Category Archives: unemployment

I No Longer Have Everyday Off

The reason I haven’t written anything in this blog since May 5th is pretty simple and fairly obvious, I got a job. Around the time of my last entry is when my offer became official, making it impossible to write a blog about being unemployed without feeling like Balki Bartokomous in the episode of Perfect Strangers where he thinks he’s going to be a pop star but pulls the plug on his own career after realizing that they’ve dubbed out his voice with that of a much better singer, bringing him to an ethical crisis, an impasse of meaning, a…you get it, I’m obviously just trying to sound smart because this is the last entry in this blog until I become unemployed again and as such, I want the takeaway to be “Boy, he’s smart.” Because I worry about such things. Because I’m worried that I’m dumber than when I was born. Because I’m worried just getting older makes me dumber. Because I’m worried the endless digital distractions make it harder to concentrate than it used to be. Because I’m worried that the internet is changing the way I think, that it’s somehow fucking it up. Because I’m worried my thoughts will come slower some day even though I’ve tried hard to slow them down and shouldn’t be worried. Because I’m worried I’ll stop being funny. Because I’m worried I was never funny in the first place. Because I’m worried about writing about worrying, and who this might worry. Because I’m worried about what you think. Because…wait a second, why am I ending this on some weird serious note? This isn’t a serious blog. Let’s just pretend I never said any of the stuff I just said and instead end with this a high-five.

There, I feel better already.

Jeff’s 5-Step Business Plan

The Things I’ve Accomplished While Unemployed

Meta!

What would any blog chronicling a persons time unemployed be without a list of accomplishments made during the time a person has had a blog chronicling their experience? That said, here is a list of all the amazing things I’ve accomplished during my first six months of unemployment.

  1. I have sporadically written on a variety of subjects that a small subsection of the people that know me are interested in reading about – While it may be tempting for another person to keep a blog about being unemployed actually about that experience and not allow it to drift into the nether-realms of Store Name Reviews and Pitbull/Martin Luther King Analogies, I have resisted temptation and stayed true to my lack of form.
  2. I have shamelessly self-promoted – For a long time I imagined myself as the kind of person who would never litter their facebook and twitter with links to their own blog entries, I saw myself as above or beyond that sort of masturbatory exercise, but then I transcended my own transcendence and, like the Dalai Lama before me, assaulted everyone I know with mildly entertaining thoughts to support my own sense of self-importance.
  3. I have fallen back in love – Not with a person or writing or life or any of that crap. With video games. In hindsight, I can’t imagine why I ever left them. Sure I thought I’d outgrown them, needed to move on, learn about me before I could be with anybody, but I was all wrong. There’s really not that much to me, and all the time I’ve spent without them was a huge mistake. If I’ve learned anything it’s that time not wasted is sometimes wasted time.
  4. I’ve got to know the people at the grocery store – This was a goal, going into unemployment, to become one of those happy people that knows all the checkout folks. And I have. Sure I’ve had to crack forced jokes about hating the environment every time I forget my reusable bag and make up excuses to go every day, but being vaguely recognized by strangers is totally worth the crippling expenditure of daily organic fruit purchases.
  5. I went to the Super Bowl – Okay, well I didn’t go to the game. I went to where it was and drank and partied and generally cavorted for 10 magical days with my friend Matthew. I also got two separate e-mails asking if I was gay from friends who were following the trip because of the number of references to and pictures of my friend Matthew. As a straight man with really no sense of style, taste or culture, this was a huge accomplishment.
  6. I finished my second novel – Unlike my first novel, I actually think this one is fun to read. I haven’t found a publisher or agent yet, but who cares if anyone reads something you poured so much of your life into? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right? Right…?
  7. I’ve accepted the reality of Jeff – I am kind of short, I’m not particularly cool, I enjoy compliments too much, I eat the same amount as a small Fijian family, I overanalyze things and simultaneously underanalyze them, I overcomplicate things and simultaneously undercomplicate them, I often define to edges of something only to show the middle, I don’t sleep enough, I spend too much time with books, I don’t worry enough about things, I often create criticisms of myself that are actually compliments, I do too much for charity and I place way to much emphasis on the grand uncertainty of the universe, and after the last six months, for the first time, I think I’m okay with all that.

What do I hope to accomplish in the next six months? I’d like to get okay with not out-accomplishing myself for one. Other than that, I guess I’ll figure it out as I go.

A Basic Guide to Phone Interviews

I recently had a phone interview for a job somewhere. I know that sounds incredibly mysterious, but I’m an incredibly mysterious person. Mystery is how I maintain my mystique. All in all, I’m pretty sure the call went well, but how does a person know? There are hundreds of articles on the web about preparing for an in-person interview, but virtually none that address the issue of the phone interview. That’s why I’ve put together a list of questions not to ask during a phone interview, a list that if used as a guide will avoid uncomfortable silences, awkward laughter or sudden hang-uppage.

