Posted by: jspiegel | June 15, 2009

#40: Procrastinate

procrastinationI was going to write a well-thought out, objective piece on how the unemployed can truly appreciate procrastination on a whole other level from employed people without suffering any of the professional consequences, but there’s a new set of “Entourage” episodes on Demand.

I’ll get to the post later.  Hopefully nothing will be too distracting so that I don’t have to stop in the mid—

Posted by: jspiegel | June 10, 2009

#39: Doing Nothing (Literally!)

nothingThere comes a time in the existence of every unemployed person where the act of doing something will simply become repetitive and unexciting.  The thought of engaging in some menial type of social activity, or participating  in some form of undertaking, venture, or task will no longer be found appealing.  Should you find yourself in this quandary, your first instinct will be to get up off your couch and force yourself into believing that some time of endeavor or interest is a healthy pursuit.

Do not let the trappings of nothingness frighten you.  Instead, embrace it.

Most people, unemployed or otherwise, will lead you to believe that they have many days in which they in fact, do nothing.  It’s one thing to make this bold declaration, and yet another to actually accomplish (or maybe not accomplish) it.  For an employed person, making the statement that they “did nothing at work today” is completely false and it is perfectly appropriate for you to amend their outrageous claims by suggesting they say they “spent the work day online shopping,” or that they “spent the work day on Facebook and Twitter,” or that they “spent the work day looking at pornography”.  All of these, while certainly not condusive to productivity, are still doing something.  Only those who are unemployed truly have the opportunity to literally, do nothing.

Even being unemployed, to do nothing all day is no easy feat, but is one that will eventually become more and more realistic.  As your days of joblessness go on, normal activities of watching endless television, consuming unecessary carbs, and spending hours trolling the internet will no longer thrill you in the same way as they did during your infant stages of unemployment.  Soon, your drive, motivation and will to do anything remotely productive will dwindle.  Only in this stage of mental frailty will the true act of nothingness be within your grasp.  Do not attempt to fight in.  Lay in bed while staring up at the ceiling.  Resist the urge to turn on the television as this might trap you into the activity of endless daytime soap operas.

With enough careful discipline, practice, and lack of a will to live, your day will be complete and when your significant other asks you “So what did you all day?” you can look at him or her and proudly proclaim, “Nothing!  So, what’s for dinner?”

Posted by: jspiegel | June 9, 2009

#38: Questioning the Logic of “Saved by the Bell”

saved by the bellAn overwhelming majority of the unemployed’s time will be spent sitting on their respective couches and either mindlessly scrolling through photo albums on Facebook, or watching an inordinate amount of television.   All the while, they will pretend not to notice their increasing waistlines and indendations made in their couch cushions.  There will eventually, however, be certain moments of revelation and introspection where the unemployed may ponder deeper and more existential questions such as: “What am I supposed to do with my life now?” or “Does G-d have a plan for all of us?” and even, “How come nobody noticed they replaced Jesse and Kelly in the final season of ‘Saved by the Bell’ with that biker chick, Tori?”

Truly, the television phenomenon that is “Saved by the Bell” has offered up a classic anecdotal sitcom that provided its audience with a romping teenage hijinx, combined with important public service annoucements for teenagers, usually offered up by the school principal/resident patriarchal figure, Mr. Belding (who ironically serves as a resident pedophile in real life).  Although many sitcoms of the late 1980s and early 1990s forced its viewers to suspend their disbeliefs as it related to logic and continuity, “Saved by the Bell” walked the line a bit more gingerly than others.  Although the audience for this long running show, and its spin-offs, certainly consisted of both employed and unemployed individuals, it is the unemployed people who have the time to ponder the deeper, more perplexing questions behind this hit television program.

The following is an example of some of the more mind-numbing mysteries of science and logic that surround the sitcom– questions only those who are unemployed would have the time and creative wherewithal to come up with:

– Did the producers of the show think that Bayside, California, an actual unincorporated community in Northern California,  just sounded like it would belong in the Pacific Pallisades area?

– What was the purpose of the Max’s Original owner, who was (creatively named) Max?  What kind of restaurant owner does magic tricks that seem to impress the studio audience more than the castmembers?  And why did he disappear without explanation after only one season?  Was he the victim of his own disappearing act?  He must not be a very good magician.

– How did all of them coincidentally end up being in the same classes?  Didn’t Bayside High have curriculums based on intellectual level placement like the rest of the country? (i.e. the “Earthquake” episode where Zach schemes to get out of a physics test.  PHYSICS?!  Why would he take such a demanding class?)

