Funemployment: 5 Ways to Get Through the Day

WE’RE CURRENTLY IN THE DEPTHS OF AN ECONOMIC RECESSION, and so prevalent is its grip on our culture that greedy CEOs, evil bankers, and horrible bosses have replaced Eastern Europeans and Arabs as the go-to bad guys in Hollywood films. I hear that the remake of Red Dawn has changed the parachuting Russians to tax attorneys invading in sensible sedans.

Are you out of work? Do you spend your days in your pajamas scrolling Craigslist and yelling at your cats? Are you tired of being judged by your employed friends with their jobs, and their mortgages, and their paid bills? Joblessness getting you down? The Smoking Jacket is here to provide you with fulfilling ways to spend your days while simultaneously creating the illusion that you’re still contributing to society. Funemployment makes you look both industrious and interesting enough to not work.

1. Become an Artist
Don’t worry. You’re not actually going to make anything. Being an actual artist is a fate worse than unemployment. Choose anything, it doesn’t matter what. You can be a painter, sculptor, writer, dancer, experimental filmmaker, jazz musician, or poet. Or maybe not a poet. Now that you’ve chosen your discipline, you no longer have to sheepishly reply: “I’m between jobs,” when people ask you what you do. Hell no! You’re an artist. From now on, you claim to be writing grants, working on a project, talking to agents. You’ve managed to become more important and less slovenly while explaining your eccentric mood swings, and of course all the cats. Plus, if you say you’re an artist for long enough, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually get a tenured professorship at some Liberal Arts college. And the great unspoken advantage being an artist is that you don’t actually have to produce any work. Ever. Just ask my thesis advisor.

2. Drink
Weeks are long, daytime TV sucks, and drinking is fun. Never has the saying ‘it’s five o’clock somewhere’ been so apropos. Replace that cream in your coffee with Bailey’s. Skip those Pizza Pops for lunch, and have a Jack and Coke instead. Don’t fall into the trap of drinking alone. Bars are filled with colorful characters at all hours of the day, and with your newfound artist persona, you can write off your midday bar visits as ‘research.’ And who knows where you’ll wake up, maybe with a job! Stranger things have happened. Once, in the midst of a long drunk spell, after being laid off from a frozen pizza and radial tire plant in Des Moines, Iowa, I woke up with a nice little daytime manager gig at a Denny’s.

3. Tweet
Are you on Facebook? Do you tweet? Tumbl? No? Why the hell not? This is where you show the world that you’re trying to find gainful employment, even if you haven’t left your house in three days, and you’ve replaced the cream in your coffee with Bailey’s and coffee  in your coffee with scotch. Plus, it’s not time-wasting, not when your unemployed. It’s called networking. Update your Facebook status with faux tales from the weary job applicant like: “Finding a job is the hardest job you’ll ever have.” Or: “Man, I feel like I’m close. Good things come in threes! Wish me luck!” Tweet links to other job listings claiming: “This one’s not for me, but someone should apply!” Tumbl pictures of your cats. Lots of cats. At least one post a day on all social media sites should involve cats. And your cats should have people names like Esther, or Matt, or Dylan. People will believe that by owning cats, you are a compelling and productive human being because you respect the species enough not to belittle your felines by calling them Fuzzy, or Patches, or Asshole. Use exclamation marks on your social media updates. They tell (exclaim!) to everyone that things are going great!!!

4. Nap
Listen, you’ve had six cocktails and it’s not even noon, your cats have tired of the attention, and your Internet connection is down, probably because you can’t afford to pay it. So what do you do? You nap. Napping is the new sleeping. Get yourself some blackout curtains or duct tape garbage bags over your windows. Feel free to use your bed, but the couch is better. If a buddy catches wind of your six-hour naps and suggests the sleeping’s a sign of depression, unfriend the guy. That guy’s an asshole with a job.

5. Stop Wearing Pants
Listen, pants are a sign of success. And if you’re sober and wearing pants at four in the afternoon, you’re just showing off. An added bonus is that without pants, there’s no pants to get covered in cat hair, and trust me, at this point in your funemployment, cat hair will be a problem. And you’re automatically the most interesting person drinking at the bar in the middle of the day when you’re pantsless.

Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011). He lives in Toronto.

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
Ask TSJ: How Long Should I Put Up with My Unemployed Girlfriend?
The Writer’s Guide to Staying Single