Since I’m certain you all follow us on Twitter, I’m sure you read the Tweet one of our team members posted on Tuesday:
@Trivialpursuits: “How wonderful would it be to be a professional sportsman, musician, artist, etc. I mean compared to the mundane boredom of office life”
I recently left my job which I suppose means I’m unemployed. Although, I prefer to call myself ‘a freelance writer’ – an artist of sorts, who, as the tweet suggests, goes about their day feeling wonderful for they don’t work in an office.
There are many perks to being unemployed. But ever conscious that the majority of TP’s readership are in employment, I’m not going to witter on about how amazing it is. In fact, I’m going to detail all the things one thinks would be amazing about being unemployed and demonstrate how they are in fact, not so amazing after all.
You don’t have to get up in the mornings
It’s true, you don’t. But weirdly you do. Not ‘you do have to get up’ but you do just get up anyway. It’s habitual. Or rather, you don’t want to get stick from friends who call at lunchtime and get the salutation: [shuffle, shuffle, cough, clear throat] ‘Herrroww?’
The generic response to that greeting is this: ‘You bastard.’
You can watch daytime TV
There’s a reason it’s not on at night time. Or rather, two reasons. Jeremy Kyle would give you nightmares and Insurance Claim Ads are so dire and tedious, you’d probably find yourself seeking an actual accident just to evade ever having to watch them again.
You can do whatever you like
No. You can’t. Generally speaking the things we do cost money. And if you’re unemployed, for all the freedom, merriment and everything else you may enjoy, lack of money doesn’t make up for it. Mostly you find yourself sitting around thinking about all the things you could be doing, should you have any money to do them with.
It’s fun to be impoverished
I’ve yet to find enjoyment using Tesco’s Value Bog Roll and so, might I add, has my derriere.
There’s no one to tell you what to do
This also is true. No one is the boss of you except you. And yes that is a liberating feeling – in a Bridget Jones ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T’ kind of way. But the things is, being unemployed means people tell you what to do anyway. I’m not talking about nice folk helping you find a new job; I’m talking about the people who assume you sit around all day doing nothing and therefore have all the time in the world to do everything. And if you don’t do what they tell you to do, what the hell have you been doing all day?
Take my flatmate. Although he’s not actually told me what to do, I’m sure he thinks about it regularly. Like mentioning our front door steps which are itching to be cleaned. I’ve vaguely said I’d do them, and in truth, I could be doing them now. But I’m not. I’m busy. Writing this.
Someone also recently told me to start writing the million thank you letters I still owe. But I blogged about that a while ago – Thank you and Goodnight – and sadly, unemployment hasn’t altered my enthusiasm for doing that job either.
You can meet up with friends for lunch during the day
Yes, that is all well and good but lunch can be expensive when you don’t make it yourself out of a tin. Prêt A Manger is a luxury of yesteryear and sitting ‘at table’, reserved solely for birthdays.
Lunch dates are also not like dinner ones – they’re never set in stone. I look forward to lunch dates because invariably they signal the first time in the day I’ve had to leave the house. They are a pivotal juncture in my daily routine – crucial to the smooth running of the rest of my day.
However. When friends with jobs make these arrangements and then cancel, my day is ruined. Yes, ruined. What do I do with myself, where is the structure, how to go on? I feel cross and resentful, and it’s all my friend’s fault. My friend’s fault for having a job and being stupid and unreliable.
How to lose friends and alienate people? Become unemployed.
You do all the personal administrative things you don’t have time to do at weekends
Sadly, nope, this doesn’t happen either. After four weeks, my bank statements remain un-filed, I’ve not cleared out my cupboards, my photos are still un-albumed, clothes un-dry cleaned and DVDs unsorted. I haven’t been to the dentist, nor for a haircut, nor signed up to the library, nor organised a Boots/Tesco’s/Sainsbury’s club card. I’ve not stocked my freezer with homemade pies and soups for the winter, nor endured early morning runs to get fit and neither have I written a book.
Why? I’ve been busy.
People look at you enviously
I’ve lost count how many people have told me how lucky I am. Why am I lucky? Because I’m unemployed and don’t have to go to work on Mondays? Anybody could be like that – quit your job and don’t go on to another one. It’s quite simple really. It doesn’t mean you suddenly come into an inheritance, win the lottery or get monthly salaries from the bank of Mum and Dad. Far from it.
Every day becomes a stomach churning battle. A battle for money. Each night I go to sleep and each morning I wake, wondering how the hell I am going to pay to breathe the next day. You work out how much you absolutely need to cover bills and rent – and then panic about how you’re going to do it.
You’re Erin Brockovich – circling jobs in newspapers, eating pineapple chunks from a jar and shivering in jumpers because the heating’s too expensive.
And then you become Scrooge, cursing people under your breath who ask for ‘spare change’ – [“NONE OF IT’S SPARE, CLOT”] – or, worse, a cigarette.
It also worries me that I am an employer – I have a cleaner. If I don’t earn money, she doesn’t get paid and she’s out of a job. And I don’t want that extra dollop of guilt plonked on my shoulders when I already feel guilty about everything else in my life, like spending money on things that aren’t critical for my survival – taking the tube or buying gum.
So in short, ye workaholics, as lovely as it sounds, being unemployed or ‘an artist who lives from hand to mouth’, isn’t as idyllic as one might think. It’s actually rather stressful for you do basically have a job – it’s called Existing. And with that you wave goodbye to holidays, sick pay, company lunches, office drinks (which you may not enjoy but hell, free alcohol), bonuses (should you be lucky enough to expect one) and going into work on a hangover, spending all day on facebook and still getting paid a full day’s wage.
In reality, I say you’re the lucky ones.
Although…as I sit here, bashing away at my keyboard, Radio 4 in the background, dressed in jim-jams at 1:30 in the afternoon – would I really rather be sitting at a desk, answering phones, sending emails and staring at the clock like my life depended on it?
No, course not. I’m funemployed.
By Beenie Langley