Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Observations of the impatient ilk

Being on the dole of the unemployment kind and being a people watcher, I often get caught up in observing how people treat their fellow humans in different circumstances.

One theme I've been exploring lately is that of patience. I've been a variously patient and impatient sort. I surprise myself with the patience I have with young kids in a class and yet the Boston in me erupts when I encounter obviously non-thinking drivers.

But I have found the most interesting reactions from people who make assumptions about me, especially now that I am unemployed. I have long been active in the extracurricular activities that kept me sane during my previous jobs and those activities haven't changed because I have the need to stay sane now more than ever. What's changed is that instead of working 8 or 9 hours a day, I now look for a new job, I clean house (where I used to hire help there), mow the lawn (used to stimulate the local economy there, too), and cook (used to buy a lot of prepared or takeout to save time, now I cook from scratch). On a school day, I have less than 6 hours a day as opposed to my previous 8 or 9 to concentrate on what I need to get done, whatever that entails. And yet, many of my acquaintance think that I should be able to take on new commitments or somehow do more than I am. Is this a rant? Yes. I am railing against those people that feel they know I should be doing "better." I should be better at keeping in touch, I should be better at housekeeping, I should be a better community member, you name it, I should be better at it, just by virtue of being unemployed.

Why did the standard change from when I was being paid to work? I'm figuring out that it's the matter of perceived "free" time. I do admit that I can do things now that I could not before because I now have the time. But there is a balance sheet that comes into play. Take cooking for example. The fact that I am cooking our meals from scratch has meant a huge cost savings in our money budget, but, conversely, a huge expense in my time budget. The easiest meals I prepare are a minimum half hour prep and about a half hour cleanup.   So I can make a pizza for a couple bucks instead of buying a take and bake pizza for $10-$12 or a fully baked one for $20. I spend a half an hour prep (while the bread machine does the bulk of the work during the two-hour lead time) instead of popping open a box upon arrival. Another example is now I am the bulk of the after school and summer time supervision for Resident Kid instead of paying for lots of after school activities and summer camps.

I am one of the lucky ones in terms of mental health (Death and Joblessness) and yet still I suffer the impatience of those amongst my acquaintance that believe I should somehow be able to get myself into a different situation if only I were really trying. 

I, ironically, don't have patience with these sorts. I have found that my mental health improved when I realized that I don't need the added expectations from other people's measuring sticks. I don't need the ruler rapped on my knuckles to make me try harder. Ultimately, my motivation comes from the fact that it's my family's well-being that is at stake here and it is beyond me to understand why others believe that their approval or disapproval will spur me to greater deeds.

I use the unemployment situation as the example here, but really, doesn't this apply in other circumstances as well? I should be more patient with those sorry, inexperienced folks that believe I should magic a job out of thin air. But, by my sarcasm, I find I have a long way to go.


  1. A friend took a month off work, thinking she'd have time to accomplish all kinds of things, along with time to laze about. But it didn't work like that. House/cooking/kid-stuff/a few extra projects - she felt uber busy the whole time. She ended up being stunned that anything gets done at all when she's working full time. The extra time is an illusion. When you don't have it, you organize harder, hurry more, and leave more ragged edges. And hire people, pay for convenience, etc., as you said. Eventually you'll find another job. It's not easy right now, stupid economy. And it's hard, in the midst of the stress of job hunting, but if you can, enjoy not having to cram things quite so tightly!

  2. Thanks for the observations and thoughts. I do welcome the somewhat slower pace, especially in the mornings when it used to be such a drag race to get everyone out the door on time.