Category Archives: Tales from the Unemployed

Nice weather and no money do not go well together.

Its a beautiful day here in Massachusetts. Sunny, high 70’s, no humidity – windows are wide open & there is a gorgeous breeze coming through. This weather makes me happy. However I’m also going insane because of it.

This weather makes me want to go out & do things – especially eat on a patio somewhere and have cocktails. That is one of my favorite things in the world to do. Sit outside, order some really good grub, and have an adult beverage. Is there anything better in the world? Its the little pleasures in life that get you through day to day.

Now lets throw a new twist into the nice weather situation – I have no money. I’ve been on unemployment for 5 months. I work part time and that definitely helps but I still have no money. With all the monthly bills and the past fun that I’ve had I have recently had to face reality – its time to tighten up the financial belt.

I got used to being able to do whatever I wanted when I was financially stable. I could go out to eat & spend a lot because I had a good paying job PLUS a part time gig. You couldn’t beat that. Now its entirely different. There is no surplus of money pouring in. So my weekly allowance that let me eat, drink, and be merry has no shriveled down to next to nothing.

So as I sit here debating in my mind if I can spend the $40 on going out to eat, I also try to convince myself that I’m ok with staying in and making dinner. I CAN have a cocktail at home and have it still be satisfying. Yes, I live in a condo building but I can cook & then take it downstairs to the small concrete patio we have. Its not quite the same as being waited on at a restaurant but who cares, right?

Sigh. I just keep telling myself I don’t need to go out & spend my money because the bottom line is, well, I don’t! I have things in the future that need my money more than some restaurant. Truthfully, most of what I cook at home is better than some restaurants food anyways. So as much as I love going out, tonight I’m just going to stay in.

Although I may have to go grab a frozen yogurt at the new place down the street…hey I can’t quit everything cold turkey! 🙂 Happy Thursday everyone!

A job search conundrum: do you take a cut in pay?

Sorry I haven’t been around much. July was a crazy month. Busy at the cafe, busy social calendar, and still on that inevitable search for the perfect job. During the last month I came across an issue that seems to be happening to a lot of unemployed people – finding a job that seems great but is a decrease in pay.

I read an article quite awhile ago when the unemployment rate was at its highest. It talked about what people were doing to find work and also discussed how many people were finding that they were overqualified for many positions and that they couldn’t find employment at the same rate of pay they had before.  For people who are barely scraping by, how do you take a job that means you will actually be making less money each week?

That’s something I stumbled upon recently. There was a job opportunity I was going to apply for. I knew someone that worked there and they were going to recommend me for the position. It seemed like a great place to work from the description I received. Not my ideal career move, but a job. Then the discussion of pay came up. The rate was $7 less an hour than what I was making before. Not to mention the fact that it was an hour commute each way and would cost me at least $70 a week in gas to get back & forth (public transportation wasn’t an option).

My husband and I went over all the pros & cons. In the end, it just didn’t make sense financially for me to even apply. We figured out that I would be making almost $200 a week less than I am currently making on unemployment and with my part time work. That just seemed insane.

As I pondered this situation I found myself wondering how many others out there are experiencing the same issue. I mean, we need to survive. Thankfully there is an unemployment program that allows us to have money while searching for a new job. Yet what happens when the only jobs you are finding are less money than you were making? It’s a hard reality to face but one that is inevitable for most.

So as if the job search wasn’t hard enough, you now have to take into account the fact that you may not be making what you were before. Time to tighten up that budget! Its just the way of the economy at this point. Things are getting better but still aren’t where they should be. So you just may have to suck it up and if you get a job opportunity that’s less of a salary, just take it. Within reason of course. Clearly the situation I was presented with wasn’t one I could even take into consideration. So I continue on my quest for employment. Applying everywhere and anywhere and hoping that when that opportunity comes along that it will give me enough pay to still survive.

College graduate turned Barista

Times are tough these days. It seems I just keep stumbling more & more upon people who are unemployed. I thought this economy was getting better? From my eyes I can’t see it yet. So what does one do when they are on unemployment and that amount of money isn’t enough? Its simple…you turn to part time work.

