I think it goes without saying that when you’re unemployed there’s a certain expectation that you will have quite a bit of free time. I’m sure most people use this new found ‘freedom’ to start a job search, work on developing skills that will make them more attractive to potential employers, or simply look on in despair while watching their bank account dwindle. I’ve taken a slightly different bent over the past couple months on how to approach having so much down time. I’ve chosen to enjoy the time away from work and work related stress. I mean, in due time I plan on being back in that environment, and I’m sure I’ll be longing for these ‘care free’ days.
Of course, this approach has come with its share of unexpected surprises (both good and bad). I like to call these moments the unintended consequences of being unemployed. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- During the month of March I was able to watch Spring Training baseball games on TV. It may not be the most exciting thing in the world to watch, but it’s better than watching Sportscenterfor the tenth or eleventh time in a row or 90% of the crap networks like to call daytime programming
- By mere coincidence my first week out of work happened to coincide with a wave of record high temperatures in Columbus. This led to afternoons at the driving range (couldn’t get a foursome together to play an actual round of golf since everyone else was at this place called work), sitting on restaurant patios with adult beverage(s) in hand, and turning happy hour into happy hours
- Also by mere coincidence, my first week out of work happened to coincide with the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament. Now, spending an entire Thursday watching the games at bar can be considered an intended consequence (I mean, anybody take a vacation day and do the same thing). The unintended consequence of being unemployed, however, came the next day: I could lie on the couch nursing my hangover all day Friday without having to call into work sick or use a vacation day.
- Of course, the best part was when my landlord showed up unannounced at 4:30 in the afternoon to show my townhouse (her husband forgot to call or email ahead), and I was still on the couch in gym shorts and undershirt nursing my hangover. Can’t say I was too surprised when the couple being shown the apartment failed to sign a rental agreement.
- While they didn’t rent the apartment, the female half of the couple did suggest using colloidal silver to help prevent traveler’s diarrhea (we were discussing my plans to travel, or that would have been awkward. Well, more awkward than discussing bowel movements with complete strangers already is). After doing some research on Webmd I decided to pass on trying this form of self medication since not only does the FDA consider the mineral unsafe and ineffective, but the side effects include “irreversible bluish skin discoloration” and stimulation of “melanin production in the skin”. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not return from this trip looking like a smurf with skin cancer.
- I also stopped shaving when I left work and grew an ‘unemployment’ beard. Not just any beard, the unemployment beard grew in so thick and hairy over the course of a month that I rightfully earned the nickname ‘Grizzly Adams’. While many friends have since tried to replicate my success at growing facial hair, none have come close to matching it (for the female portion of the audience, being able to grow facial hair is guy code for showing how manly you are).
- The Grizzly Adams look did have its positive aspects, though. For instance, a slightly intoxicated, but very cute girl stopped me on the street to say ‘You’re hot’ (okay, she was probably wasted and was sporting a big ol’ pair of beer goggles to have called me hot). There’s no truth to the rumor this incident had me seriously considering throwing out my razor for good and loading up my wardrobe with flannel shirts and knit hats.
- On a more serious note (if there is such a thing in this blog post), it was a great feeling when I walked into a corporate environment for the first time while sporting the beard, shorts, and flip flops. I’m not sure if the stares I received were of envy or disgust, but I didn’t care.
- Afternoon naps. Need I say more?
- I think I’ve seen every single episode of Friends on TBS. That’s part of the 10% of daytime programming I can actually stand watching.
- I’ve become quite good at Words With Friends.
- I’ve conducted at least one interview over the phone while sitting on the couch wearing my gym shorts and an undershirt. On a side note, maybe I spend too much time sitting on the couch while wearing gym shorts and an undershirt
- Since moving back home I’ve been able to graduate from the driving range and play quite a few rounds of actual golf. The regular foursome I play with almost always consists of my Dad and his fellow retiree friends, but there are benefits to this arrangement. Notably, I feel like Superman when I hit my drives 2-3 times further than they do. Plus, I always find at least a dozen discarded balls when I go hunting for my occasional stray shot into the woods - well, maybe more than occasional. Not to mention I seem to always come away with an extra beer.
- One final unintended consequence of being unemployed was that I was able to attend a speech by President Obama at Ohio State one afternoon (doesn’t matter what your political views are, how many times do you get to see the President?). Best of all? I didn’t have to worry about the colossal traffic mess the President’s motorcade created when he left for the airport in the middle of afternoon rush hour.
While I can’t say being out of work has been all peaches and cream (I especially miss the daily interactions with co-workers), I think the above examples show that I’m enjoying life as much as I can. If nothing else, I like to think I’m getting some good practice in for when retirement finally rolls around.