Certain experiences will always force a reevaluation of life’s priorities. The birth of a child, a near-death experience — or getting fired. The latest episode of Salon’s video series on unemployment in America begins with Theresa Iacovo, a laid-off truck dispatcher, reminiscing on all of the Christmases she missed during her 20-year career. “Why did I give up that time with my family that I can never give back?” she asks.
Several recent submissions to Open Salon on the topic of unemployment also question the relationship between personal fulfillment and work. Homeless Scribe aptly sums up the source of much frustration: “Fresh out of college, I expected job security in exchange for hard work. I expected fairness in exchange for loyalty. And I expected respect in exchange for respect. I lived up to my side of the bargain. It’s the other side that failed.”
While challenging the myth that unemployment equals a meaningless existence, Livia Gershon explains how the freedom of not having a job can come with more benefits than the meager compensation of, for example, a part-time shift at Wal-Mart. She writes, “An unemployed father might create a more stable home for a little while, so his wife doesn’t have to take a day off if a kid gets sick. He might also be able to watch a neighbor’s child after school, or help his parents fix their roof.”
The trick, of course, is finding balance. We would all love to chase our passions, but we can’t just ignore those pesky bills. The former employee of a Chicago law firm captures this conflict in his cathartic piece “My Unintended Vacation.” He writes, “Between temp jobs, I started spending a lot more time volunteering for a few nonprofits and found it much more rewarding than the old job — except for the money, of course.”