So here I am – a 34 year old Barista at a cafe. You can call me a Barista, but really I’m just a slave to the food industry. My cafe makes coffees, smoothies & food. Its not rocket science but let me tell you something – some days its the hardest job I’ve ever had.

I have days where its easy and all the customers are great. Then you have days where everything just goes wrong and you think some of these people are going to throw their 180 degree lattes in your face. It can go either way. Its the bad days when I take a moment to think of that Bachelor of Science degree that hangs so perfectly on my wall (its staring at me as I type this blog and I know its judging me for ranting instead of job searching).

I schlep drinks & lunches to make ends meat. I deal with crabby people whose coffee just isn’t perfect. I get the demeaning looks from kids younger than me because I’m an adult serving them their expensive smoothies. Is this what I have become? A college graduate, once with hopes and dreams of getting a professional job, turned into a food & beverage server? (Thank God my Bachelor’s degree can’t see me at the cafe. I wouldn’t want the judgemental glares from it.)

The answer to the question above is quite simple – HELL NO! I am still that professional person. A proud college graduate who knows that one day I will find a new full time job that I enjoy and will allow me to leave my coffee grinding days behind. Right now I’m a barista, living my life and thanking my lucky stars that I have part time employment because many people don’t even have that. Its not a dream job but I can go to work a few days a week and interact with people. I’d probably be losing my mind if I didn’t have that. You also never know – working at this cafe might provide me with a networking opportunity I may not have had otherwise. Maybe this place could lead me to my next full time gig. Life is funny that way sometimes.

**I just want to take a moment and make sure I let everyone know – in no way am I trying to look down on anyone for being a barista & working in the food industry. I applaud you for all of the hard work you do. I don’t know how anyone does this work full time. It amazes me the people that slave away to places like this 40-60 hours a week. Those people are much stronger mentally & physically than I will ever be!  These words above stem from my own feelings working as a barista & from having paid a ginormous amount of money for an education that isn’t being put to use right now.**

End Rant 🙂

The job search…

I have never enjoyed looking for employment. Its just a pain in the ass honestly. I can remember at the ripe old age of 14 looking for my first job. I applied EVERYWHERE. Most places looked at me with the “Aren’t you cute, getting your first job” look. It took awhile but I managed to squeeze my way in to the fabulous world of grocery store bagging. This began my adventure into the real world where you worked and got money. If I’d only known what I was getting myself into.

So fast forward twenty years and a bunch of jobs later. Here I am applying to a ton of places again. Only this time, its a BILLION times harder than it was back in 1991. Every application I want to fill out online takes AT LEAST an hour to complete. And what is up with the personality tests that some companies make you take? I feel so pressured answering what I would do if co-worker A was complaining about co-worker B that I sometimes just say screw it and give up. I feel like that portion of the application process should be saved for serious candidates only. I’m not going to even fathom how many of those quizzes I took and never even heard from the place.

Present times have also made it impossible to follow up with any job you have applied for. Every time I speak to my mother & we talk about my job search she says, “Honey just make sure you follow up with people!”  What my mother has yet to fully realize is that times have changed since she was in the professional world. Companies want nothing to do with you until they’ve decided you are worthy of them wasting their breath in an interview. Most places I apply have ghost email addresses so you can’t follow up. And forget about even trying to get a phone number.

With all of the unemployed people in today’s society, its a wonder that more of us haven’t gone completely mad during this application process. If you are in the state of Massachusetts, you have to make the minimum of 3 job contacts a week to keep your benefits. If you are really trying to find a job you are making much more than that. Your job search has become your full time job. Now imagine working a full time job and not getting any results for all the hard work you put in. That, to me at least, is what my searching feels like. I apply and apply only to never hear a word from the places I contact. If I’m lucky, I may get an automatically generated email, but those are few & far between. Frustrating? You could say that’s an understatement.

