Unemployment fan mail, because we’re all in this together

(courtesy of http://thekathleenshow.typepad.com)

Is that Norm, in a onesie? I'll never wash my eyes again! (courtesy of http://thekathleenshow.typepad.com)

Unemployment is an emotional roller coaster. One day (one hour even) I’m way up, and the next I’m way down. What triggers the peaks and valleys isn’t always obvious or logical. And even if it is, the level of emotion is rarely warranted. I used to be fairly even-tempered… strange and goofy, but even-tempered. So the huge swings present some cause for concern. My sense is that the highs and lows will level out when I’m employed and can get out of my own head a little. Here’s hoping I get to test my theory soon.

I received an email last week that gave me a huge boost, in a healthy way. The email thanked me for Jobless and Less, honestly and sincerely, calling it “…funny, interesting, appealing, witty and insightful.” The email’s author is enduring her own unemployment. She is intelligent, educated and experienced, and is currently weighing her temping options. This isn’t where she wants to be, but she understands that this is where she is. I understand the situation all too well. My job prospects aren’t looking up in the new year, despite news of economic growth and mixed reports of job growth. I’m seeking work wherever I can find it, including temp and freelance positions. My unemployment insurance will run out shortly. My bills won’t. And, frankly, the ongoing unemployment is really wearing on me.

Instead of getting manic from such praise, I felt my median temperament rise a little. And I’ve ridden that wave of good feeling ever since. Us unemployed take our wins however we can get them. And emails like this are definitely a big win. I know people read the blog, thanks to Google Analytics. I can even tell all kinds of things about them… geographic location, web browser, pages viewed, the naughty sites they visit after mine, what they’re wearing, what they had for dinner. But stats are impersonal and sometimes misleading. Actual feedback is much more meaningful to me. It tells me that real people out there are reading and understand. It tells me I’m not alone.

Here’s the email, with the author’s permission. I hope it provides a little comfort and solace to others in our situation. We may be sitting by ourselves at our own desks, looking at our own computers. But as my grandfather always says, “we’re all in this together.”

I stumbled across your blog when I was considering signing up for various temp agencies. I was looking for any advice on how best to do this or even whether or not it would be worthwhile, when I found your funny, interesting (though somewhat demoralizing) posts on temping. I know I can’t kid myself that temping will be a barrel of laughs or give me a truly fulfilling employment experience. But, like you, I have come to see that being unemployed feels like drowning and even though temping may feel like treading water, when I would rather be swimming – I can’t really afford the luxury of *not* being employed anymore, even if I end up doing horribly demeaning jobs that are somewhat beneath me – or the sort of work I could have done easily out of high school, without the benefit of a college degree or the years of work experience that I have.

I was very impressed by your blog though. I had started an unemployment blog myself, but I didn’t stick with it and I have to say that your blog is everything that I wished mine was: which is funny, interesting, appealing, witty and insightful. (I rather think I got discouraged with my blog – because I was mostly just complaining a lot! Also, I had no readership – and it was a bit of a drag and felt kind of pointless for me to post about my observations, when no one was reading them. So I stuck with journaling instead, which no one reads either, but at least I don’t kid myself in thinking that someone *will* read any of my journals!)

Anyway – I wanted to send you a note to let you know how much I appreciate your observations and what you’re doing with your blog. I also wanted to send some encouragement your way, especially after I read the notorious “Joe’s” comments and your response. It seems like there are always those out there who believe they have all the answers and are ready to pass down judgment to others. I get that all the time really. Those who haven’t experienced long-term unemployment can’t possibly understand what it’s like. And this economic downturn is very different than any we’ve ever experienced. I read a recent news article where a recruiter comments that it used to be that the difficult people to place were those who were ex-offenders or the homeless, but now it’s the chemists and engineers! In other words, many many people out there who are highly skilled, highly trained, highly educated and very qualified are nevertheless finding themselves unemployed for extended periods of time. It’s not a reflection on you – though I’m sure you know that by now. I’m still struggling with that myself really.

