How To Be Happily Unemployed

This guy's starting to get the hang of it

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.


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  • Did all that come out of one head?

    The 'plaque protecting the teeth' point reminded me to make a call to the dentist for a mid-year de-plaqueing. (is that really a word?)

    And yeah . . . you're right in the futility of going to the moon! Were they just trying to prove there really is a moon? It's not a cheeseball after all?

  • Funny post John! Good advice too. Makes me wish I was unemployed. LOL

  • Dave

    Excellent read John, and one that I've been living for real now for about 14 months (after losing my job of 25 1/2 years). The additional things I would add (as I continue my almost daily perusal of Monster and Careerbuilder)…

    – Realizing that the spare winter tire I've been carrying for over 20 years really wasn't as attractive as I had come to think, and that losing it (still) was the BEST thing I've done for myself and my family in decades. (Special thanks to my Dr's Office and their Lifestyle Program!)

    – Taking the time to ENJOY life with my children including a 5 month old sweetness named Sophie (found out the day I lost my job that we were expecting our 3rd…first in 9 years…and my 5th overall) and my beautiful wife, Jenn!

    – Continuing to try to find spiritual strength, insight and direction. Funny how losing a job can be one of those things that God uses to draw us back…

    In the hustle and bustle of life and work, I'd lost sight of many of the things that should have been first on my priority list. Are they back where they should be? Probably not totally, but they're heading in the right direction. As for a job, lol…it'll happen, hopefully still before the creditors start ringing the phone or pounding the door, but eventually I'll find a company with the same ideals as myself, where family, loyalty, and integrity are just as important as performance! 🙂

    Again, thanks for your thoughts John, as always, while they make me chuckle, more importantly, they make me think, and be a bit introspective!

    God Bless!

  • Things to do while waiting for my Unemployment Cash Card

    1. Read Shore's Blog. Check

    2. Take a Nap

    3. Repeat

  • Greta: Yeah, the whole moon thing. The scary thing about that is that you can just TELL the moon is going to be the next place we just start leaving our trash. You KNOW the moon is about forty years away from being The World's Dump. Which, now that I think of it, maybe isn't so bad. Seems wrong, though. Anyhooo…

    Russell: "Makes me wish I was unemployed." Too funny! Thanks.

    Dave: Wow! Interesting stuff! Good job. Sounds like you've got the perfect attitude. Excellent.

    Sam: That really pleases me. Thank you.

  • John: I'm relieved to see that you still believe things "drop from the moon" and thus you're rejecting the heretical Copernican and Galilean schools of physics that suggest the moon in orbit around the earth, not hanging like the sun and the stars OVER the earth. I think the faithful need to demand our schools start teaching Ptolemy again instead of ruining our children's morals with talk of orbits and light-years.

  • Okay, so what is the astrophysics on that? Is it true that if you had a bomb on the moon, you could, at just about any given time, hit the earth with it? Or do you have to wait for a … clear shot, or what?

  • Never read Shore's blog while drinking Earl Grey Green over your keyboard. It was all I could do to keep from spewing a hot stream that woulda fried a crucial tool of my technical writing trade. Having set my cup down before becoming unemployed, I gotta say: Thanks for the laugh, John! –kathleen

  • Why not start a business. So you could work for yourself, and control your own life.

  • Cathy

    May I just take a moment to say this is hilarious and, at the same time, really, really thought-provoking 🙂 Thank you, as always.

  • Hilarious John, you've just provided a bright start to my day. Luckily I hadn't started drinking my morning coffee or the keyboard would have worn it.

    However, for the life of me, I can't find Chicken Soup Costs Too Much For You Now, You Loser on ???

  • Fantastic advice. Gotta go scrounge for some kindling to add to the rug.

  • ann

    Gad. I thought you were spying on me for a minute there. Having been out of work for 6 weeks (and staring at a phone does NOT make potential employers call ) I have discovered:

    1) wearing your hair in a ponytale underneath a stained ancient baseball cap saves you all that grooming time.

