Friday, February 20, 2009

A Letter to My Former Employer Concerning My Unemployment

This one probably won't come across too funny or very angry. But, it hopefully won't come across too serious either. I just wanted to talk through some stuff and get it out there where I could see it. More of a casual, introspective observation that I wanted to share.

It surprised me to no end that I wrote this letter, concerning this subject, to this person, and wasn't igniting with pure rage the entire time. Maybe I'm starting to deal with things a little better. Or maybe I've already killed three people and buried them in my sleep.

Dear former boss,

I have to admit that hearing the words “we have to let you go” come out of your mouth almost sounded comical at first. They were so confident and decisive. It sounded like you were concisely expressing a decision you had made, you know like a big boy, so obviously, I was skeptical. But then I remembered that it was the day before Valentine’s Day, and knowing you and the depths of your compassion, that’s what really drove it home for me that you were serious. So I set my bag down in my chair and had a two minute conversation with you which consisted of me truthfully telling you that I absolutely hated working here anyway. You asked me if I would like to bow out gracefully and “resign” and I reminded you that prideful “resigned” employees don’t collect unemployment. You flustered a little, I picked up my bag, and I left.

Chiggie Von Richthofen. Hired 2005. Fired 2009. He leaves behind two bowls and a coffee cup.

Shit! My coffee cup! That’s on the to-do list to get back. I love that cup. Completely forgot about that damn thing.

I’ll just briefly skim over what happened next. My wife’s tearful face, my mother-in-law’s vengeful attitude towards you, my own mother’s reassuring shrug (not a jab at her, I actually to like it when she shrugs off problems; it gives perspective). I’ll also leave out the bit where I spent most of that afternoon cleaning my kitchen and dancing with myself to Harry Belafonte in a subconscious attempt to recreate multiple scenes from the movie Beetlejuice .

Rock your body, child.

But the giddiness wore off and the reality and responsibility set in. And so began the searching and the waiting.

Something else as well. Something unexpected. Suddenly being put into a situation where I have to make decisions about how I will make a living really reveals just how NOT an option my current outlets of artistic expression are for that role. If I were to choose how to spend an eight hour day, it would be creative philosophical and entertainment works. Expression, hands down. Winnah and still Champeen. But, as an employment option expression ranks right above “hobo who can’t afford pen and paper.”

So I have to go into the job placement agency and tell them all about how I can use Excel, and how I can answer a telephone, and in a desperate attempt to mix it up, I then tell them I don’t mind doing physical labor. I mean, I can take boxes off of shelves, I can put boxes ONTO shelves. I’ve really got it all. But, of course, this almost guarantees that I’ll get a job just like my last one, which was pretty much like the one before it, because that’s what the skill sets on my resume fit.

And I know there will be some that roll out the “follow your dream speech” which at this point, in this economy, is like telling a seven year old that they can fly if they jump off the roof. And they want it enough. You gotta WANT IT kid! Do you WANT it? You want it?! Then go, kid, go! Fly! Fly boy!

Woops. Aw.

He didn’t want it.

It’s not that I don’t think that writing is a valid vocation. I’d love to create for a living. But, the fact is that right now it’s not a stable enough option to fully commit to. Our situation requires guaranteed stability, and right now I just don’t think I’m consistent enough, or proficient enough, or comfortable enough to make it work. Frankly, I’m just not good enough at this, all of this, to succeed at it. And I have to face the reality that I may never be good enough. The only thing losing one job only to immediately start looking for that same job does is shine a great big spotlight on how NOT ready I am to do what I really want to do with my life. And for making me realize that, I won’t lie, I do hate you.

But it hasn’t been all bad. I do have a little bit of severance so I have let myself relax a little while I spend the majority of my days at home. Of course, I don’t want to feel like a complete waste of space after I drop my still employed wife off at her work every day so I have found a new passion for house chores.

That’s not a joke. I’m just as surprised as anyone. I really, genuinely love being a housewife. It’s amazing. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming, the sweeping, the cooking, the shopping. My world has been transformed into a giant Zen garden for me to rake all day. The chores have given me an everyday routine that has real palpable, positive results. I love putting on some music and getting my arms in some soapy water or filling empty hangars with clean folded clothes. Getting fired has turned my house into my own personal Andy Durfresne library.

Huh, you know after the last four years feeling like I’ve been swimming down a pipe full of shit, it’s not until I get canned that I make a Shawshank reference. Weird.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that this week, again, the first week of my unemployment (allow me to add an aside that this is the first time in my entire life I’ve ever BEEN unemployed since I was 17), I’ve noticed that this week has felt longer than any week I can remember in my recent years. And not in a “when will this week ever end, Lord??” kind of way. It just seems that when the day is filled with a combination of importance and genuine interest, I’m not as apt to consciously break down my own sense of time. There’s no zoning out or clock games or activities solely based around distraction. No plea that daylight has come and how, because of that daylight, me “wan” go home. There’s just the normal passage of time and what I feel like using it for. A true internal clock that I’m sure will be immediately destroyed my first day of whatever new job I’ll get.

It makes me sad. A week devoid of purposely wasting my time is something I’m really going to miss.

So, as you can see, first week past me and there have been ups and downs. I’ve had about as much depression as I’ve had elation, but, so far I’m staying positive. Mostly because I can’t imagine a reason not to.

Yeah, I’ll probably end up at another desk with another phone and another set of problems, but, that’s life. Big dreams aren’t enough to risk my wife’s future, and I’m ok with being the kind of person that would make that decision.

And as far as the writing career, I’ll just have to stick to plan B. Write into my will that I am to be buried in the deepest and most remote place I can find with a selection of my notes and manuscripts hermetically sealed in with me. That way, after the “Great Human War” results in the destruction of all art and literature, future archeologists will find me and my collection intact sparking another renaissance. They will call it a “Chiggiesance.” Or, no, that’s weird. Maybe a “Von Richthenstance.”

Or maybe future scribes will be able to name their own age of reason without making it sound like a dessert at the Waffle House.

Of course now that I’ve written that into the letter that pretty much disqualifies this letter from being part of the collection. I can’t let the future know I planned this. It will make me look like a douche.

Chiggie Von Richthofen
I drink gin, Monkey drink gin too