It seemed like a great idea at first. I’d always had at least one job since I was 13, so driven that I was back to work precisely six weeks to the day after giving birth to my daughter even though it was a Sunday. Years later, a lawyer-saturated divorce and custody battle while attempting to hold a senior level corporate position had left me exhausted and running on fumes. I knew it and so did everyone else around me. I was ready for a change.
When I found myself unemployed in April 2009 I was surprised at the sense of relief that washed over me. I updated my resume and applied to a couple of jobs but truth be told, I was in no hurry to brush my teeth before noon. I felt like I was on Summer Vacation again and this time it was with my amazing seven year old daughter and a nifty little severance package!
There is something to be said for going to sleep at night knowing that you don’t have to wake via an alarm. We spent the summer making Mickey Mouse pancakes each morning (and sometimes for dinner). I watched in awe as my daughter learned how to do back flips in gymnastics class while the other seasoned stay-at-home moms played on their iPhones. We took golf lessons together and spent ridiculously long amounts of time splashing in the pool and reading trashy magazines. OK…I read the trashy magazines…Holly just splashed around. She’s seven, remember?
Before long it was Back to School time and I decided that I was ready to join the workforce again. Little did I know that my timing was tragically flawed; apparently while I was busy sleeping in each morning dreaming of back flips and pancakes there was a nation-wide economic downfall going on. Instead of landing a serious interview my Inbox was filled with news of friends who had lost their jobs as well.
I’m not sure which of us first used the term “FUnEMPLOYMENT”, however it quickly caught on with my motley crew of corporately displaced friends. Sure, we were all scared to death at first. That first COBRA bill is a reality check on steroids. Despite the loss of everything material we’d ever accumulated (401K plans, luxury cars, monster credit limits and what I like to call “Mc Mansions”), somehow it felt better knowing my colleagues were in the same boat. Besides, I’m not so sure that I would have found the discipline or inner strength to downsize and re-evaluate what truly means most to me in life had I been able to immediately renter the workforce. Yes, to me a half-filled glass means it’s time for a refill.
So what does one do with their bad ol’ self after applying for every single job on the Internet just short of door-to-door perfume sales? Online dating you say? Funny you should mention that because that’s exactly what all of my single unemployed friends and I did, for better or for worse. Let’s just say that after sharing some of our collaborative stories I can honestly say that very little shocks me.
It was right about that time that a promo for The Office came on smack in the middle of the nightly news featuring record unemployment. I found myself wondering how many people just like me were watching a show about people at work and about to have their cable shut off? Where was our story?
After ten months of an empty Inbox and hearing nothing but crickets chirping in mockery, I was thrilled to land a great job even if it was a 110 mile of round trip commute. Who was I to be picky? Holly had four new cavities and I hadn’t paid the COBRA bill (gulp). So as much as I hated to do it, I rejoined corporate America. Farewell, FUnEMPLOYMENT…and thanks for the “Do Over”. Let’s catch up later!