Unemployment: College Edition

Germs are taking over the world. Quite literally, the Coronavirus pandemic is shutting down multiple businesses in America in one clean sweep. 

There’s no longer any need for recreation or luxuries that have no beneficial value to the public. I would gracefully sacrifice recreation if I was on someone’s payroll. 

Not just anyone’s payroll, though. The people government officials call “essentials” are the main ones bringing home the bacon these days, especially if they got it off the shelves first and can still afford it. 

Just two short months ago, President Trump  promised “low unemployment rates and high wages.” 

Now, the world dictates who is essential enough to remain employed during an intolerable, worldwide germ infestation. 

Falling in Line 

I just want to survive.

Unfortunately, it is potentially hazardous to my health, specifically my respiratory system, to be in the company of more than ten other breathing human beings in closed quarters for long periods. 

Exactly what a job requires.

My time, my energy and the actual breath in my body are the new hiring qualifications to have steady income nowadays. 

It’s an uncanny risk to volunteer my life to serve other people’s food when they don’t want to stay home and cook or scan all the replenishing supplies for them to stay home more comfortably. 

Does that mean I have to reschedule my birthday like my sister did last month? I will turn twenty-five at the end of this year, a milestone that I may celebrate sheltered and sanitized indoors. 

To SAVE my life, I cannot celebrate it publicly. Ironic. 

All I know is that this is the longest I have been without a job since I started working. 

The Bridge to Big Business 

Approximately seven years ago, the year I graduated high school, I was already a working woman. Taking those extra classes over the summer before my senior year paved the way to my paycheck. 

I searched and found a job that was hiring near me, an empty double-decker warehouse that would transform into Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Westshore, Flor., mall.

I created my first resume, set up my interview and arrived early so I wouldn’t fall victim to that one famous quote: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”

I got the job. 

Ever since then, I never wanted to be without one. Exchanging services for money is no foreign concept, and I did not want to be exempt from that money flow and freedom. 

Yes, I had to contribute to the bills of my household. Yes, I paid my gas and phone bill, but the rest was all mine.

I always got what I wanted when I took care of business first

That working streak carried me to Mississippi, where I found my way around a hiring sign and application. However, my work capacity has dwindled to DIY projects and financial maintenance.

Reality Woke Me Up

Weeks have passed, seven weeks and two days to be exact, from the original tweet about what unemployment would look like from our president.

He responds differently now, attempting to convince the nation the U.S. will bounce back just as quickly as it was halted, “after a record number of Americans file for unemployment wages.”

I was almost in that bracket. I heard the words before they were said: “I think you should look into it.”

The government is trying to accommodate the failing economy around us. It is happening to everyone, in everyone’s household, and everyone is affected somehow. 

They extended our stay at home with supplement checks so we won’t be too far in the red. They provided incentives and lowered gas prices discounted fast food and sent coupons for consoles.

The truth is in the money. 

How much I have, how much I spend and how much I receive are all foreign figures to me now. I’ve adjusted fairly quickly considering that the solution  is nowhere in sight. 

A date when everything goes back to normal. A time I can set on my alarm to countdown the seconds to the end of the virus for good. It simply isn’t there yet. 

The reality of this “unemployment” mantra is that it woke me up. I saw the world the same way our previous president saw it, the underlying effects of unemployment taking its toll on “big business.”

Barack Obama once stated, ”What is a danger is that… people who have jobs see their income go up and businesses make big profits. But they’ve learned to do more with less, and so they don’t hire.” 

He had his problems in his time with unemployment rates in 2010, and he warned against the same calamities that befall us now.

Unemployed, I must learn to invest in myself, despite big business and the method they use to stay afloat. I can learn any craft, skill, or something new that will enhance my life as a whole. 

I don’t like to be stuck in one place for too long if I’m not building something where I stand. Work and wages are the kind of relationship I submit to and respect.

In the meantime, though, I intend to take my job as a girlfriend, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a student more seriously.

I have the time to distribute my energy without the burnout, and I have the funds to sit my ass still and wait it out like everyone else.

I also have hand sanitizer in my back pocket, just in case the world changes back to normal tomorrow and a boss offers me a job.