So the next month or so will pretty much decide whether my life heads down one of two possible paths.
Option 1: 2010 rolls around, my work contract runs out, and I get laid off from my current job. I begin collecting unemployment immediately and most likely continue collecting (while looking for nonexistent jobs in GR) for the next 79 weeks (at which point the money runs out).
Pros: I seize this potentially once in a lifetime opportunity to get paid while not working and chase down every adventure I can afford. National parks visited, mountains climbed, circuits hiked, Michigan winters avoided, roads trips with dog heads hanging out the windows. At least one legitimate surfari (Baja?) or maybe just a few weeks straight at one surf spot: grungy, weather beaten, and thoroughly copacetic. Maybe take the time to learn another foreign language. When unemployed you’re supposed to available and ready to work while collecting, so foreign trips might not be the best idea, but I suppose I could afford to pause the unemployment for a couple weeks while traveling. Time for reading, video games, and sleeping in. Every idealized life of leisure scenario suddenly seems possible.
Cons: You can really only go down after a year and a half of this, so the rest of my life might be a bit of a drag. It’s tough to find people to go on adventures with, so I might get dominated by a bear/shark/falling boulder while soloing in the wild. The bank account would take a hit, but maybe not too badly with the Michigan cost of living (and I travel on the cheap, there’s no shame in sleeping in the car). Potential future financial hit as future employers question massive resume gap. Mary one day snapping and pummeling the relaxed dopey grin off my face after months of working, attending school, and taking care of a husband-abandoned house.
Option 2: My soon-to-be interview for a Biologist job (same company I’m at now, but different office) goes successfully. You, sir, are hired. 2010 rolls around and it’s back to the 40 hour work week.
Pros: Lateral career move into a field that I would undoubtedly enjoy more than my current work. Interesting field work. Financial security, potentially long-term. Once company-paid education benefits return (thanks a lot Bin Laden for ruining the world), I could snag a Master’s degree. Future employment options (CO, CA, yes?). Biologist is a much easier job to describe to people than Environmental Planner following everyone’s favorite “So, what do you do?” question.
Cons: Job interviews are stressful (especially when pushing the fringes of the job qualifications). Starting a new job can be stressful (especially with the lateral move learning curve). Adventures are postponed until they never happen. Fewer surfaris and more time shivering in Lake Michigan in sloppy blown out conditions. Button-down husband with briefcase scenarios suddenly seem possible.
You, sir, have the very unique situation where you are a totally capable worker who can easily leech off the unemployment system. I say go for it!
I’m almost due for another early retirement. Maybe I should move back to (jobless) Michigan and go on unemployment, too.
I figure that’s what it’s there for. I paid in my money for the past decade. I won’t feel the least bit guilty about it, especially if I really am trying to find work.
Hope your opportunity to interview for the biologist job goes well, Josh. Where exactly would that be?
Grand Rapids, with some travel. Same company.