Unsolicited (and Really Bad!) Advice

When my husband lost his job in November, a few people (whom I'd like to see mauled by bears) suggested that he "take a few months off" to "process" this life event.

Unfortunately, this was just the kind of advice he'd been longing to hear. I, on the other hand, when he called from Penn Station to break the news before boarding his final commuter train of 2013, was more like, "Let's update your resume the split second after you file for unemployment!"

Oh, he was having none of that. I figured, ok, let him take a few days to enjoy his new-found freedom. As I've mentioned, he hadn't been happy at his job in a long time so I tried to play it cool while my blood pressure soared to near-stroke levels each time I heard him tell people, "What a blessing!" or "I just watched Letterman for the first time in two decades. It's incredible."

I was hoping a brief respite was all he needed before he came out of the attic, where he was busy rearranging three dozen pairs of hand-me-down cleats, filled with energy and enthusiasm, more determined than ever to embark on a new path. Not the case.

He found a myriad of ways to pass the time and none of them involved job hunting. There was the Y, of course, and he'd taken over the carpool and laundry, which, don't get me wrong, was lovely. Until I was also let go in late January. My lay off was not a surprise but rather one that had been months in the making. After hearing colleagues summarily dismissed via conference calls in the months leading up to the restructuring that sealed my fate, I'd begun sending out resumes in earnest last August but still had not received much beyond the automated, "We've received your information and will be in touch if your background meets our requirements."

While I knew how difficult it would be for us to find work, (we're competing with tech-savvy interns who can afford to work for the experience and promise of a hip happy hour) I think my husband believed that following a few simple key strokes the offers would come pouring in.

Now we were home together and jobless for the first time ever, fighting over the last bit of cereal and who left the milk out while wearing sweatpants that looked like cast-offs from "The Sopranos" set. The days began to blend into one another as we slipped into a "Now what?" funk.

By February, I knew I'd better intervene before he began alphabetizing the spice rack-a task that could last well into June. Mustering my courage, I broke it to him this way, "I think your 'process'ing grace period is up. We have three kids, I'd like to think at least one of them will go to college."

He nodded in agreement and within a few days began reaching out to people who might be able to help get his freshly-updated resume in front of the right people. But just when I thought I was making some progress, another well-meaning relative suggested he join Facebook.

To someone who is out of work, that is like saying "Why don't you start watching 'One Life to Live' from its inception?'' Could there be a larger time-sucking black hole in our society today?

Yes, it's infinitely entertaining to see how old and tired your high school prom queen looks now but we don't have that kind of time anymore. Facebook might be amusing but it's not putting food on the table. The last thing I need is him devoting countless hours to find out which "Downton Abbey"character he most resembles. (Not to mention, if he ends up a "Mr. Mosley" I just couldn't take it.)  I also don't want to know which aging rocker or musical orphan he's most like.

It would be fine if we were sitting on a gold mine, had a small trust fund or even a pricey baseball card that we could cash in to keep the kids in after-school snacks. But we have a mortgage to pay and, unfortunately, no divine guarantee that we won't ever need to seek medical treatment again in our lives.

So you might be asking, why wasn't he on Facebook already? Because he was busy working! Also, up until this point, I liked that he was verging on Amish-man status when it came to social media-not only because he treated me like I was Mark Zuckerberg when I showed him how to upload a photo to LinkedIn but also because I had no fear of him secretly reuniting with the camp counselor he'd had a crush on the summer before his junior year of high school. And you know they'd find each other within 8 hours of him choosing a password and she'd still have long, shiny braids and probably little-to-no unsightly chin hair. And I don't care if her intentions are pure or if she's a kitten-rescuing, Prius-driving lesbian who teaches Flaubert, just stay out of our cyberspace.

But again he's embraced this diversion and is now in the midst of planning a summertime reunion with childhood neighbors I'd never heard of. Fabulous. Let's just hope one of them offers him a job.


Popular Posts