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My Laid-Off Life


No. 4: Michael Roston
Age: 31
Job: Online editor, the New York

If I could just get back into an office, any office, I wouldn’t be worrying about my daily existence. I also probably wouldn’t be downing shots of whiskey on Wednesday nights. I rouse myself from severance-inflicted post-drunk slumber and head out into the world. I regret feeling so sick and failing to get anything done; but what have I failed to get done? It’s these nihilistic thoughts I’m getting tired of.

A job I had applied for disappeared off a job-listing site. I was bummed. I didn’t even get an interview. I’m trying to get myself into the right people’s in-boxes, but I don’t want to be a wretch who reeks of desperation.

My former co-worker and I applied for the same job. He got called in for an interview, and I did not. I keep reminding myself that I’m on my own path and I’ve got to find my own way to the right thing for me. I’m my only competitor, right? I recently clicked on the second Website in a row that I’ve seen encouraging people to watch the film adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath. If I see someone reading it on the subway, I’ll be pretty sure we’ve officially entered Phil Gramm’s “mental recession.”

My family likes to joke about “my vacation.” “How’s the vacation going?” Not really funny. I fell asleep for 30 minutes the other day and wished it could be like some Rip van Winkle thing, except instead of waking up 30 years later, I’d wake up and have a new job. Walking past the day laborers hanging out near the paint store on Broadway, I’m thankful that I hunt for work while gazing into a computer screen rather than through the rolled-down window of some shady contractor’s car.

Perry Farrell in that great poem asked, “What is going to bring me around?” Me, I admit it: Cycling through various Websites, I feel like I’m waiting for a sign. I can’t bear to turn on the TV or listen to music. All I see is the sun from my window, and I think that I should get out in the park, like a friend had suggested; I had joked, “Yeah, I should get to know the place better where I’ll soon be living.”


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