Dear Not-Quite-President-Yet Trump;
Kudos! I recently heard you single-handedly saved 700-ish jobs at a plant in Indiana. I’m sure those workers are going to have a merrier Christmas now (maybe they can buy gifts for the 1,000 whose jobs are going elsewhere). I may not have voted for you, but seriously, I desperately want you to succeed in bringing jobs back to the U.S.. That’s because, well, I need one.
It’s been two years since my last steady gig so it’s great for me if you really are – let me use your words here –- “the greatest jobs president God ever created.” I’m not exactly thrilled that I live from paycheck to paycheck in a reality where I don’t even know if there will be a paycheck or how much it’ll be for.
I realize that there are people hurting way more than I am. I have a house (for the moment, anyway). I’ve got two healthy kids. I don’t go to bed hungry. Still, it stings when I can’t give my daughter $20 for a trip to the mall with her friends. Or when I avoid getting help for night vision issues because the specialist is out of my price range. Or when I park half a mile from the restaurant when meeting friends so I can avoid the valet charge.
You spent a lot of time on the campaign trail boasting about getting America back to work. You made it seem like when you’re president, you’d be handing out jobs the way Oprah hands out cars. Well, I’m one of those old unemployed white guys who you made that pitch to, So naturally, I have certain expectations from you. The problem is, as a billionaire with a $10,000 painting of himself hanging on his penthouse wall, it might be tough for you to relate to the unemployment experience. That’s why I’m volunteering to explain it all to you. Word of warning, though: It’s going to take more than 140 characters.
I’m not saying you have to have personally experienced a hardship you’re commenting on. I’m just saying that it helps to legitimize the comments you do make. Otherwise, you end up with opinions, not facts. As far as I can tell, your primary experience with the unemployed is firing ex-celebrities from a make-believe job on a reality TV show. That doesn’t exactly make you an expert. (Which reminds me, listening to your transition team talk about what it’s like to be without a job when they’ve never worked a regular job makes about as much sense as a wealthy white person saying there’s no racism. Oh. Wait. Never mind.)
Let me put this in a way that I’m sure you’ll understand: Being unemployed long-term is similar to eating Big Macs every day. Both activities are the type of embarrassing thing that invites negative judgment from others. Even though it’s seldom our fault, losing a job creates this guilty feeling that you’ve somehow let society down.
Whether you love or hate your job, at least it gives you a purpose. When you lose that, you get cast into the economic abyss. The longer you’re in it, the less it seems you’ll ever get out of it. Which, in turn, spins you into a downward spiral of self-loathing. It’s like that ancient economist – I think it was Yoda – explained: “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
Remember, work isn’t just what we do. It’s also who we are. “So what is it you do for a living?” is one of our nation’s top three icebreakers. (Ranked right after “You should get that looked at,” I believe.) Because our jobs have become our identity, being out of work eliminates at least 50 percent of your day-to-day conversations. The further you get from your last employment, the more awkward being social becomes.
Eventually, sharing the news of your joblessness starts crushing your spirit. I’m not sure what feels worse, the not working or the fear of telling people you’re not working. I used to read the latest unemployment statistics and be baffled by the stat for those who’d been out of work who had given up looking for work. Now that I’m enjoying my two-year unemployment anniversary, however, I get it. The constant rejection simply grinds you down until you feel too inconsequential for the process.
I feel like I’m just being whiny, providing news others absolutely don’t want to hear. It’s like, say, having herpes. It’s a personal fact that, when revealed, will cause a lot of people to drop you from their holiday card list….oops, I meant “Christmas card list.” It just it’s been so long since I’ve been able to use that term, I forget it’s now about to be legal again.
I truly hope this letter gives you a tiny bit more empathy for what it’s like to be out of work. However, in closing, I wanted to be honest with you. (So you don’t have to waste your valuable time looking it up, “honest” is a word people use when they want to tell the truth.) I have an interview this week for a job selling life insurance, but I have zero sales experience and even less desire to make that my career. Come to think of it, that gives me an idea.
You’ve been doing a lot of hiring yourself lately, what with the cabinet needing to be filled and all. Perhaps, there’s something for me too. I realize I’ve got no governmental experience. Then again, I did study Russian in college. In other words, I’m perfectly qualified to work for you. If it’s not taken yet, I think I’d be a great Secretary Of Adjectives. I assume that as president you will want to expand beyond “terrific,” “fantastic” and “bigly.”
Wait! I’m sorry. I didn’t want to offend you with that use of sarcasm. I realize humor isn’t your thing (although you do seem to watch a lot of Saturday Night Live.). It’s just that jokes are my go-to when I’m getting too serious. Better to lighten the mood than dampen it. So let me close with this. I just noticed that my daughter’s bank account is larger than mine. You can relate to that, right?
By the way, if you don’t understand and help those of us who want and need to work, be aware we are the ones that can fire you.