The Unemployment Diary Part 1: The Aftermath
Recently (so recently, most of my co-workers are blissfully unaware) I have been let go, terminated, been hit by the Big Ugly Axe, sacked.
Dear Reader, for your amusement, while I am still giddy over the prospect of getting to stay home and confident about my ability to land another situation making more money and with more prestige and better benefits, I’ve elected to journal my experiences. I think it will be a fun experience and educational for other middle-aged men who will then be energized and encouraged to lose their jobs as well. Hell, maybe we can form regional and national clubs (like Skid Row in Los Angeles and the Bowery in NYC). At the very least, this will make a fun suicide note.
Excited. Nervous, but excited. Making great plans to set up my home office, which is a room off of our downstairs kitchen where our family computer is located. Spent two hours rearranging photos on the wall to reflect the new, sober business image of the room.
After 32 years of steady employment, it’s a little weird. But I’ve got plans. Big plans. Got a list on a clipboard. Ready to cross things off. Very excited. I need to get a job. And now that I’m not trapped as a municipal event planner, worried and panicking about every single detail of a town chowder cook-off, the sky is the limit! I can pursue my dreams! But first, a couple of minor adjustments–a new face, one that isn’t a wrinkled 53 years old. Some hair; yes, the Bruce Willis head looks good, but only on Bruce Willis. And lastly, a fucking time machine that will make me younger and less likely to submit an insurance claim to my prospective employer’s HMO for a broken hip or Alzheimer’s episode.
As per Rochelle’s instructions, I scooped the clumps in the cat liter box. My God. The clumpy, gray bricks that I removed from the box could have been used to build a house for a third-world family of five. How do these little cats hold all of this shit?
8:00 am. It’s bright, sunny and 2 degrees in my backyard. The frozen snow is as hard as a rock, and has the look and consistency of fine china. As I pick my way over to load the squirrel feeder (yes a squirrel feeder, fuck you if you consider these lovely creatures to be varmints, if you don’t like them, do a better job of sealing your attics; try driving a little slower, too. Can’t you see that they are indecisive, standing in the middle of the road? You wouldn’t mow down a senior citizen doing the same thing, would you?) Due to the cold, my footsteps echo like gunshots as I step on loose pieces of ice. Early each weekday morning, there are several chores, always undone, always regretted as I hurry to the office. Now, in the words of the immortal Burgess Meredith in the Twilight Zone “Library” episode, “There’s finally enough time. I have all the time in the world.” I don’t have to put these tasks off until later. I can attend to each detail whether I’m watering a houseplant, feeding the squirrels or taking a bag of kitchen garbage out to the can on the deck.
Big doings today. Still really excited. I’ve got a whole list of things to accomplish, most of them are left over from yesterday’s list when I was equally excited. Today though, I need a haircut. I’ve got a fine, sparse growth on my head, the kind of male pattern baldness that allows me to look in the bathroom mirror and say, “well that doesn’t look too bad,” but where everyone else glances at me and says, “hey there goes a bald motherfucker.” Exotic women caress my cranium and coo, “My, what a lovely head of skull you have.” What growth I do have looks like the former Professor Irwin Corey on a windy day (professor, you must be dead at this point and if you’re still alive please accept my apologies). Yes. Right. But which head scalper shall I visit? Now that I’m unemployed, maybe I can find a class of aspiring hairdressers and act as a crash test dummy; perhaps Rochelle will consider buying a flow-bee and buzzing me in the kitchen.
The phone calls, texts and emails are coming in. Friends and former co-workers want to know what happened. I reassure each of them in turn, as if I’m a patient in a semi-private hospital room after a stage three diagnosis and they are the Respectful, Concerned Visitors. “No, no…really….this is for the best. I really hated the job. I’m doing fine. I’ll be alright…please don’t worry about me. I feel great. No, no, I wanted this – now I can do what I really want with my life….”
…And of course, they agree with everything I say, nodding their heads like I’m the Mahatma and each word I utter is a pearl of wisdom, probably eager to get off the phone, thinking, ‘’wow that poor son-of-a bitch.”
It’s a Saturday. Blissful. You see, when you are out of work on a weekday, you are a fucking bum. On a weekend, you’re pursuing leisure activities just like everybody else in our country. Weekend or no, I have elected to have a large, crimson letter “U” sown on my jacket, just in case there is anyone in this town of 14, 561 that doesn’t know that I’m out of work, if that is possible in this folksy, gossipy berg.
I took Willie Raylan Hound Dog for a walk downtown yesterday, thinking, “what the hell, might as well enjoy my current situation.” I hadn’t counted on the 10 newspaper vending machines on the sidewalks of Marshal, Eagle and Main Streets featuring my 53-year-old grizzled face on the front page under a headline in the North Adams Transcript trumpeting the headline “Bunt Suddenly Steps Down From Post.”
But as you already know, Dear Reader, I’ve been canned, sacked, terminated, booted, let go, boned in the ass, as they say. My former employer, the mayor, was decent enough to let me save face by submitting a letter of resignation in which I stated that I was going on to bigger, better things- like dumpster diving and geriatric male prostitution.
Will Rod survive his first weeks of unemployment? Will he finally finish all of the chores riddling his memo pad on a daily basis? Will he find a reasonably-priced haircut in that godforsaken town? Will he turn to a life of geriatric mail prostitution? STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF A YET-TO-BE-DETERMINED-PART SERIES!