One of the hardest things about parenthood is having flexible expectations. I’m not talking about hoping your kid turns out to be an astronaut, but if he ends up a fry cook, you’ll be satisfied. I’m talking about the day to day activities and adjusting them around your kid. For example, you really want to watch the movie Tropic Thunder. Its about 10PM, the baby is getting ready to fall asleep and you put it into the crib. The baby appears to go asleep and you run to the DVD player and fire up the movie. As the movie begins to play, you hear screaming. You pause the movie and run back to the baby and stick the pacifier back into its mouth. You run back to the DVD and push play. One minute later, the baby starts to scream again. You pick the baby up and try to rock it back to sleep, the baby stops screaming and you try to put it back into the crib, but as soon as the baby touches the crib, it starts to scream again. You get frustrated, you’ve been thinking about Tropic Thunder all week and you couldn’t wait to watch it. You’ve fed the baby, you’ve changed the baby, you rocked the baby, you’ve even turned on baby music to help it sleep. You look to the sky and scream, “Why God? Why won’t my kid sleep, I’ve done everything you asked me to do. All I wanted was to watch Tropic Thunder!” There’s two options at this point, you can try to watch Tropic Thunder with a pissed off screaming baby in the background or you can turn off the DVD player and focus on the baby for another hour or two until it falls asleep. Generally, it is best to adjust your schedule, because the baby never gives in.
This story is pretty much how I felt about my current situation of being laid off. I could get really upset and frustrated, I could beat my head against the wall trying to get a job immediately in the same industry despite the horrible volatility and terrible job market, or I could go with the flow and have flexible expectations.
Here’s where I am going to lose some of you. This is the point where some people might think I am a little insane or maybe just disagree with me entirely. But I started to see the unemployment as the baby screaming and I decided that it needs to be dealt with on a grander level. This thing won’t go to bed, I’ve been laid off twice in 2 years and fled a crashing company the year before that. It’s time to focus on the screaming baby in the room and put it to bed. I am entirely confident that I am very good at what I do, but the industry is just a mess because of the evolving scrutiny of healthcare coverage and pharmaceutical companies.
Side note, when my ad agency told me I was being laid off, they asked if I could work half days until the end of April, but I am getting paid full-time. So I’m still working as I draft this posting.
I started to think, what if I just go unemployed. I’ll make 50% of my salary, which is pretty good. My rental lease expires in May, my wife and I both have families close by with houses big enough to accommodate us while we get back onto our feet, and I could take some time getting a job in an industry that would offer more stability, potentially benefiting from Obama’s new stimulus package. Healthcare is the biggest expense of being unemployed, but the new stimulus package has a provision where the company you work for has to pay 65% of your COBRA fees which helps substantially (last time, COBRA cost me over $1000 a month, now it would be closer to $350). If I was unemployed, I could still work part time and that would have me working less, enjoying the beautiful summer, and making a decent amount of money. I know, it’s awful mooching off the system and trust me, I’d much rather just be an employee with my current employer, but you have to play the hand you are dealt, you have to have flexible expectations. I could go on the road trip of my dreams, work at River Country helping tubers, and get a nice tan to go with my nice body!
This was my first plan, the plan I came up with almost immediately. I’m sure there are flaws, but it’s still in the mix. Fortunately, there’s other opportunities coming up as well and I might just end up with the big pharmaceutical company instead of working for them through the ad agency. The details are not finalized yet, but at the very least, you will be able to find me working at Bucks County River Country this summer and loving every minute of it.