Perk-y jobs and the unemployed who love them

I need a job because I need money to pay my bills. I’ve grown attached to food, shelter, Netflix and other necessities of life. Life without access to every DVD known to man is just death by another name. My situation, like most people’s, is pretty straightforward. I’d love to make a lot of money – money enough for my own island and sports franchise, “f**k you money” even – but I’ll settle for enough money if the circumstances are right.

The years have taught me that jobs can pay in ways beyond money (until they go away and leave you on the dole, of course). Enjoyment is another important form of compensation. A fun job is worth the same to me as a boring job with twice the salary, provided the lower paycheck supports my modest standard of living and raging cookie habit. Work that doesn’t feel like work isn’t. It’s entertainment. It’s something we’d consider doing for free. The days go by quickly. And when they don’t, who cares? That moment of dread following the alarm each morning disappears when work is fun. That Sunday evening lethargy born from the anticipation of another workweek goes away. Moods improve, and life improves. The return in quality of life – on and off the job –  is well worth the smaller paycheck.

Perks are another valuable method of compensation. And they take many forms. A friend of mine once had a job three blocks from his apartment. By cutting his commute down to five minutes each way he added over an hour of free time to his life every day. Another friend with a similar commute managed to add a lunchtime nap to his daily routine.

Lucky for me I’ve had jobs that offer great perks. My first job out of college was a low-level administrative position at a now-reviled trade association. It paid what one might expect it to. The higher-ups had lots of meetings with lots of legitimately important people. Important people meetings differ from normal people meetings in a couple key ways. For one, the stakes are higher, as they’re dealing with the fates of companies and industries. For another, their meetings are catered. Here’s the best part, at least for normal people on little budgets… important people don’t eat the food at important people meetings. They get fed all the time, and earn enough to buy the food they want anyway. This all added up to free meals for staff multiple times a week – a great perk  for a poor college grad. And I totally lucked into it. The more industrious among us even worked out an office-wide paging scheme to discretely notify each other when meetings let out, and lunch was served.

Entertainment-related jobs have (or at least had) the best perks for music fiends like me. One of my positions included free tickets to concerts all over the city, provided I wrote something about the band. Sometimes I didn’t even have to do that. Certain extremely popular shows were off-limits. Those bands (and their PR people) didn’t need the press from me and, as a result, wouldn’t put me and my +1 on the guest list. Attending concerts was part of my job, so the perk made total sense. And technically I was working while rocking out. But to my point about fun jobs, it often didn’t feel that way.

Another job included free compact discs and a stereo in my office. These perks also made total sense given the position and company – CD packaging editor for a music label. I initially took full advantage, and have the CD piles and storage headaches to prove it. But there’s only so many hours of music that can be heard in a day; my extensive double-blind studies put the number around 24. Once I made my way through the company catalog, the perk became a burden. There was nothing more I wanted. But not taking advantage of free CDs was a sin against the music gods akin to Ace of Base, Maroon 5 or Disco. I had to continue accumulating CDs, even though I’d grown out of the perk.

Wifey might have the best perk an unemployed spouse could ask for, aside from a company-sanctioned “Jobs for Unemployed Spouses”  program. She gets free passes to Broadway shows. Now that we can’t afford flights to Paris for dinner, we can still spend the evening at the theater (excuse me, theatre). There’s a lot of excellent productions out there. And our circumstances – poor sans kids, but too old to be out past our bedtime – allow us to enjoy them. So please buy lots of theater tickets (rent can wait) so wifey can keep her job and I can forget about unemployment for a couple hours every so often.

The holy grail of the job search is a high-paying position that offers enjoyment and great perks. Let me know if you come across anyone this lucky, so I can kick their ass and take their job. Most of us settle for something less than perfect, and that’s fine. We try our best and do what we can. But it’s worth considering factors beyond the paycheck if possible. Your life may be better because of it.

Tell us what you do for fun when money is tight in the Jobless and Less Unemployment Forums

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One Comment

  1. I like that you call her your wifey. I’m adding you to my blogroll. k?

    Friday, April 10, 2009 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

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  1. Perk-y jobs and the unemployed who love them on Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

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  2. JoblessandLess (Norm Elrod) on Thursday, April 9, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    New blog post: Perk-y jobs and the unemployed who love them

  3. __LOMO (Layoff Moveon) on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    RT @JoblessandLess Perk-y jobs and the unemployed who love them