I’ve been unemployed 6 1/2 months now. I am a petroleum geologist in Calgary, Alberta. Just about the worst place in the world to be any kind of geologist. Brent pricing is hovering above $45 but damn, that makes 90% of oil pools in Alberta uneconomic to drill or produce right now. Which means, me and most of my friends get to keep wearing jeans every day and figure out how to cheaply replace our broken appliances.
Unemployment has interesting stages of evolution, much like grief:
- Denial and Isolation: Shit I Can’t Believe I just Got Laid Off.
- Anger: Those Fuckers.
- Bargaining: If Only I Had Never Worn Those Mustard Yellow Pants To Work.
- Depression: I Suck. No One Will Ever Hire Me Again.
- Acceptance: Well, It Happens. Time to Focus On My Job Search.
Everyone hits acceptance at different times but there is a #6 & #7 for the unemployed.
6. Networking: Notice Me, Notice Me, Notice Me, Notice Me, Notice Me, Notice Me
This essentially becomes a mind numbing task after the 78th coffee date. How many times can you possibly explain why you were laid off versus the bitch giving the boss blow jobs? Except you don’t say that because then you come off as being bitter. Instead, you are super duper happy with all this extra time off to worry about broken appliances and to refocus on your strengths like binge watching The Walking Dead. And it starts feeling slutty always maneuvering to get the other person to buy you a coffee. You even try to scam a lunch now and then by pausing awkwardly when the waitress asks if you both want one bill or two.
7. Everyone is an Entrepreneur: There Are No Jobs In My Profession. Oh Shit.
This is the what we like to call the climax. The protagonist has exhausted all options and in a fit of drunken hope, decides that all those heart to hearts with her pals means she has an unfulfilled calling as a life coach! She abandons her soul crushing career as a corporate engineer and starts life anew with a new website, a full calendar of speaking engagements and a self stylized BRAND that incorporates her love of mauve, hot yoga, and an organic pomegranate cream that she uses religiously.
#7 looks great on the movie screen but in the real world it means everyone changes their current career status to CEO of their newly incorporated business on LinkedIn. And then they go network some more with their newly conceptualized BRAND and wait and wait and wait for something great to happen. I’m always shocked to discover how much thought went into BRANDing themselves and how poorly conceived their business models are. No one seemingly wants to actually make anything. They want to be facilitators, motivators and other ‘ors’ that essentially make them overpaid middlemen. I wish them luck.
I’m looking for a job as a geologist. I’m good at it, I love it and the world needs oil. This means I have to stay calm and wait. And maybe work at Safeway as a clerk to make money until the oil prices turn around. But I have no delusions about where my worth lies. I find oil and I make money for shareholders. I find oil that keeps us awash in plastics and fuels the machines. I find the oil that provides government revenue for schools and hospitals. The world keeps turning and I will keep turning with it.