Blake Mooney was recently laid off from his job at NewMediaCompany.com and has somehow found some time to give a glimpse into the week in the life of a man on the dole. This is his story. Monday Tuesday
Wednesday: Everyone knows if you’re a male and you find yourself laid off from your job, the first thing you do is grow a beard. It’s a look that tells everyone around you, “I have no responsibilities and no boss or dress code, so why even fight with the whole personal hygiene thing.” You’re also supposed to walk around in slippers and a bathrobe most of the time, clutching a copy of the want ads in one hand and a cup of coffee spiked with Kahlua in the other. You definitely need to let your apartment get all cluttered up, so when your friends come over to visit, the stink hits them in the hallway and, concerned for your lack of direction, they give you a big pep talk that suddenly jolts you from your waking coma. You clean yourself up in the shower, print out a bunch of resumes, get a great new job and finally meet the girl of your dreams, all while Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best,” plays somewhere in the background.
Because I grew a beard about a year before losing my job and I have both an understanding roommate (who seems to slack vicariously through my laziness) and an incredibly patient and faithful girlfriend, I have not yet reached this stage.
Instead, the bulk of my typical day usually falls into one of three categories: Getting out of the house for some exercise, watching TV, or drinking booze. Often, I’ll mix and match these activities, but not necessarily in the obvious combinations. One of my favorite pastimes has become what I’ve affectionately dubbed the Booze Cruise: Pack plenty of water, pick up a bottle of Orange juice and a flask of vodka from the liquor store, and – on the weeks when I get my unemployment check – load up a bowl of chronic, then set out to enjoy the vast expanse of greenbelts that circle the metro area. While I have no desire to discover what the physiological effects of hammering down shots of vodka and hits of pot while riding my bike all the way from Capitol Hill to the Cherry Creek reservoir might have on my body, I do know that to my mind, it’s like a magical integration of my favorite childhood, adolescent and adult hobbies.
As far as daytime TV goes, I can report to those of you who still hold down day jobs that it remains as depressing as you remember from your last sick day. It’s not the shows themselves that are such downers – because The Price is Right, now starring a surprisingly tolerable Drew Carey, has got to be the single most ebullient piece of programming ever devised – but the commercials. “What are you doing on the couch,” an angry black man yells at me during one such break. “Get up and call Park’s College right now. Not later today, not tomorrow, right now.” Apparently, he’s supposed to be my surrogate Jiminy Cricket, peering deep into my lazy soul and badgering me around like a school counselor who won’t see another kid squander his potential. It’s working. “Why are you acting like it’s so hard? It’s easy.” He walks away in disgust. I am officially devastated.
Having worked in broadcasting, I rationalize that all this boob-tubery is somehow sharpening my professional acumen, like a chef going out to eat or a musician taking in a concert. And, to an extent, it probably is. After days upon days of ESPN marathons, I have become better than most at correctly prognosticating the outcome of NFL games, even reaching soothsayer status during the wacky Cowboys/Bills game that no one, outside of myself, saw coming. But it’s inert-tainment; at a time when I should be getting increasingly restless and hungry, TV just makes me more passive and comfortable.
And then there’s the whole alcohol thing. Going out for drinks after a hard day on the job is, to the members of my age demographic, as ubiquitous as iPod headphones. It’s a release from the stress of busting your ass for a boss you can barely stand at a job you probably don’t like.
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Yet when alcohol is released from the context of small reward for a job well done, it almost always falls into the category of sad crutch. Not that I’m stumbling drunk out onto East Colfax at 10 a.m. just yet. But where most people reach for an excuse to go out, I’m running out of reasons not to. The pressures that keep our indulgences in check for five nights out of the week – work and family commitments – have no bearing in my world. And the Rockies just went on one hell of a run.
Nevertheless, I’m no more of an alcoholic than your typical Frat Boy (whatever that’s worth), and when I take stock of my daily habits then compare them to my only points of reference – Hollywood stereotypes and one-third of the people along the 16th Street mall – I feel like I’m not doing too badly.
Plus, if I do ever hit rock bottom, I’m completely sold on the principle that recovery is only a cheesy '80s montage away. -- Blake Mooney