When I first got laid-off, lo those many month ago, I felt strange whenever I would venture out into the real world. I suddenly realized that nearly all of those people clogging the roadways during working hours were people just like me: the unemployed. Prior to my losing my job, I had oft wondered, “What do all of these people do for a living? Don’t they have jobs to get to?!” The answers, it turns out, are nothing and no.
Going to lunch was an uncomfortable experience. Though I was sure I was invisible to the gainfully employed, I still felt self-conscious… perhaps because I knew all of the unemployed were checking me out just as I did them. They were easy to spot: typically in shorts and exuding an air of non-hurried non-expectation. They were usually alone (as I was), reading (as I was), staring off into space (as I was), and slightly forlorn with a suppressed glee at having little to no responsibility.
When I went to lunch today, I couldn’t find my old comrades anywhere. Everyone in shorts were in business shorts with belts and pagers clipped to the side. All of those alone were concentrated on eating; and that in a hurry. No one was reading; lest it be their receipt, or their phone, or whatever small distraction there was to pull their eyes away from the food they were consuming at an alarming rate, and the back of the like-minded person in front of them. It occurred to me then, that the unemployed and drifted back into unreality again, that soon I would be wondering what all these people were doing out on the roads and not at their desks, that I was, for the time being) out of The Club.
I miss The Club. The benefits were a joke, but the pace was relaxing. I will try and slow down enough each day to try and see a few of the old comrades.