Day 6 – Unemployment Benefits

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I wrote a ‘Thank You’ note to an agency for their time today, and began it with a friendly opening. I said something to the effect of, it’s almost the weekend, but everyday is weekend day when you’re unemployed. This got me thinking…

Unemployment. Just the word brings different feelings to different people. Ex-President Ronald Reagan once said, “Unemployment is a pre-paid vacation for freeloaders.” I’m not gonna argue with Mr. Reagan, but I will politely say, define freeloader.

I don’t feel like a freeloader. For one thing, I haven’t received anything for “free.” I am still receiving my actual paycheck from the ad agency where I provided compelling headlines and gave up ideas like geo-targeting direct mail consumers (side note: I apologize to the readers who hate direct mail, just doing my job).

However, I did file a claim for unemployment today. Which means on January 22, I could collect that “free” payout. I’ll let you know on 1/22, but I still don’t think I will feel like a freeloader. While being paid via company, I worked my ass off. And as a resident of New York City, I paid for it. According to Mint.com (this is not a paid advertisement, but Mint.com is the shit), I gave up over $25,000 of my salary to taxes this year. 25?! That’s a Volkswagen—a nice one! And because I did that, I have earned the measly income this country allows while in-between jobs. It would also take me over 60 weeks to recoup that money, and I don’t think I will be collecting for that long (what’s the average time it takes to get a job these days?).

But I digress; Everyday does feel like a weekend day to me. I run errands while you run to meetings. I apply for jobs while you make mental notes to apply for that job you saw when you get home. I can work around other people’s busy schedules and, to be honest, it’s relieving. But, I’m still working.

I’m writing for one thing. This blog has given me a sense of purpose and the response has been amazing and surprising. People have in return shared with me their layoff and moving stories, they’ve given me suggestions and feedback, and for this I am grateful. I have had a couple people request more pictures—of my life as well as the people I am talking about. It’s in the works.

This has all been possible because I don’t have a job. The energy, imagination and desire to want to put myself out there has all been because as confident as I am that it will all be OK, I’m vulnerable at the same time. It’s new for me. NYC makes people hard, guarded and tough. It’s exhausting. For me, the benefits of unemployment don’t come in monetary form. They come in the comfort of knowing that opportunity is ahead; as long as I’m open to new things, new places, new experiences, I will benefit from this little severance project.

Speaking of all things new, I learned that I could apply for a Work/Holiday Visa in Australia for the low-low price of $420. This offer is only valid until I am 31—yes, apparently Australian’s are ageists. Does this mean the plane drops down in Sydney and I am just welcomed by a swarm of 18-31 year olds? Because I’d totally be down for that. But $420 just to apply? That’s quite the commitment.

What do you think? Is it worth trying my hand at a 1-year move to the land down under? Have you ever been? Let me know.

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