In a couple of days I will rejoin the working world after eight months of unemployment. Some days it’s scary, others days exciting depending on which day of the week you ask. The one thing I am looking forward to is getting a real check again. South Carolina can keep their damn unemployment check. Well…they can keep it after next week.
When we first heard about possible layoffs, everyone kept telling me there was no way I’d be on the list, but I knew otherwise. As a Black woman living in a very unbalanced society, I’ve learned most times it’s better to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when something good happens in the corporate world. Everyone is expendable. At the end of the day, it’s all about the bottom line. You sit and think you’re so important that you can’t be fired if you want. You’ll get your feelings hurt real fast. Let that budget be off and see how quickly they fire your ass. Oh, excuse me, lay you off. Call it what you want. Either way the checks stop coming.
Imagine having to sit at the job for a whole month after being handed your “get the fuck out” envelope. As contract workers we couldn’t receive severance pay (couldn't...wouldn't...either way were were screwed) so the company called themselves doing us a favor by giving us a month’s notice. Gee thanks. A month to be tortured by the fact that everyone sitting around us could breath a sigh of relief that they were spared while we, the laid off, were expected to continue like business as usual. I’m not bitter. Eight months later, I’m much better.
I was able to start graduate school, something I’d put off for so long. When a job pays well, it’s easy to convince yourself you’ll start school “next fall.” Yeaaaah, right. Next thing you know it’s been five years and you realize you could’ve finished the damn degree by now. The good thing is I’d already been accepted into graduate school last fall so it was just a matter of signing up for classes for the spring semester. There’s no way I could’ve taken three classes while working and make any grade above a D. Things happen for a reason.
Other benefits to being unemployed: no alarm clocks, being able to run errands while everyone else is at work, napping when I wanted, no pain in the ass coworkers to deal with, walking the bridge when I felt like it, watching television late into the night. I’m gonna miss watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force but Frylock, Shake and Meatwad aren't going to pay my bills.
It’s hard living off that fat check from unemployment. Let the Republicans tell it, I should be closing on a new house with all the damn money I’m getting from unemployment. Unless you live with your parents, there’s no way anyone can live solely off of unemployment. Rent, car note, utilities, bills. If you’re lucky, it’ll cover rent and maybe some of the utilities. Without any backup income, paying anything else is wishful thinking. Eating out and shopping become a thing of the past. Not being able to vacation sucks big time. I almost lost my mind when I was finally able to take a weekend trip to Atlanta last month. You’d have thought I won a trip to Tahiti or something.
I thank God I don’t have to play “catch up the bills.” My good credit is still in tact. It wasn't easy. Being unemployed during a recession brings with it a very deep feeling of helplessness. I never want to feel like my life is in South Carolina's unemployment office’s hands again. Next time the Democrats might not have the majority vote and I might be sitting on the curb with my belongings after my unemployment runs out after six months.
Now I save before I spend and have a little more faith that when layed off, something better is around the corner. I'm proof of that.