    2) if you only converse with other unemployed people, you can easily convince yourself that a) its all somebody elses fault and b) there's nothing that can be done about it, so why try.

    Also, may I suggest, instead of cable, invest in a police scanner. I don't think I'll ever go back to work, this is so much fun!

  • Kim H

    Boy, I am glad I read this article today. I feel you pulled me from the clutches of my disparity because I had started contemplating making a call to Maury myself to "get help" for my slightly dysfunctional family. Although, I was starting to get a little concerned when I woke up late only to find out I had missed finding out if Amy Fisher and Danny Buttawhateverhisnameis sold their life stories, or lack thereof, to somebody who was desperate enough to want to write about it. Hey, now, we have been watching the wrong channel all these years. You know as good as I do that the history channel doesn't give you entertainment and employment opportunities all in 30 minutes time…

    I am so glad to find out I've been going about this all wrong…I have been on Worker's Compensation due to a work related injury (I know, duh!!!) and have been fretting about not being able to work the 60 hours a week I normally work. Guess I should just sit back and wait for that 66 1/3 to come rolling in. I wonder if they could forward it to Bali?

    Thanks for sharing the "lighter side" of life today!

  • A good sense of humor is so necessary when seeking employment! Thanks for the laffs…

  • And all this time I've been thinking I need to TAKE CARE of myself….thanks for setting me straight. You make a great self-help guru. Maybe you could do this for a living….

  • God help us all…

  • Okay. Funny again John. Funny and oh so helpful. I love how you weave humor into such remarkably sound advice. As one who's been unemployed (unemployed clergy no less) since last year, I made some serious mistakes in the beginning such as thinking all that free time would be a perfect opportunity to get in shape! I only wish I'd had your advice then. It would have kept me from training for a marathon, going to the gym and sweating like a nervous baboon and limiting fats and sugar from my diet. Whew…just admitting all this feels so much better.

    I'm happy to report however that I had an intuitive sense about getting in touch with nature, most often attired in a raggedy pair of gray sweats with an oversized white teeshirt stained from a nasty episode involving a failed attempt to deep-fry orange slices. And there's something to be said for the creativity and individuality produced by a good bout of bed hair.

    Here's looking ahead to many more weeks and months to practice and refine the skills your recent tips have offered. I am indebted.

  • I think technically it would have to be a missile, which is rocket-propelled, as opposed to a bomb, which is dropped. More or less. Then, with enough equations of orbits and hand-waving, you could shoot the earth.

  • Yes, I do know that the bomb must be rocket-propelled; that it must be SHOT, not dropped. But could you hit the earth with it at ANY time?

  • You mean the “windows” and such like with the shuttle? I dunno. I would think it could be pretty much ANY time, but the calculations would have to be done for each specific situation–where you wanted it to hit, trajectories, getting thru the atmosphere, etc. And hand-waving. There has to be lots of hand-waving. Like magic.

  • That’s what I thought: That from the moon you could hit earth any time. BRIAN!!! (Now watch me wrong about this…)

  • Why not dump the trash in the upper atmosphere so its burns up? That should be the perfect incinerator. Maybe I could get a job doing that!

  • Tam

    You forgot to mention drinking to go with all the snacking. I recomend finding the perfect brew for each type of chip…

  • A good read to the end. This post is tight – keep up the good work.

  • Thank you, Oz. But, no: that’s just a made-up title. I was just being funny with it.

  • nylan

    I like donuts

    This post makes me want donuts

    Curse you John Shore

  • Thanks, Cathy. Wonderful comment. Thanks.

    Tam: I HAD something about drinking–but then remembered my stuff is also posted on So. NOT.

  • thanks for the encouragement! who needs no-pay web developer? contact me. ahehe

  • mamuzo

    An excellent post! I was drawn in to the end. Funny but quite good advice . . . Well done

  • Hey, John.

