Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How To Make It (Unemployed) In America

A quick plug before we begin -- if you haven't voted on day 2 of the invention bracket, click here. We've decided to stretch it out a little bit so as to avoid bracket overload -- we're taking a day off from it today, but we'll post round one results tonight and have voting on all second round matchups tomorrow. As Sam so eloquently put it: by voting, you are validating our existence, so thanks. And now, on to the topic du jour.

Almost every day (of the past week), I have found myself in a conversation like this:

Person I am speaking to: So, what do you do for a living?
Me: I blog.
Person I am speaking to: You blog? Well, surely you do more than that.
Me: Well yea, I am studying for the LSAT as well and am even tutoring a couple people for the LSAT while I study. But really, my main focus is blogging.
Person I am speaking to: OK, so what’s a typical day like?

I never would have thought being unemployed would be such an enigma to people. I have worked for an embattled governor and the Worldwide Leader in Sports -- both unquestionably interesting places to work -- and people are WAY more fascinated by my current unemployment stint than they were by my paycheck-earning days. 

Well, I’m going to try to satiate your curiosity by explaining the formula for jobless living -- and it’s actually quite simple. It stems from what I will dub: The Bifurcation Belief

Allow me to explain…

Bifurcate: to divide into two branches or parts.

You, the working man, wake up on a Wednesday morning and have a purpose. You’re off to work. I, the non-working man, wake up on a Wednesday morning and have a purpose as well. The difference between you and me is that your purpose is constructed by your boss whereas mine is constructed by either me or my mom (who essentially serves as my boss).

Stay with me...

Essentially, what carries you, the working man, through the day is the understanding that you are fulfilling tasks of some sort, and even if you are not, that you are going to make money. I, the non-working man, cannot be swayed by the power of the dollar, but I do have tasks that serve to motivate me on a daily basis.

Here’s the payoff…

The tasks that I, the non-working man, strive to achieve become the focal part of my day. In fact, they bifurcate the day so that I don’t think of the day as one 24-hour whole but rather two equal parts (before and after the given task). For example, this afternoon I am going to the tailor to pick up my mom’s blouse. My visit to the tailor bifurcates the day so that I have two four or five hour chunks on the ends of the visit to either tutor, study, read a book, read the newspaper, watch TV, blog, eat, play basketball, take my dog out for a walk, listen to music, have a rest, rearrange my sock drawer, watch youtube videos like this, go on gchat, play video games, think of what the best invention was of all-time, consider where the universe ends and what is beyond that, and maybe send out a job application or two. The Bifurcation Belief splits up the day so that you can compartmentalize your time.

I know this is pretty complicated stuff so I've posed and answered some questions you may have.

What things qualify as tasks? Pretty much anything. Errands, lunches with friends, long walks… I draw the line at anything that takes place between the hours of 12 PM and 3 PM and requires me to leave the apartment (although I can get by quite well some days without leaving the apartment too).

Aren't there other unemployment theories that would render the Bifurcation Belief useless? I'm sure there are but I don't know them.

Wait, isn't this just a way of rationalizing the time you spend procrastinating so that you don't feel guilty or worthless? No.

So I hope you now have a better idea on how 9.7% of us live. And if you happen to fall on hard times or just want to wade in the unemployment waters for a bit, remember the Bifurcation Belief. It will give your life meaning and even the unemployed deserve that.


  1. Except most of the 9.7% of you are smart enough to get unemployment benefits

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  3. You fail to include that you are almost always unwilling to complete a task that involves leaving the east side. God forbid lunch stretches outside your 12-3 window of opportunity because you're traveling to the west 60s.

  4. Thanks linking the World Wide Leader in Sports. I would not have otherwise made the ESPN connection.