Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"This lady doesn't have a job"

While I was getting my hair cut today, the stylist and I were making the idle chit chat you make in salons.
"So what do you do?," the stylist asks while lathering my hair.
"Well... um, I used to work for a magazine."
"Oh, really? Which magazine?"
"Lipstick? You probably never saw it..."
"No, I remember that magazine! I know somebody who worked there. Actually, she still works there. Her name is [says name of person who didn't work at Lipstick]."
"Um, actually she works at the News. She didn't work for Lipstick."
"Are you sure? Because I remember her telling us she was working on the magazine. She talked about it all the time! She's got long red hair?"
"Well.. I was the editor, and she didn't work for Lipstick. And she's blonde."
"Oh... So what are you doing now?"
"Freelancing." I said this with a straight face.
"That's good. Hey, did you hear about one of the radio stations doing a show where you call in your resume and they help you with it?"
"Oh, really? That sounds interesting," I say, mildly interested.
"Hey, Tammy!" my stylist yells across the salon. "Do you know that show on the radio you call in with your resume and they help you with it?"
"I don't listen to the radio," Tammy says.
"Oh you know what I'm talking about. The one on 102.5? The one with Dollar Bill and the girl who replaced Patti?"
"You don't call in your resume, you post it online where everybody can see it," Tammy answers, a tad impatiently to my ears. "Why do you want to know?"
My stylist yells back, "This lady doesn't have a job and I thought it would be good for her."

Fortunately, this is a small salon and there were only 7 or 8 people in it at the time. Still, I was embarrassed. But why? It's not exactly a secret -- or a humiliation -- that I don't have a job. I probably should tell everyone I see that I'm out of work. And also that I'm creative, hardworking, a good typist and work well alone or in groups. You never know who might be the next Mark to my Rachel, with the perfect job at Bloomie's.

With so many people unemployed right now, I think there's no longer the stigma of being jobless that there once was. People understand, and don't judge you for it. That doesn't mean I don't judge myself. I still go through scenarios in my head where we could have hung on to Lipstick. I think, If only I had been a better salesperson and a better manager and If only we had had the support we needed and about a billion other "what ifs" that don't matter now and probably wouldn't have salvaged the thing anyway.

The thing is, I've never been laid off. Well, once, but I was 21 at the time and got hired back less than two months later. It was never a reflection on me because that job was just a job. I did it to have drinking money and because my two besties worked at the same place. But Lipstick -- that was not just a job. It was the culmination of everything I had ever worked for or wanted. And to have it fail felt personal and final. So it's not just that I'm out of a job -- I'm out of the job I thought defined me as a person. Now I've got to find some other way to define myself.

After my stylist got through telling everyone my business, we actually had a lovely chat about Michael Jackson, Larry Langford, why everyone in Alabama is nuts about football, how Birmingham is like Gary, Indiana and our plans for July 4. She did a fabulous job on my hair, too.


  1. Glad you liked the cut! Especially after all of shouldn't feel bad, but I understand. Being laid off SUCKS! Oh well...when one door closes another one opens, right? Hope you and Royal have a fantastic 4th!

  2. At least you were a "lady" and not some delinquent or the unemployed skank ... I'm trying to be an optimist, really.