So thanks again and keep writing… And if you have any further advice for me on my way to the temp agencies, let me know!

[Note: I added the links to her email for context, and because links make me happy. Not as happy as super-nice emails, but happy still.]

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  1. Dalilama wrote:

    This further supports the idea that you ought to be subsidizing your blogging here by running Google Ads on the pages to at least bring in some of the advertising dollars that marketers like you us to spend… Though I’m sure most of the ads would end up being from the unemployment hawks out there. And if they’ll take your money when your down, why not take theirs when your down too?

    By the way, I noticed that the format of your page is a little screwed up with all of the blog links down below instead of on the side. Might want to check your coding for the table layout brother! I know you’ve got the time.

    And c’mon fellow readers, let’s throw our buddy Norm some more good comments out there since his last posts seem comment-free. And as we can see from this post, he needs a little stroking of the ego every so often too! (Unless you are just losing them in the formatting also.)

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Tina wrote:

    Very, very nice! Yeah, my neighbors and friends don’t get why I’m not employed yet either. For over a decade since I moved into this neighborhood they saw me going, going, going. Literally, I was in traffic on my way to the airport at 6:30 am when a neighbor pulled up beside me…seems like a lifetime ago. I guess it was.

    This too shall pass, this too shall pass. Smart, energetic people may stumble, but we get up. Maybe not the same way as before…because we LEARNED and will never be in this position again. Well, that’s my theory anyway.

    As always Norm…thanks for your blog. I hope you get a spotlight on Conan’s next gig!

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink
  3. Tina wrote:

    Ha! I just re-read my post and realized…CRAP! My one neighbor who worked for Mr. Blue Chip (for over 20 years) has been unemployed as long as I have…the house next to him? The husband AND wife have both been laid off (the husband worked for a medical company for 18 years), and my Dad was laid off AGAIN 9 months ago. I guess I’m not the odd one out.

    This too shall pass…

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 12:13 am | Permalink
  4. Sarah wrote:

    Kudos to you for this blog! I was cruising around looking for unemployment blogs, and was pleased to see someone was doing it.

    No one prepares you for this emotional roller coaster called “unenjoyment”. My boyfriend and I lost our jobs back in December 2008. He had worked there for 17 years, I had been there only 3. While I do some freelance every once in a while, he’s still out of work and struggling to find anything to apply for lately. My father was unemployed for a year before he started going a little stir crazy and decided to take a low paying landscaping job just to work again. Our neighbor, who was nearing retirement but can’t retire because her 401K took a major hit, just found out she’d be getting laid off soon as well. It’s a crazy world out there, and although they say things are getting better, I have my doubts. Keep on blogging and here’s to hoping that the job market gets better for all of us in 2010!

    Monday, January 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Permalink
  5. Stevie wrote:

    I am glad that I came upon this blog. I had been following another blog similar to this for quite some time and the young lady writing it just found a new job. Lucky her. I was laid off from my job back in September 2009 and have not been able to find anything since. I was with my former employer for five years when they sold out to another agency and that agency made budget cuts. They only saw me as salary and benefit money they could save. I have only had two interviews (at least I have had them when there are out there that haven’t had any at all), but they didn’t lead to anything. I have been sending my resume out every single day and keep getting rejections. I guess my over 20 plus years of experience scares them. My 26 weeks of unemployment benefits run out the middle of March. I am hoping and praying that I have a job by then. After that, I will not have only have lost my job, but my home as well. Thank you for this blog. Now I have a new one to follow until you get a new job.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink
  6. Norm wrote:

    Hey Stevie–Welcome, but I’m sorry you’re having a hard time of it. The best advice I can offer is to stay active and keep at it. If one thing doesn’t work, try something else. From my experience, applying to jobs on job boards probably won’t work. You may want to check if unemployment insurance has been extended where you live. In NY, for example, it’s a lot longer than 26 weeks these days. Good luck, I hope your unemployment ends very soon.

    Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Permalink