05/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How To Make A Layoff Less Awkward

As the economy blasts away at white-collar workers as well as blue-collar ones, the newly jobless are learning an ungainly new language: How to spin their situation to other parents on the Saturday morning sidelines. How to convey nonchalance during Pinteresque pauses in the golf-club locker rooms. How to fend off inquisitive family members at Memorial Day barbecues.

For so many, the loneliness is palpable. "I stopped getting together with colleagues from the office," said a Manhattan man who had worked for nearly two decades in sales and trading for a large investment bank and was laid off in January.

His office friends could offer little solace, he said. They are preoccupied with their own anxious limbo. Summoning the post-apocalyptic refrain, he added, "It's like 'The living envy the dead.' "

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