– In “Running Zack”, Zack finds out that he is part Native-American…….do I really have to say anything else?

– While in Mr. Belding’s office, the audience oftens hears, presumably, a secretarys voice informing him of some outlandish series of events that has just occurred.  Where is this mystery secretary and why do we never see her?  Furthermore, where is this mystery intercom and where is it being broadcast from?  Shouldn’t the secretary’s office be right outside the principals?  It seems the physical placement of the administrative staff is not condusive to Mr. Belding’s privacy.

– In the third season episode, “Wicked Stepbrother” the gang convinces Jesse’s red-headed stepchild of a brother to stay in Bayside.  They seemingly were successful, but he is never seen again.  Why?  Was he not happy with the lack of a stable curriculum?

– Throughout the series, Lisa Turtle, the token African-American on the show, seems to only date white males.  Is this due to a lack of affluent black males at Bayside?  Does she simply prefer “white meat?”  Why is it that the typical challenges faced by interracial couples do not apply to her?

– At one point, Mr. Belding mentions to Zack that he tried to sell the school to the Japanese (“What was wrong with ‘Honda High School?'”).  How could Zack, a C-student who can’t even pass physics, come up with a worthy business plan that would impress the unnamed potential Japanese buyers?

– In “A very special Christmas” episode, Zack falls for a surpisingly clean-looking homeless girl.  Where does she shower?  How did she get a job at the mall?  Did she give a fake address on her employment application?

– In the same episode, Zack’s family ends up taking in the homeless family until they back on their street, and yet we do not hear from them ever again.  We are left to assume they came to their senses and dropped them off at the nearest shelter.

– “Zack Attack”– really???

– Slater’s pants– see above.

– Zack somehow ends up getting into Yale all because he got a 1500 on his SATS.  I guess they overlooked his lack of any extracurricular activities and sub 2.0 GPA.  Hello!  THE KID COULDN’T EVEN PASS PHYSICS!

– In the final graduation episode, Screech invites Zack up to give an emotional impromptu speech about friendship.  At one point did the graduation committee flip through their programs and realize that this was not on the agenda?

– In the brief spinoff: “The College Years” half of the gang ends up at California University.  Why would Slater turn down his scholarship to Iowa?  Didn’t Zack get into Yale?  Something tells me these kids parents don’t have a keen eye on their childrens futures.

There are literally hundreds of other questions, flaws, and conundrums one could come up with as it relates to this entertaining, yet strikingly illogical TV sitcom.  If you unemployed, this activity should carve out a good chunk of your day.  If you are, in fact, employed then you have way too much time on your hands.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 8, 2009

#37: Hangovers


While the hangover itself is an experience that the unemployed are most equipped to combat, ironically they experience them at a much less rate than employed individuals.  The employed person will spend much of his or her out-of-office time (and perhaps some of their time in the office as well) knocking back Grandpa’s old cough syrup to forget about their hellish existence in mediocrity employment.  This, however, is no match for the amount of time the unemployed have to build up their own levels of tolerance, and as such, they will always have much greater stamina to combat alcohol’s nasty side effects (Note: this is not to be to confused with the disease of alcoholism, to which unemployed people stand a far greater chance of obtaining).  Should the unemployed person have an unusual occurrence of drinking more than he or she can handle, their lack of responsibility, obligation, and purpose in the world will leave them best-suited to nurse their pounding headache and jostled inner-ear balance by spending the next day in bed.  Such a tactic most often eludes those with jobs as it would require them to go in late, or call in sick– both tell tale signs that yesterday’s off-duty activities did not consist of putting in extra hours at the office.

Unemployed people can almost always immerse themselves in their hangover free of guilt and worry, whereas the employed person is damned any day of the week.  A hangover during a weeknight is usually followed with a day filled with low productivity and a closed office door aimlessly watching YouTube clips until five o’clock.  For the unemployed, that very same activity of watching video clips on the internet is considered creative thinking.  The weekends offer up the same sort of guilt trip for folks with jobs as their allotted two days off come with urgency to be active and not waste away their weekends.  Since every day is a weekend for the unemployed, Saturdays and Sundays are viewed no different to pursue (or more often, not pursue) any type of bender-induced venture they so choose with the fear of a hangover nowhere on their radar screen.

