This may seem counterintuitive, but employed people update their blogs regularly. All those people who are doing those 365 (pictures, recipes, stories, you name it) yeah, they have jobs. People on jobs tend to be very scheduled and put aside a certain time of the day or week to update their blogs. They may even have a reminder linked to their Outlook Calendar or on their iPhone to remind them that it is time to create the next blog post.
The underemployed, however tend to have more irregular schedules and therefore it can be difficult to regularly do… well anything. Irregularity, however, not a problem. We usually don’t have calendars or smartphones to keep us organized, but that’s OK, we don’t need it.
Stealing office supplies is something that employed people do. I know, “steal” seems like a harsh word and there are so many of them that companies truly do not notice that they are missing so “take” would probably be more appropriate. But people with jobs have a never-ending supply of pens, notebooks, paperclips, envelopes, staple removers, folders, and other office supplies at their disposal. Buying these items in a drug store is a foreign concept to them.
Those without jobs try to do without these everyday items as much as possible. We also “accidentally” forget to return the bartender’s pen or help ourselves to two or three of the promotional pens at festivals. If we find ourselves in a hotel room, we take all three pens and both message pads. Reusing shipping envelopes is nothing to be ashamed of. Do you know what they charge for those pieces of paper? No? Ah, you probably have a job…
People with jobs go to the gym during peak times. There is the morning rush from 7 AM to 9:30 AM and the evening rush from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. These are the only periods when there is ever a wait for machines (and typically just the elliptical trainer, possibly only employed people actually use the elliptical trainer?). Classes during these periods may have a waitlist or require advance registration (and gyms are now charging a nominal fee which does not phase people with jobs).
Any other time of the day, the gym is wide open for use. And people without jobs tend to sleep in past the morning rush hour anyway. We are also less likely to have a gym membership. This is especially true of expensive things with things like massage therapists and hair dryers in them.
People with jobs remember what day of the week it is. Monday is hell. Tuesday is nearly as bad. Wednesday is hump day. Thursday is the day before Friday. Friday kicks off the weekend. Saturday is the best day of the week. Sunday means it is nearly Monday again. Aside from the cycle, the days of the week are often characterized by meetings, lunch dates, happy hours, and due dates. Employed people typically remember the date as well. And they usually keep meticulously updated calendars to make sure they do not forget anything important each day.
For the underemployed, it really doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. We often know Friday and Saturday because our employed friends actually make an appearance. Other than that, who cares? If we are telling stories, we’ll throw in a day as a point of reference, “Tuesday, when I was riding around the river I saw…”. Really though, we have no idea if that actually happened on Tuesday and honestly, it doesn’t matter if it did or not. Ignorance is bliss, no?
Taking a taxi is something that employed people do. The rationale for taking a taxi varies from situation to situation. It can be too hot, too cold, the person is too tired, the destination is too far to walk, public transportation is too slow or too dirty. For those with jobs, the taxi is a convenient and affordable mode of transportation. It is also a great alternative to driving when alcohol is involved.
For the unemployed however, taking a taxi is typically not a consideration. A taxi, for even a short distance, will cost a minimum of a meal and some drinks. Why would we ever consider such a trade off? Those without jobs walk, bike, take the bus, or drive. When none of these options is sufficient, we may bum a ride or take a taxi with an employed friend who speaks the coveted phrase “I’ll pay for the cab”.
Employed people do not bother to look at the price of things that they buy before they buy them. When employed people buy things like greeting cards, they read the card, find the one they want and buy it. The price of the card is not a factor in the decision making process. In fact, employed people may not even realize that there is a price spectrum when it comes to things like greeting cards (or books, or magazines). They just bring it up, have it rung up, and pay whatever is displayed on the cash register. Since employed people usually pay with credit or debit cards, they may never even know what they paid for the item.
Those without jobs, on the other hand, know exactly how much they pay for things. Unemployed people know about the budget 99 cent cards that often do just as well as the fancy cards for $3. The cards may be slightly less witty, or made from more generic paper, but hey, a card is a card and a dollar or two saved can easily be put toward something even more vital. Like food.
Regular car maintenance is something that employed people do. They make sure to have their oil changed every 3,000 miles or 5 months. They have their tires rotated on a somewhat regular basis. They get their fluids topped off and check their tire pressure. When the “check engine”light comes on, they immediately go to their mechanic (and yes, the employed have a trusted mechanic) For people with jobs, making sure their cars are in tip top shape is a normal part of life.
For the underemployed, car maintenance is a very scary concept. To us, car maintenance means that something has gone very wrong with our vehicle. Little things, such as strange noises, lights, and lack of certain fluids, can be ignored. Things that cannot be ignored usually result in the lack of function of the vehicle. Once this situation occurs frantic phone calls to friends searching for “someone who can fix cars cheaply” are the next step. A “real” mechanic is the absolute last resort. Luckily people without jobs tend to drive super reliable cars that never, ever break down. Like Toyotas- really old Toyotas. Have they been recalled yet? Unemployed people don’t check for that sort of thing.
People with jobs shop at Whole Foods. And they love it. They talk about it all the time.
“When I was in Whole Foods I ran into…”
“I need to run to Whole Foods tonight to pick up some…”
To people with jobs, shopping at Whole Foods is as normal as breathing. The fact that the prices are inflated by 50-200% over the “normal” grocery stores is countered by the idea of shopping at a large, chain grocery store that stands for organic, sustainable and local. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
For those without gainful employment, however, the local Albertsons, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Winn Dixie, Pubix (I think you get the point) has to do the job. We carry our little club cards and look for the specials that save $.20 or buy the generic alternative to Heinz ketchup. We buy frozen instead of fresh produce and often go looking for goods we can buy in bulk. We also tend to only go to the grocery store once a week or so unless an emergency arises. Instead of dashing out for the saffron we forgot, we think in terms of multi-tasking spices.
Getting a professional haircut is a thing that employed people do. Those of us without a regular income have a few options in lieu of paying a person who works in a salon or barber shop to cut our hair. They are:
1) Pretend we don’t really need a haircut. No one is actually going to notice our split ends or the hair creeping down to the collar lines- or so we tell ourselves. And that money could be put to much better use, like rent or beer or food.
2) Get a friend to cut the hair for us (or do it on our own). Costs nothing or next to and if it comes out in zig zag formation we can always say “It’s fashion man”.