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My Laid-Off Life

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No. 2: Ross Tillman
Age: 24
Job: Recruiter at a head-hunting firm

I was let go over the phone. “You’re a luxury I can’t have,” my boss said.

A year ago, before I started my part-time graduate program at NYU, I had no loans or debt. Now I owe an outrageous amount. This is all a shot of reality, and I have to swallow my pride.

I applied to be a driver for someone. I wrote a long and groveling e-mail to a connection in Stamford, begging to get another interview for that Westport hedge fund that I blew off in the spring. My parents’ house in Westchester is a lot closer to Westport, but my girlfriend would kill me if I even mention sleeping at my folks’ house. I’m looking at blue-collar manufacturing jobs. What’s a TIG welder, anyway? I applied for a fish-delivery-driver position at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

My girlfriend goes to job one and job two every day; if only I had so much to pack into a day. I’ll contemplate shaving and getting dressed to go scope out a host position at a bistro, but then I’ll really like that I still have my plaid boxers on and I’ll tell myself I could always go tomorrow. I made sure that my dad deposited my car-lease money in my checking account—I think he is going to have to deposit rent money also. Using up your dad’s family-plan minutes sucks. Am I really 24 and still on the family plan? It’s embarrassing.

I’m too lazy to go to the gym, so I’ll take my Les Paul out of its case and stand in front of the mirror playing a John Mayer song. I’ve spent the past two weeks drinking and listening to music. And I spent my severance at a bar. I need to get good at that guitar so I can play at bars.

I wrote my dad a ranting e-mail filled with complaints about the current job market, and he called me and told me I’m nuts. This coming from a man who had steady work through every dip and recession of the last four decades, without really trying.

I think that my generation won’t have a crutch to lean on. When we’re 65, we’re not going to have pensions or 401(k)s. I passed the Triborough Bridge the other day—I heard they’re paying $4 million to change the signs to read RFK BRIDGE. How can they spend like that? Everything is falling apart, and they spend millions on signs? It’s bullshit! I think it’s everyone for themselves right now. I’m in survival mode.


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