The XX Factor

I Lost My Job! And the World is a Better Place for It.

Rachel Balik writes a very funny blog, The Wicked Witch of the Web . When she lost her job, she posted 10 Reasons It’s Great to Be Laid Off on her site. After I read her list, I asked her to write something for Your Comeback.

She rose to the challenge. Here’s her take on why unemployment makes the world a better place.

As a staff writer at a small online publisher just gaining traction in Sept. 2008, I started preparing for my layoff the minute CNN flashed the word “bailout” across the TV screen at my gym. I made sure I was financially prepared. I made sure that I had a plan for what to do with my leftover business cards. But I was not prepared for the feeling of being useless.

Working for a living has been an important American value since the Puritans, and working is all anyone in New York City cares about. Thus, the first two weeks of my layoff involved a fair bit of weeping and self-loathing. When I finally waded through the red tape and started receiving unemployment checks, I became determined to somehow earn them.

I started thinking of myself as a professional champion of good will, a sort of Tiny Tim-type, but without crutches or an English accent. And I came up with these.


Ten Reasons Why Your Layoff is Good for the Universe.

God bless them, every one.

10. You become the child your family always wanted.

When all your employed friends have no news to report (“Yup … just work … same as always …”), you can make your mom’s day by calling to get the gossip about every single family on your childhood block. Then call your grandma, just to say hello. When someone in your family gets pregnant, offer your free services as babysitter. (And if you end up employed again before nine months is up, it’s the thought that counts.)

9. You’re taking care of tourists, every day.

When you’re on your way to work, tourists are your worst nightmare. They slow things down. They get lost. But when you’re laid off, you move at a tourist’s pace because, frankly, you don’t have anywhere to be. Help those lost tourists get found. Then ask if they’d like you to take a picture. You’ve got the time.

8. You can remind angry Republicans that Obama’s election wasn’t such a bad thing.

“I know this wasn’t how you envisioned your retirement, Grandpa. But think how great it is that I get unemployment for a whole year. COBRA, too!”

7. You’re putting an end to road rage, one driver at a time.

You’d be surprised how inconsequential two hours of traffic is when you have 24 hours a day of free time. Can you believe that guy rode the whole way in the shoulder and wants to cut in now? Sure! He’s an innovative thinker. The more the merrier.

6. You ask, “How are you?” and listen to the answer .

You may not believe this if you’re currently employed, but it is possible to get sick of thinking about yourself. Hearing about how someone else’s day is going is a great way to entertain yourself while you’re waiting for prime-time TV to start.

5. You become a better friend.

If I had a dollar for the number of times I’ve said, “Call me whenever you need me. Any time, day or night!” then I wouldn’t have to be looking for a new job.

4. You can cover the late shift.

You and your roommates will never be sure if the mouse problem is solved unless someone’s there at 3 a.m. to make sure the little guy doesn’t creep out. Park your butt in the kitchen and wait for it.

3. Help to lower gross national anxiety.

Previously, anxiety attacks were necessary aids in accomplishing all your anxiety-provoking tasks. Post-layoff, all you have to worry about is being unemployed. You can tackle this quandary with simple, mellow, episodes of low-grade unease.

2. You evolve into an expert list-maker.

When you are employed, you are constantly scrambling to meet deadlines. At my job, I wrote two articles a day and then had to summarize them in 140 characters on Twitter. I didn’t have time to make to-do lists! Now I make to-do lists all the time-and it’s easy to check off items, too. 1) Make a list. 2) Visit the museum. 3) Cruise Craigslist for unpaid writing jobs. 4) Get coffee. 5) Make another list.

1. You can tell people how great layoffs are.

With more layoffs happening every day, it’s better for American morale if people can look forward to, rather than dread, their layoffs. Singing the praises of unemployment is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

Rachel Balik is a newly freelanced writer living in Brooklyn. You can regularly read her writing (for free!) on her blog, The Wicked Witch of the Web . She will also write you a top ten list on any subject of your choosing if you e-mail her .

Photograph of three women by Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images.