Like too many other Americans, I recently lost my job. Knowing that I was far from alone in my anxiety-provoking situation helped a bit, as did receiving my first unemployment check. But aside from glimpses in news articles and the occasional outreach project, it seemed that the individual stories of these thousands upon thousands of suddenly jobless people just weren't being told.
So a few weeks ago my friend David Kamp and I started up The Breadline, a website devoted to telling the tales of the unemployed -- in their own words. It's a place for fun commiseration, or, as we like to call it, "A blog of reduced circumstances and gallows humor." Through our Breadline Questionnaire, people from all across the country have told us how their lives have changed.
A former marketing-communications chief in Minneapolis said, "My first job every day is to not fall into despair." A onetime historian for a public agency in Portland, Orgeon, said, "After years of working my ass off, I'm frankly kind of enjoying the time off, and I'm staying busy with volunteer projects." A laid-off pilot in Honolulu wrote, "I needed to start all over again and put together a résumé, which I haven't needed to do for thirty years." A onetime IT executive in Charleston, South Carolina, who lost his job more than a year ago said, "My wife and I joke that once we have watched every syndicated rerun of Law & Order, our lives will lose the only purpose or meaning it currently has." To explain what motivates her to get up in the morning, a former health-care administrator in Providence, Rhode Island, replied, "Not much! Coffee? Laundry? The need to pee?"
If you're unemployed, get on the Breadline! And if you're employed, count your blessings -- and send your jobless friends our way.