    Wow! This is great!

    You know, I think you're even funnier than Dave Barry. Honest! That's just one guy's opinion, of course, but maybe you should tell your manager/promoter to get off his a– and get you syndicated!

    A Christian humorist, syndicated, would be great. Go let your light shine!

    May God bless you richly, John, and use you mightily for His kingdom and for His glory!


  • Sorry John, yes, I guess I was being persnickety (glad your comments have spell check) about the term “dropped” as opposed to shot. In a good natured way enjoying the fun before all of those eternities frying in the depths of hell while you laugh at me from heaven. (Reminds me of that Talking Heads song about heaven being “a place where nothing ever happens. It’s hard to imagine that nothing at all could be so exciting, could be so much fun”)

    I once went to a college where they forced everyone to read Ptolemy (his cosmology explains everything you could see with the naked eye from Greece at his time) so I do sometimes wonder why Christians aren’t as fundamentalist about their astronomy as they are about their biological sciences (with that whole evolution thing).

  • Brian, you really DO need to stop referring to fundamentalist Christians as “Christians.” While all fundamentalists are Christian, only a small minority of Christians are fundamentalists. Fair is fair, Bait Boy.

  • Des

    In the first dot com bust around 2000, many in the internet industry lost their jobs. Places like were the poster children of the excesses of the late 90's in internetdom. So what did all these laid off people do? They came up with stuff like WordPress and Twitter! The moral of this story is that bored geeks place in the hands of the squares, things that will waste their time until another dot com bust happens.

  • "like a cow worrying over a McDonald’s opening in their neighborhood"

    ..too funny John!

  • Doc D

    Too true!!! Time to get perspective and realise the corporate rat-race is actually a man-made construct that means nothing!! I love my morning coffee at 9am in the back yard thinking about all those poor shmucks who are either starting work or have been at it foe an hour already!!!

  • But how do you pay your bills, Doc?

  • Wow, you saved me(by by God's grace) I was about to lose it but I'm ok now. Gotta go watch so cable… be back later….

  • Ok, its me again. I do need to let you know, I am a better speller. I didn't edit, I'll do better. I was uh…thinkin', and drinkin' (coffee) and trying to watch cable… I just read all the reader comments BEFORE I even read your comments. I was inspired by that!

  • Karen

    You should write a book! LMAO

  • Karen

    Just a follow up to my post..I felt a burden lift from me after reading your article..write a book, maybe a would really sell right now and give people a refreshing look at their situation and there is nothing better for the soul than a little humor in hard times. Thanks again!

  • Karen

    And yet even another post…better yet, you could create one of those "study cards" like they have in CVS.

  • I just discovered this article. Finding myself newly unemployed I can completely relate, and am working myself up to the point of actually working through that amazing list of yours.

    Number 1 is actually hard, I’ve never been a big fan of television. However there is the perfect substitute, FACEBOOK!!!… plus a couple of web forums and John, among others.

    Number 2 is easy, there is a big bag o chips on top of my fridge just asking for it.

    3…Ok I am wearing a frayed tank top and a pair of yoga pants that Surinamese the great Goose attack of 2012. (no actual waterfowl was harmed at this event, just thouroughly pissed off). My hair is twisted up with something..a hairclip, or was it a pen? But I did bathe…yesterday.

    4. Every time I try to nap, someone calls me. No not a potential employer who must hire me yesterday, but either my darling spouse or one of the kids. Being a mom, I am rather used to the napless state. I am trying my hand at organization, cupboards, computer files, underwear drawers…..I’m so damned bored…

    5. I’m a cow and oh bloody hell, is that a McDonalds???? yeah, its only been two weeks and I can’t quite get over the panic state yet. Well also because I have yet to see an unemployment check either.

    I actually plan on writing about this stage of my life soon. Your version was a big help, it made me laugh. I need lots of that these days.

  • I have no idea how the word Surinamese ended up in place of the word survived…odd.