., and for the moment, there’s nothing I can do about it. I can watch television, I can have a snack, or I can do some homework. .