Things I've learned after being laid off for three weeks
1. My coworkers like me almost as much as I like them.
If anything good comes out of the immediate effects of a layoff, it's people coming up to you to give you hugs and say you'll be missed. It definitely makes you feel less shoved into a fridge.
2. Being home in time for "Monday Night Football" is overrated.
Seriously, I didn't even watch the Patriots vs. the Chiefs this week. What was the point?
"Thursday Night Football," on the other hand, has been a delight, even though you might as well wait until the fourth quarter to watch any game involving Denver anymore.
3. Craigslist is a TRIP.
Never visited the site until two days before I was laid off. Clearly some ads you have to read with your skepticism visor on -- never knew Stanislaus County was such a hotbed for modeling opportunities, although I can sort of believe San Joaquin County is a big pond for potential third-tier reality show contestants. Some days, the most interesting jobs are on Craigslist. Others, it seems like nothing but requests to harvest your ova.
4. The job search world is so much different from 20 years ago.
The last time I was unemployed, you had to stand in line at the EDD, stand in line on site, have paper copies of your resume and list at least three places per week that you contacted about job opportunities on your unemployment claim form. Today, you apply everywhere online, your resume is a PDF and the EDD takes your word for it that you're looking if you check the box that says so. (I'm guessing that last bit is more to avoid the manpower involved in checking all those visit claims.)
Even resumes are different. They've gone from itemized lists of your skills to mission statements written in diagrammable sentences. References used to be mandatory; now they're barely sought. I only filled out two applications that asked for anyone other than the HR department.
I have not yet received my first EDD check, but I'm told it could come as a debit card and may or may not be cashable only at a Bank of America ATM.
5. I finally know the street address of where I used to work.
Filled it out on enough applications under "Last Place of Employment."
6. My friends like me almost as much as I like them. OK, as much.
The traditional hallmarks of friendship that are seen to come with the territory -- frequent contact, lunches and stayovers -- have not been so frequent in my life, so having lunch with my college roommate or spending the night at my best friend's is still an awe-inspiring treat. They actually ARE there for me, and I love them for it.
The younger ones who have bounced around from job to job give me pointers on the market. Older ones suggest fields I might consider. My best friend, who got me hooked on three doll lines, a cosmetic line and a bath product line, got me hooked on a fourth doll line. A slight threat to the austerity measures, but also a much-needed distraction.
7. I have a decent balance of work and play.
There's only so much you can do when job hunting and networking are done remotely, although I try to visit East Bay Works in Concord once a week for seminars/pep talk (nothing like it in Stockton). At the same time, inactivity hasn't turned me into either June Cleaver on crack or a glaze-eyed Bejeweled marathoner.
One day I went out in the yard and pulled weeds just to make myself useful. This worked fine for about an hour or so in the front yard, but even with wet ground the back yard is better handled with a Rototiller. And that's my husband's department.
I'm on the social networks more, but that's almost always been as time-filler, at least when I'm not live-tweeting an NFL game. I check the job sites three times a day. I've indulged in my hobbies when the mood strikes. I caught up quickly on movies I'd saved on the DVR, although we still have plenty meant for both the husband and me. (Football season takes center stage during these months, which is why we gave up Netflix during an earlier attempt at austerity measures.)
I suppose my elderly dog likes that I'm home, if only because it means he gets an afternoon opportunity to visit the greenbelt, network at all the trees and chase an occasional cat.
8. Losing my job actually isn't the end of the world.
I'm a worker bee, and I still think of myself as socially gauche, so work was my identity. Being laid off was a shock, but perhaps the combination of multiple prior layoffs at work and a preparation visit from East Bay Works kept me from a sense of utter despair.
Severance pay does blunt the blow, even when your car finds out about it.
In any case, every adventure starts with the heroine unceremoniously dumped out of her comfort zone and learning she can survive, possibly even thrive. So that's how I'm treating this. An adventure! With breaks to play Bejeweled.