It’s an undisputed fact that excessive drinking is a viable and logical solution to many of the problems we are faced with today.  Whether it is problems at the office, a marriage on the rocks, or trouble with your parents who are angry at you for “using their credit card to order pornography”, all such misgivings can be drowned and forgotten with copious amounts of alcohol.  Of course, the one drawback in which most individuals are impervious to its wrath, is the dreaded hangover experienced the next day.  However, if you are unemployed, the hangover becomes just another weapon in your arsenal of excuses for another day filled with lethargy and languor.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 5, 2009

#36: Avoiding Traffic

drivingAlthough unemployment can initially bring about feelings of anxiety, depression, and inadequacy it certainly may be coupled with a sigh of relief knowing that no longer will you have to waste an average of two to three hours a day in your metal coffin commuting to and from a job that is only ten miles away from your home.

The morning and evening commutes, beneficial to only those who work in large radio markets, are an instant source of frustration and anger for the average employed person.  A traffic jam in the morning can ruin your entire day, and a five-mile backup in the evening can become detrimental to your “decompression time” that you so cherish before heading home to the ungrateful, life-sucking, freeloaders known as your “family”.  As such, becoming unemployed allows you to avoid these troublesome roads and highways and use this time to allow yourself to do more productive activities such as sleeping in or an enjoying an afternoon snack.

When it does become necessary to use your car, you will find the story with the traffic to be a much lighter and upbeat tale.  While everyone else wastes away in their offices and cubicles, you are free to enjoy the open road with a limited amount of drivers occupying the pathway to your destination.  You should take advantage of this newfound freedom by rolling down your windows and opening your sun roof and let the sweet smell of fresh air grab your senses.  It tastes a whole lot better than smog, cigarettes, and cheap cologne.  It is also acceptable at this time to put your radio or IPod to full blast while belting out songs such as “On the Road Again,” “Life is a Highway”, or anything by Kelly Clarkson, the latter of which you will not have to be embarrassed about since chances are no one else will be around to hear you.

Being unemployed also offers you tremendous advantages on busy travel days and holiday weekends.  Signs on major highways will usually advise drivers to start their weekend and/or holiday travel early.  How early?  How about ten in the morning?  Since you have the luxury of heeding their warnings you should use this opportunity to pack up the family mini van and “make great time” while getting on down to your in-laws.  

Be certain, when you are unemployed, to capitalize on the thrill of driving on the open road.  Avoiding the rush-hour traffic will certainly be worth it, even if the pay off is listening to a couple extra hours of your mother-in-laws psoriasis woes.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 4, 2009

#35: Always Being ‘Online’

onlineWith today’s technology, you are never too far away from your friends and family.  Texting, social utilities, and online chatting make communication instantaneous and ongoing.  Of course, for people in the working world, their nagging responsibilities that constitute their fancy jobs can sometimes force them to be pulled away from a very important and life-changing conversation.  How can they expected to be a reliable and trustworthy friend if they just up and leave in lieu of a “big meeting”?

Unemployment to the rescue!  With your schedule that is free of organized tasks and structure, you have the ability to be “that guy” who never goes idle on AIM, and whose G-Chat status is always green.  Your employed friends, while questioning exactly what you are doing all day, will be thankful for your ever-present status, ready to jump into a heartfelt conversation at a moments notice.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 3, 2009

#34: The Driving Range

johndalyWhen you are unemployed, it becomes an inevitability that you must give up certain luxuries such as new clothes, fancy cars, and the love and respect of your friends and family.  Included in this category of extravagance are sports of affluence such as golf.  Make no mistake about it, an afternoon filled with hitting the links can put a real pinch to the wallet and it is one that the unemployed cannot afford to take.

That is why there are driving ranges.  There is no more prominent a display of bourgeois leisure than by whacking a golf ball with no other purpose then to hit them as far as possible.  Even the sounds of the driving range scream middle class as expletive-filled tirades seem to echo from station from station.  Here, the unemployed can feel right at home.

Initially, the transition from a full eighteen holes to the driving range will be hard.  You will be used to a full day of sun and sand traps, not to mention doing a little wheeling and dealing while trying to nail down the Maxwell Account.  Put those days of corporate socializing behind you.  Try to avoid routine-based processes that you ’employed’ when you got ready to go on the course.  Avoid golf carts and the clubhouse, these are for members only or at least people who can afford to actually engage in a gentleman’s activity, and will only remind you of a life of civility that is no more.  From now on it’s just you, a bucket of balls, and a three-hundred yard marker as your goal of the day.

