I’ve been unemployed for 6 months now. I have eaten through my overdraft, moved out of my flat, am living with friends, had to put all my stuff in another friends’ garage (all of which has probably frozen solid now) and haven’t even had an interview for any of the hundreds of jobs I’ve applied for yet. All around I hear of people in similar and worse predicaments. Shops and businesses are being closed down daily, unemployment is at quite a low, benefits are being brutally trimmed and everyone seems generally pretty pissed off. I have always been a miserable and grumpy person. For various reasons this works well as a defence mechanism, in short it makes the best logical sense to be pessimistic: Think everything is shit and you won’t be disappointed but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the few good things in life happen.
What I’m getting at is, the fight has gone out of me. I woke up this morning after another crap week of bugger all without even the pretty snow to look at that everyone else got and realised that living off my friends’ goodwill is unfair and a job isn’t just round the corner. This is clearly a long-haul flight and I can’t keep moving between the cabins… if you can follow that metaphor.
My problem is this: Having, after 28 years, discovered what I want to do with my life and realising this is a challenging objective (but at least knowing the direction is a start) do I take the chance and jump headfirst into this and throw social obligation to the wind? Or do I get back on the treadmill of 9-5, get a room in a shared place and try to get all my reading and writing done in my free time? Convention, society, my friends, my family, logic and my bank manager say the latter. The little voice inside me says the former.
You need money to live in our current world. Society requires input on our behalf to function and by trade allows us to have our luxuries of warmth, comfort and indulgence. This means you need a job to help society run smoother so you can have money to pay for goods and services. Most of the planet does this. My argument is that I have no qualifications or experience that put me in line for a job of high standing or quality, and my temperament excludes me from most ‘interactive’ jobs. By that I mean I’m too thick for a good job and I don’t want a shit job. Most of what I’m told to do by well-meaning friends and relations is supermarket/sales/bar work. I realise this is my best option and should therefore do it to get the money, to get a place to live, etc etc. But I fucking hate bars, I don’t even drink for chrissake. I’ve worked in supermarkets and retail, I fucking hate it. I hate interacting with other human beings. If you want to see humanity’s true nature, observe how they treat retail assistants. The concurrent argument to this is that “it’s a job/work/money/etc”, as in “it may be shit but someone’s got to do it and its going to have to be you kiddo because you’re lazy if you don’t”. So for the last 10 years that is what I have done. Taken any shitty job presented to me because it “pays the bills” and because I don’t know what I’m doing.
I know sooooo many people who don’t do this and no one gripes at them. I know more than a few people who have their rent/monthly budgets paid for by their parents and/or some other benefactor. My Mum can’t afford to pay for her living costs let alone her four children’s. I have, on many occasions, subsisted on the kindness of my friends but am now aware patience is running out. I know other people who simply have never had “a proper job” or at least when they have, have immediately ditched it for a better one, more in line with their career. I have ditched shit jobs before, I boosted from a cleaning job at a University after a day once, luckily I got a job straight after. I also know a small few who literally do nothing all day everyday. I’ve done this in the past for a brief stint. The other thing that bugs me about this is TV/Films/Books. Fiction frequently has a character who is unemployed and still manages to live in a nice flat and afford to live. Sure they have troubles and worries but they tick over just fine. For years. This is not a helpful stereotype to cultivate. Yet I know people in real life who achieve this. How do people do this?
The other problem is that being a white male between the age of 18 and 40 everything I have written thus far is moot as this all simply seems to the observer as an over privileged white boy whining about why he should have to work for a living. The obvious and correct logic being: “Shut the fuck up whining and go and work in a bar”.
This, whilst admittedly the case, is not entirely true. I have ‘paid my dues’, I’ve done shit jobs for 10 years and hated every second of it. I am now unemployed and homeless and that’s pretty shitty as well. However, I finally have a goal in my life and a desire to succeed and, most importantly, a passion for the work I am doing/want to be paid for. What I am saying is why not give me, and by extension – everyone, their ideal job they are best suited for? People would be more productive and general morale would be higher. I am not suited to dealing with people or anything that requires intelligent debate, thought or hard physical work. I’ve always been a miserable, ignorant runt of a man so why put me in a situation where it would upset me and everyone around me just so I can earn £6 an hour? Why not keep me locked away where I can write and read so I can contribute helpfully to society and my fellow man that way?
Because that is not part of our social contract. Get your job at Tescos, stack the shelves and shut the fuck up about it.
Great, what a wonderful world we live in. Dreams really can come true.