We can give you articles, advice and resources until we're blue in the face - and we will - but the ties that we believe truly bind us are our shared experiences as members of the Pink Slipped nation. Sure, we may be gainfully employed (for the moment at least) in the business of dispensing unemployment truth, commentary and humor, but there isn't anyone among us who hasn't experienced a layoff, or a long period of unemploymentality. To that end, we're going to try something new around here that we like to call the Temporary Tales, wherein we relate anecdotes of odd jobs, temp jobs, part time jobs, time-passing techniques or sanity maintenence tactics that we employed during our own struggles with unemployment. We'll give it a shot to start, but we'd love to hear your stories as well as this thing continues to roll along. They can be inspirational, horrifying, hilarious or fall somewhere in between those categories, but if you think you've got a Temporary Tale worth sharing, be sure to send it to us at PinkSlipped@Vault.com.
Personally, I can very clearly recall my brush with the Pink Slip. It happened after a failed internship-for-hire experience at World Wrestling Entertainment, where I spent my hours dodging tobacco loogies from a certain ringside play-by-play announcer who also served as my boss, and writing "live results" of matches that were taped three days prior. I always told people I was a writer of "creative non-fiction," which seemed more appealing to me than saying that I was in the business of fooling grade-schoolers and rednecks into thinking that Mr. McMahon's traveling circus was somehow real. However, that opportunity fizzled out and I soon found myself doing all sorts of stuff unemployed people like - sleeping until noon, spraying stock resumes into the darkness while convincing myself that I was somehow doing due dilligence, gleefully depositing checks for 300 bucks a week. Yet of all the ways I passed my time, the one thing that stands out in my mind is the amount of time I spent cleaning.
At the time, I was living in a 3 bedroom house with 2 other guys my age, and the place would naturally get messy. Cleaning up around the house was, I suppose, a way for me to feel a part of the place while the roommates were gone, and a way for me to feel like I was doing something productive while relatively little seemed to be getting accomplished in the big picture. I'd scrub every piled up pot and pan in the sink and run the dishwasher. I'd bust out the vacuum and hit every corner, every nook, every stair, and even those tricky spots under the couch (and in between the cushions). I'd spray down and shine tabletops, counters and toilets until they shined like the top of the mo'friggin Chrysler Building. I'd sweep, mop and sweep again, just like they taught us in fraternity pledging. I'd gas mask myself with a shirt around the face and clean out whatever was livin' in the fridge. I'd get all Danny Tanner and clean the cleaning supplies. I'd spend entire days making that place sparkle. And when I was all done, I'd slump down on the couch and inhale a long, satisfied sigh of Lemon Pledge scented accomplishment. Was I any closer to a job? No. Was I any closer to changing out of my pajamas? Hell no! But I had done something tangible, something productive, and effectively used the skills and tools at my disposal to provide something of value to those around me. To this day, my housemates from those days will still recall fondly the nights when they'd return home to find the place in mint condition. At a recent gathering of old friends, one of those roommates could be heard distinctly recounting stories of those early post-college days. "Schiff might not have been working, but our place never looked so good!"
The thing I took away from all of those hours spent cleaning is that there are so many ways that you can create value and feel important about yourself, even if you're not churning out the presentations, deals and reports of your friends and family on the 9-to-5 grind. Perhaps most imporatant is understanding that you should never trivialize or downplay anything that you're doing to keep yourself up during your period of unemployment. If something makes you feel good, no matter how small or unimportant it may seem in the shadows of your bigger goals, go ahead and do it. Your mental health is far too important, especially during an experience as stressful as a job search, for you to cast aside activities like cleaning up around the house as insignificant. These seemingly little things are often just what you need to feel like you're being productive and worthwhile in the absence of a desk, office and boss. Just think - if I had been holding a regular job at that time, the three of us would be living in the squalor of a jobless, homeless gang of bums (or at the very least, a gang of 20something bachelors, which you could certainly argue is an equally squalorly lifestyle). In many ways, cleaning the house allowed me to clean my stressed out mind of negative thoughts. Maybe it seems like nothing more than a temporary distraction, but it gave me so much more than that. At the end of the day, I could go to sleep with a clear head and wake the next morning up to a shiny clean home with a shiny new outlook that today would be the day I'd make something happen in my job search. I wouldn't wake up until noon, of course, but man did that house shine in the midday sun.
Got a Temporary Tale you have to tell? Send it to us at PinkSlipped@Vault.com.
--Posted by Steven Schiff, Asst. Producer Vault.com
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