Once you have accepted your commonplace existence, you should have no problem enjoying yourself out on the driving range, or ‘home’ as people of the street so fondly refer to it.  In fact, the driving range can serve as place for you work out many of your unemployment frustrations.  It is not uncommon for a recently fired individual to imagine the golf ball they are about to hit as the head of their former boss, or as the arrogant douche-bag from IT who chided you for not knowing how many megabytes of RAM were stored on your computer (in truth, you probably didn’t even know what RAM was).  It is perfectly acceptable to couple such acts of frustration venting with booze and crying to add more of a dramatic effect.  Most likely anyone witnessing your irrational display of rage will simply chalk you up as ‘one of the regulars’.

Eventually, the driving range may become your safe haven.  A place to for you to relax and ponder your life all the while improving your long game.  Of course, if careful introspection does not calm you down, throw a golf club at the local bum wandering out by the two-hundred yard marker.  Hitting him is bound to make you feel better.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 2, 2009

#33: Become a 15 minute Internet Sensation

lander For the working stiffs of the world, spending time on the internet at work is supposed to be limited to work-related activities or minimal care-free browsing during carefully allotted break periods.  Naturally, such restrictions do not apply to your unemployed status and you are free to spend as much time as you please browsing the information super highway.  While eventually aimless web roaming will become cumbersome and repetitive, you may occasionally stumble across a gem of website, or blog, that tickles your funny bone in a way that begs you to forward these contents of hilarity onto your friends and family.  You soon come to find out that this website was created and written by your average Joe who really only wrote it to make a few of his friends laugh but is amazed at how its popularity spread like wildfire.

And you think to yourself, “I’m funny.  I have ideas.  I have time.  I could do this!”  Thus, the totally plausible and realistic goal of internet fame is born!

The first step towards internet stardom is to have an original idea.  Let’s say you want to write about things that white people like.  You could categorize this in a numbered fashion and let people comment on each posting.  Odds are, you will need to think of something a bit more creative as the chances of something like that taking off are slim to none.

Finding your own niche in the endless sea of internet humor can be tricky.  There is so much originality and creativity surfing the world wide web that sometimes the biggest difficulty can be carving out your own unique brand of the funnies.  This has become such a daunting task, that now people have begun to find success in taking completely unoriginal ideas and transcribing them onto a website all the while allowing participation from the general public.  For example, you know it’s funny to read back the texts you might have sent people after a night of drinking?  Well what about a website where everyone could send their drunken texts from last night? Of course it does seem pretty foolish, but who knows?  It could catch on.  Or, you could host a domain where folks could post hilarious little tidbits and parables describing the miserable situations they get themselves into.  Considering most decent people prefer not to revel in the misfortunes of others, a site like that might be in poor taste.

Once you have found what works for you, it is then important to fashion your own viral internet campaign.  Employed people are a terrific primary source for grass-roots marketing efforts.  Be sure to send your website to all of them.  Do not bother with your unemployed friends as they are probably too busy trying to create their own slapstick brand of comedy and will leave you in the dust.  Employed people love funny forwards and will send your link along in a machine-like fashion through word-of-mouth, emails, even posting your link in their status updates so as to alert all of their other employed friends who are on Facebook while they should be working.  It is important that, through these efforts, you do not self-promote.  Although you secretly wish nothing more than be discovered and put on the cover of Rolling Stone holding a cardboard sign with an ironic message such as “Will Blog for Food”, you must remember that to the world you are not in this for fame or fortune.  Whether four people or four-thousand people visit your site, you just want to make some people laugh.

Should people end up catching the fever of your website, enjoy the fame and adulation.  As quickly as internet comes, so it goes with the next big craze in its stead.  Soon, your hits will dwindle, and links to your page will be replaced by the next big in internet comedy.  Employed people are restless, and while they will sing your praises at the top of their lungs, your clever antics and sarcastic quips that poke fun at the things people can do if they don’t have jobs will soon grow old and tiresome.

As you continue your downward spiral on the rungs of society’s food chain, you will come to realize the three of fundamental constants.  One, is that there are hundreds of slightly-humorous and post-modern-ironic websites being created each and every day.  Two, is that your employed friends love to look at these to break up the monotony of their day.  Three, is that they will grow tired of it after a day or two and proceed to proclaim the brilliance of the next great blog they get forwarded.  As a member of the unemployed tribe, you should do what you can to become a part of the internet sensation party.  It will be the proudest fifteen minutes of your life.

Posted by: jspiegel | June 1, 2009

#32: Intramural Leagues

dodgeballBeing unemployed, you will spend unfathomable amounts of time in your home.  As your days and weeks of existing outside the peripheral vision of society continue, it will soon be necessary for you to venture into world that extends beyond your couch and television, if for no other reason then to retain your basic and primitive social skills.  Thankfully, many urban areas offer organized and slightly competitive activities that can offer the perfect solution to your social lethargism.

