Have you recently lost your job? Fear not: It happens to everyone. You might recall that Albert Einstein, for instance, was once fired from his job as a patent clerk because he kept changing the time on all the clocks in the office. And look how he turned out! Today, Einstein’s brain is pickled in a jar, so that future scientists might one day figure out what they’re supposed to do with a pickled brain in a jar.
For now, you should learn to cope with the state of being unemployed. There are some excellent books to help you with this. Your Colorful Parachute Broke And You’re Plummeting Towards Earth is one. So is Taking The Road That’s Less Traveled Because It’s Not Going Anywhere, You Loser. And Chicken Soup Costs Too Much For You Now is packed with all the heartwarming sagacity of a drunken Yoda.
But here’s all the advice you really need to successfully navigate the placid waters of joblessness:
1. See the world. If you’ve lost your job and haven’t yet subscribed to cable television, make doing so the first thing you do after coming home and kicking your couch. To get through the coming months, you’re going to need at least 120 programs to choose from, and as many movie channels as they can possibly cram into that little black box. Without those you’ll be reduced to watching network daytime television, which consists mainly of shows run by judges who will depress you since it’s clear they, too, can’t get a real job. There are also a lot of talk shows on daytime network television. While it’s inconceivable to you now, prolonged exposure to these shows will eventually desensitize you into believing, for instance, that Jerry Springer just might make a good senator. He won’t. You’re a premium person. You deserve premium cable.
2. Comfort yourself. Many people labor under the misconception that there’s a limit to how much snack food they can consume. But snack foods are mostly air and flavoring. And what flavors! Potato chips, for instance, are now available in such a wide variety of flavors—taco, vegetable omelet, beef stroganoff—there’s really no reason to eat any other kinds of food at all, except dessert. The best thing about an all chip and Ho-Ho diet is it will keep your weight up, important for buttressing your sense of being a substantial person of consequence. After all, who impresses you more: someone who clearly has trouble meeting their own needs, or someone who looks as if they could really hold their own at a business lunch? Skinny people can’t help but come across as fortune’s playthings, getting tossed about on the winds of fate like the Scarecrow getting tossed around by insane winged monkeys. Who wants that? Life has dealt you a blow. Make sure the next one has to hit hard before you even feel it.
3. Get in touch with nature. If most of us realized how much time we lose every week grooming, we would scream, muss up our own hair, and gobble an onion. Again we go back to Einstein: If he could conquer space and time with that hair, are you really going to worry about trimming your eyebrows? Gussying up oneself is not only time consuming (studies show that if the average person spent as much time waiting in line as he does looking for the cap to the toothpaste, he’d have flat feet), it’s contrary to nature’s plan. We are designed for minimum grooming. The Rastafarians, for instance, have shown us that hair left uncombed eventually transmogrifies into a stylish, durable hat. Modern science has proven that body odor serves as a natural, self-producing facial steam, that enough plaque actually protects teeth, and that a man’s long ear hairs are nature’s way of letting him know whether or not his head will fit through a hole in a fence. The list goes on and on. So, the next time some over-groomed Madison Avenue dupe suggests you wash your hair or brush your teeth, get nose to nose with that person, and cry “Ha!” That should bring a swift end to the discussion.
4. Dare to dream. Do not fail to take advantage of the down time afforded by unemployment to spend as much time as possible actually lying down. If an hour nap refreshes you, then six or seven naps a day is sure to have you bouncing off the walls like Daffy Duck. Also, you’re going to need time to process the trauma of losing your job. As Freud so famously explained in his book, Dreams: They’ll Have To Do Until Somebody Invents Television, people often experience great psychological epiphanies while dreaming. It’s true they’re often asleep when that happens, but that didn’t stop Freud from making a living, and it shouldn’t stop you, either. As if you needed any more convincing, also remember: It’s a jungle out there. And who’s king of the jungle? The mighty lion. And what’s the number one thing about lions? That’s right: you can barely wake them up with a rocket launcher. A word to the wise.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Many newly unemployed people worry over their checkbooks like a cow worrying over a McDonald’s opening in their neighborhood. Such cows are prone to nervous breakdowns—which is what you’ll have if you spend too much time fretting over “checks” and “balances.” That’s the government’s job, not yours. Your job is to stay home and trust that won’t be the last job you ever have. It’s like the ancient Chinese proverb that says, “Worry too much about something, and that thing will turn on you like a crazed butterfly with fangs.” The happy truth about being unemployed is that if you just try to be frugal (eat at home, stay indoors, stop doing laundry) you will rarely, if ever, be disrupted by financial concerns. When you are, it will usually be nothing more than a ringing phone, a person at the door, or something suddenly being turned off. But the answering machine can get it; the person at the door will eventually go away; and electricity is just corporate America’s way of saying you’re too stupid to build a nice little fire on your living room floor.
Well, that just about covers the basics. Good luck. And remember: being unemployed isn’t the end of the world. A 200,000 ton atom bomb dropped from the moon is the end of the world.
This piece is included in my humor collection: