Monday, January 18, 2016

8,130/200 = 1 -- The New Math

So, today marks 200 days without a job. Let's play with numbers: that's 55% of a calendar year. Before that, I'd gone 8,130 consecutive days with a job. So, 200 seems a paltry number compared to over 8,000, right? A blip. Of course, if you're not careful, a blip can become a trend and soon a trend becomes a permanent reality.

More numbers: to hold a job for another 8,130 consecutive days, if I started today, I'd have to work until April 22, 2037 - when I'll be 68. And still about 20 years from being able to retire. But that's a post for another day.

Of course, I won't be starting a new job today, but you get the point. 8,130 days is a long time; 200 days is not. Yet, as each day passes, it feels like the two numbers are getting closer to being equal. That is, it's starting to feel like I've been out of work longer than I worked. I'm not there yet, of course. But another six months of this nonsense and I can really see coming to a point where it'll feel I've been out of work longer than I worked.

When I did some stand-up comedy in the late 1990s one of my jokes was: "Do you realize I'm only five inches shy of being a midget? Of course, I'm also only five inches shy of being a eunuch." This is sexist, but being a male, being without a job is not unlike being without a penis - although at least you can still urinate without a bag - for now - without the job. It is completely emasculating to be out of work. I've never, ever been the sole 'breadwinner' by any stretch. But, over the last eight years, the income discrepancy between The Wife and I was such that I was making a considerable percentage of our family income.  It was never anything I spoke of; never anything I consciously considered; but subconsciously I knew that I was the man of the house, providing for his family and doing the manly thing.

That is no longer the case. I'm no longer providing anything; I'm a consumer of revenue, not a producer. There's unemployment, sure, but that's short-term and is barely enough to cover my Vicodin-Rum-Coke smoothies.

A friend pointed out with sympathy-if-not-delicacy recently that this feeling of emasculation was perfectly understandable: "They took your dick away from you," sayeth the friend in speaking of the individuals who caused me to end my streak at 8,130 days. As big a pain in the ass as the job was; and as evil and conniving and just plain mean as others were, it still was a salary and a sense of pride and a sense of doing something important; of being somebody important; of having made something of myself. Sure, it wasn't the career I'd envisioned, but it was a career, it was on the surface successful and it had been on a steady upward trajectory for 22 years. We don't even realize how closely our identity is tied up into the job/career we hold until it is gone - both the identity and the job.

And a certain something that used to be between my legs.

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