  1. “What are you wearing?” – If the interviewer is the same sex this might pass for a harmless inquiry. If they aren’t, it will most likely lead to a lengthy and boring discussion about their clothing since they’ll assume you know very little about the intricacies of what the opposite sex wears.
  2. “Can I get paid under the table?” – Nothing good happens when people try and exchange things under tables. In many cultures if you touch your bosses knee with your hand, even if accidentally, you owe them a healthy baby, which can obvious delay your start date significantly.
  3. “Can I take my vacation before I start?” – Although it seems like a logical question, and should show you are a person of initiative that wants to show up fresh and ready to work…actually this is a good idea. You should do this.
  4. “What’s your policy on employees instituting new policies?” – If you’re like me, you probably have lots of ideas, some of which might even be related to best practices and other jargony things. This isn’t really a bad question either. Okay, maybe I should just write questions you should ask.

Here’s my list of questions you should ask during a phone interview:

  1. “Do you like questions?” – This is the perfect interview question. If they say no, stop asking. If they say yes, ask them “when”?
  2. “When do I start?” – It might sound like an a-hole thing to ask during a phone interview, but if they react poorly just complete the sentence with something unrelated to the job like, “When do I start…learning all about your company?Right now! Am I right? “
  3. “What’s your drug policy?” – It’s important to know what any prospective employer thinks about over-the-counter drugs. Nothing is more offensive to a holistic healer than the freewheeling consumption of aspirin, and statistics show that some percentage of Fortune 500 companies are run by people practicing homeopathic medicine.
  4. “How Casual Are Your Casual Fridays?” – Casual is a very broad term. You don’t want to show up wearing pants when no one else is wearing pants, you’ll feel like some kind of prude.
  5. “What do you think, idiot?” – This is a good litmus test for a possible employers and can be asked in response to any question they ask you. There’s nothing worse then ending up working at a place where you can’t balance your compliments about family pictures with insults about anything.

I think that just about covers it. If you don’t ask the first half and ask the second you should be well on your way to an in person interview.

Seven Possible Future Careers

Now that I’ve been unemployed for a few months and I’m getting to know all the dog park regulars even though I have no dog and the Whole Foods check-out people even though I tend to just wander the grocery store aimlessly and buy nothing, I’m starting to consider looking for a job again. Here are the first seven ideas I’ve come up with.

Robber Baron – According to my 9th grade history class these guys had mustaches and made a ton of money. I have a mustache and would love to make a ton of money, plus I haven’t heard of anyone being called a “Robber Baron” since the late 1890’s, which means there’s an obvious void.

Cheesemonger – I’m afraid of pelicans so fishmonger is out, warmonger is available in sub-Saharan Africa but I like the seasons and I’d be a cheeseburger monger or ‘cheeseburglar’* but I’m not 100% Swiss which is one of the Cheeseburglar’s requirements for would-be apprentices.

B-Movie Star – Being a huge movie star would suck. You couldn’t go anywhere, you’d always wonder if people liked the ‘real’ you and you’d no longer enjoy simple things because they are stupid. Being a B-Movie Star, on the other hand, would rock. You’d get to be in movies and use all that kick-ass industry in-speak that makes people sound smart and not-annoying, plus you’d be recognized by just enough weirdoes to improve your self-esteem.

Zip-Line Instructor – I picked this because I’ve had dreams about zip-lines since I was a kid. I’ve actually thought about that a lot, like why I have zip-line dreams when other people have flying dreams? Does it mean I’m more free because I’m outside the atypical mold of dream-flight or does it mean I’m less free because I’m tethered to an impossibly long cord? Oh life.

Pirate – I used the word ‘swashbuckle’ in my linkedin profile for some reason and ever since I’ve been thinking about being a pirate. I wouldn’t want to be the Captain because of all the pressures and mutinies and such, but if you fade into the background and just drink rum and hang with monkeys it’s a pretty good gig. Kinda like communism**

Sit-Down Comedian – Get it? Instead of “Stand-Up” I would sit-down and tell jokes. All my jokes would be like this joke, too. It would be great.

30 Rock Writer – This is actually my dream job, to write for the show 30 Rock, but like all dreams I’m sure it would end with a flag-football game against a bunch of zombies where no one wins and our side, the human prisoners, are forced to create an elaborate plan during a huddle that involves a treacherous escape via zip-line.

*I kept trying to change the ‘a’ to an ‘e’ because I couldn’t figure out what part of this word spellchecker thought was wrong.
**I don’t know anything about communism, I just think it’s a funny word.