So here I sit…educated,job searching, with my pretty framed bachelors degree staring down at me from the wall.  I sometimes feel like its looking at me with disgust. Or maybe I’ve just been staring at this computer for too long. Either way I know that I sometimes feel defeated by my job hunting. I want other people that are in the same boat as me to know that they are not alone. I’m right here fighting the application process with you. That’s all one can really do. Keep fighting and hope that maybe, just maybe, the next resume you send may be the last one you’ll have to.

Anxiety & Insomnia

Contrary to popular belief there are a few perks when you find yourself unemployed. You no longer have to set your alarm & dread it going off in the morning. Those Sunday night jitters that always come because you know your weekends coming to a close? Yup, those are gone. You can watch Rachael Ray everyday – because really what else are you going to do while you browse the web for jobs?

There is one little hiccup in all this free time you finally have that keeps you from fully enjoying yourself. It’s called an anxiety attack. At first you may not have them because you are still too in shock from the loss of employment & living in the land of denial. Time goes on though and soon you find yourself 4 months out of work and starting to really wonder if you are going to find another job. The pressure is on. People keep questioning you about your job hunting. “Have you gotten any phone calls or interviews? NO? Oh well, don’t worry it just takes time.” Sigh. Yeah it does take time…but will it happen before I’m out of benefits?

So this brings us to anxiety attacks. Panic is setting into the deep corners of my brain & making my body do funny things. Pounding heart for example. Feels like its going to jump right out of my chest sometimes. Tingling arms? Check. First time I actually thought I was having a heart attack. Oh and here is the best part of the anxiety – it leads to insomnia. I love my sleep. I love my bed & the rest if provides me. My brain, however, has now decided it would like to work 24 hours a day and not take any time to rest. So I lay awake most nights now, dozing from time to time, thinking way too many thoughts for very early in the morning.  I do get to see quite a few TV shows & movies during this time (I wish I could say they were quality but we all know how late night television is).

I guess all I can really do is deal with the consequences of my bodies reactions to my current situation for the time being. I practice yoga roughly 4 times a week, which should help. I’m trying to meditate. And I figured by sharing all my fears with you maybe my brain will relax a little & decide to take a lunch break.

So be forewarned people that are unemployed – it may not be happening now but at some point your brain & body will turn against you. You will think you are dying. You will feel like your life has no purpose. But don’t worry…I’ll be there with you to guide you through it.

 

 

Unemployed…again.

Hi world, its Chrissy. Nice to meet you.

If you’ve read my “about the runt” then you know I am currently lacking a full time job. Its not the first time (and with the economy the way it is, probably not the last either) that I have been without full time employment. But to give you a general idea of how used to this I am, let me give you a brief history:

In the past 11 years I have been laid off from four full time jobs. I have been laid off from one part time job. And I worked for one company that was going down the tubes and I bailed – I would have been laid off from that place too had I stayed. Good times.

I’m not going to lie – some of those times the unemployment was great. I had money coming in and a leisurely life. But then the reality always hits – I need to find employment. The difference this time is that I’m 34 – which may not seem old to some of you but to me I feel like I’m carrying a giant clock around thats ticking at the loudest decibel possible saying, “FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH YOUR LIFE!!”

So that leads me to where I am today. Married, educated, unemployed and trying to figure out what I want to do with my professional life. The only thing I’ve ever truly loved to do is write. I love writing. When I was in college I can remember waiting until the last minute & staying up all night typing a paper with music blaring in my ears. It was a rush to me – I loved it! And I might add, I always got good grades on those papers. It was just a talent I had – writing under pressure.

So right now I’m at the point in my life where my path seems to have different options. Do I go back to school for a Masters Degree in Journalism? Do I move to Boston or New York and try to find work there? (New York has always been a dream of mine…we’ll go into that another time). Or do I just look for another basic full time job to take and end up possibly miserable there, doing something I hate? (The latter is my least favorite option). Decisions, decisions. Looks like I’ve got some work to do…

Thanks for listening world & don’t worry this is only the beginning. Check back often for updates on my life and whatever I feel like writing about that day!