Until the unemployment rate started pushing toward 8% nationally, most people cited “time” as their most depleted resource. Time was so precious, many people were happy to shell out a few extra bucks for conveniences that would save them time -- five minutes here, an hour there. It was the cost of doing business -- the business of life.
So it would go to reason that with nearly 8% of people unemployed, that all of these people, with all of this new-found time, would engage in all the activities they once only “openly wished” was possible. They would volunteer more at local charities, join the PTA, keep in closer contact with friends and family, and finally paint the living room that’s been “needing a fresh coat” for more than a few years now.
But it doesn’t work that way. Because as it turns out, even when the entire world understands that laid off workers are victims of a down economy, losing the reason to wake up at six o’clock every morning also takes away a great deal of the fuel that propelled a lot of folks busily and merrily from task-to-task for 12 hours straight.
When the money doesn’t come in, sacrifices have to be made. As it turns out, many folks would rather give up a home phone than the freedom a cell phone offers -- and those formerly huge minutes-per-month plans get cut back too, to the basics. And that means that when a call comes in from a friend on daytime minutes, unless it includes news about a newly posted job opening, those daytime minutes have to be saved for interviews and other job-critical calls.
At night, people aren’t staying up enjoying all those free nighttime minutes -- and weekend minutes, those aren’t being burned up either. So much of our lives are wrapped up in our jobs, that without a micro-managing boss to complain about, or the loud-talker in the cubicle next door, a lot of people don’t have anything they want to talk about. And even if they did, despite having more time than ever -- they just don’t have the energy.
For the remaining 92% still employed, self-employed, or intentionally unemployed, the best course of action is to simply give our friends their time and space. Don’t wait by the phone, or wonder why they haven’t called. They will at some point. It’s just one more way the world has once again changed.
It turns out that as critical of a resource as time is and was, maybe it’s not the only resource that matters. Maybe what’s more critical is the presence of friends who care from a distance, remain close but not too close, and know enough not to wait by the phone.
Creating Job Security was featured in USA TODAY, Tuesday February 3, on the cover of the Money section, Section B. The article was called "More families move in together.” You can read it at www.usatoday.com. To purchase Creating Job Security Resource Guide for $8.95, visit http://www.amazon.com/.
* This blog post is written in honor and memory of my very dear friend and mentor, Eileen Mintz, who lost her battle with cancer on Sunday, February 1, 2009.