Video Digest: May 30, 2008

As U.S. jobs shrink and money gets tighter, our unemployed masses search for ways to entertain themselves until this, too, passes. Meave Gallagher offers glimmers of hope.

The economic outlook’s been pretty bleak this year, what with the tanking housing market and the mess it made on Wall Street, and ordinary Americans are losing their jobs. Worse, even extraordinary Americans are being forced out on the street, with not so much as a cardboard box to carry their personal items home.

It seems the only people with any job security are gas and oil company employees. Here’s a little advice, future adults of these United States: trade school. Though gasoline may not be as expensive by weight as beer or coffee, prices are still on the rise. Which means experienced pipe layers in the petroleum refinery industry can pull six-figure salaries these days.

When a person is laid off, downsized, or forced into early retirement, and has no other job lined up, what happens next? What are we doing with all the free time suddenly presented to us? Some are learning new skills to stay solvent: such as recycling for profit.

Others are losing their minds, and protesting in very dangerous places.

Even others still are spending money on career coaches, hoping their advice can offer an advantage—despite all evidence to the contrary.

All the unemployed “hurt puppies,” are learning all over again how to sell themselves in a job market that keeps shrinking.

Speaking of humor therapy, some of the unemployed are celebrating their unemployment, learning to smile when turned down for a position and roll with every punch to the gut.

The longtime jobless—those out of work for more than 26 weeks—focus on filling their empty days, with tweaker-like intensity on minute tasks and developing mild agoraphobia.

Some are feeling conflicted about receiving government money.

The most pragmatic are sending out résumés in between movie marathons on the couch in their pajamas.

But don’t worry; even without insurance, anti-anxiety medication is cheap, and the doctors at free clinics can write you a nice, soothing prescription to take the edge off. Look on the bright side: Even the Great Depression came to an end and the current straights aren’t nearly so dire.

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