It’s a good time to be laid off, people say to me. It’s sunny and hot — as if this was a vacation.
It might as well be winter out there — though I guess it’s just as well I’m not listening to the furnace drain away all my cash, that would be even more depressing than Ottawa’s usual slate-grey winter skies. (For those who don’t live here, sunny skies in winter may lift your spirits, but they also mean it’s too damn cold to go outside. Grey is livable temperatures and at the same time the enemy of happiness. You choose.)
If I were in any way capable of treating this as “time off” this would indeed be a great time to be off because we’ve had pretty fabulous weather since the middle of May. Warm, sunny — and right now a heat wave, begging me to find the nearest beach, plunk myself in the water and say “Aaaaaahhhhh.”
Instead, in a little while I’ll head for the bus, spending an hour in transit to a seminar on applying for jobs in the public sector. And then an hour back home during rush hour in temperatures that without the humidex are expected to be around 34 C.
Not a day at the beach. But then no days so far have been days at the beach. I expected them to yawn widely in front of me, with hours and hours of free time to read, search the depths of my soul, commune with nature, spend time with friends and neighbours … and there has been, don’t get me wrong, some time for all of that. I may even be, by the time I’m employed, a fan of The Chew, god help me.
But I’m one of those people who flops everywhere when I’m not firmly girdled by structure imposed from without. So my structure has been to spend regular working hours in front of the computer, looking for and applying to jobs, building my networks. When I’m not at my desk, my absence is usually work-related as well — interviewing contacts for their advice on how to continue, doing research at the library, sitting in the sun working on story ideas.
At a career transition seminar offered to the laid-off by my former employer, I found all this work had really put me ahead of the curve in some ways — everything the seminar leaders were telling us to do, I’d done. Top of the class! Mind you, some of those who didn’t come to the class were actually out working, so I’m not sure I win.
Still, six weeks has flown by more quickly than I would have imagined, and that’s in part because the days do not in any way yawn ahead of me. I’ll look at the clock at 11:30 in the morning and think, “I’ll just do this and then have lunch,” and the next thing I know it’s 2:30 and I’m starving. I check my social media sites, check job postings, fire off a few resumes, write a blog post (or two), work on a couple of article pitches, read a few interesting articles posted on Twitter, research something else, and the next thing you know the day is over, and by any reasonable estimation I should feel free to go enjoy my evening. Some days I can’t point to one productive moment but I can’t say that my minutes weren’t spent in the pursuit of the goal either.
Man, I need a vacation.