At first, joining an intramural team might seem to be something that is ‘out of your league’.  Being unemployed, it is certainly a challenge to put yourself out there on the same playing field as people with goals, ambitions, and 401Ks.   Thankfully, intramurals is an activity that has a high level of participation from all walks of life and acceptance is their Modus operandi.  Your teammates do not care about your level of economic success and will certainly not fault you for your inability to hold a steady job (at least not to your face).

For you, your chief concern should be to follow the rules of social ettiquete that have been established in the world on intramurals.  Unless you are new to unemployment, and the idea of working out is one that still holds appeal, chances are you have experienced a significant amount of weight gain and have grown indifferent to the crevace in the couch that has uncannily molded itself to the shape of your fat ass.  Such apathy should be stifiled as you attempt to assuage your Mother’s growing concerns of inactivity.  Your intramural counterparts will be looking to you as someone who is ready and willing to participate and have fun while doing so.  Most importantly, they will be viewing you as an equal.  This kind of reverence may seem daunting at first but you should welcome these moments of parity, even if they only occur for ninety minutes every day, and put forth your best effort that will gain you the respect and adoration of your peers.

Consequently, if you are still within the realm of being newly unemployed, odds are you may still ‘care about life’ and have that pesky competitive spirit still creeping around inside of you.  It is equally as important for you to purge this ‘go-get-em’ attitude as quickly as Mary Kate Olsen let go of last night’s dinner.  Your teammates will be looking for a laid-back and enjoyable environment free of pressures and stresses that they no doubt have during their work week.  Of course it will be tempting to keep the flames of competition ignited.  After all, they do give you a reminder of what it was like to have drive and aspiration.  However, the longer you can keep those now useless intangibles at bay, the more you will be able to fit in with your teammates.  Just remember that they are looking for the same reprieve that you now experience every day.  Don’t rub their noses in it.

Hopefully, at the end of the day, your time on the intramural field will leave you with some new friends, some fond memories, and only a few strained muscles.  Remember, when your heart starts beating at a rapid pace and you become short with breath, that’s just from you pushing yourself physically.  You’re not having a heart attack…

…unless you’ve been unemployed for awhile.  Then maybe you are.

Posted by: jspiegel | May 29, 2009

#31: Dream of Being Famous

DaydreamRemember when you were a small child and the skies were the limit to what you could accomplish?  You became president of your homeroom in fifth grade and thought, “I could do this for a living!”  You got an A on your first book report and already were planning out your acceptance speech for the Pulitzer Prize.  There were no limits what you could do.

Then, in seventh grade, you got a C on your report on “To Kill a Mockingbird” because you kept referring to Boo Radley as ‘that big retard’ and you received no votes in the election for hall monitor; and you voted for yourself!

Eventually, people come to terms with their mediocrity and normalcy.  Such acceptance allows for a consistent population of middle-class workers who, while not happy with their jobs grow to be content with their lives.  Most importantly, they have stopped fancying a more glamorous existence since the reality of their lives and their jobs does not give them enough time to do so.

This gives you, the unemployed, a rare opportunity for a new and unique lease on life.  Perhaps it is time to start dreaming again about being an award-winning writer.  Sure, you haven’t written anything since your last writing seminar in college (where the professor questioned whether you even belonged in the class), but more importantly  you already have prepared a series of answers to questions that will be asked to you by a reporter from Rolling Stone AND you have picked out the outfit you will wear when they put you on the cover.  You might not have acted a lick since you played Tevye in your camp’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” but you can already recite verbatim the first thirty minutes of your talk with James Lipton when you are on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”.

Unemployment gives you plentiful amounts of time to dream, even if you never do.  Sure you now have the option of taking up painting again, but wouldn’t it be more fun to skip through all of the angst, effort, and failure and just simply imagine that you are a world-famous artist?  In your delusions of grandeur, no one will criticize your works (if they do you have much larger issues to deal with).  Taking the time to actually labor away at your imaginary talent is foolish and wasteful, but realizing its fictitious possibilities will give you visions of fame and glory that only could be achieved in your mind.

Being famous has become a profession in and of itself.  There are plenty of people who have no talent, gift, or substance to offer to society and yet while we look upon these people with jealousy disguised as loathing, these people give all those with no jobs and no special skills a small ray of hope and teach a very important lesson.  Sure they will never sell out Madison Square Garden, but it’s more important that they’ll be able to tell news reporters the incredible feelings they felt when they did.

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