Something that has been very hard for me to accept as a part-time unemployed person is the idea of losing one's sense of pride.
Between the begging for work (yes, it's gotten to the point of begging), and picking up freelance jobs that are so FAR beneath one's abilities and salary requirements, you can't really let your ego get in the way. This also goes for the part-time jobs that you might have to add to your resume to make ends meet-in my case, my twice-a-week gig as a hostess in a tex-mex/beach shack restaurant where they are big on dressing like a cross between someone out of "Oklahoma" and a mermaid. I call it Slutty Cowgirl Chic. My manager is obsessed with flair. Cowboy hats, anchors, sea creatures. Throw it all together and you've got...well...kind of a mess, actually.
At any rate, this is what it's come down to, and like it or not, it's the state of affairs (and truth be told, it's fun to dress up and look a little silly from time to time (it's definitely inspired some, uh, interesting bedroom role-playing ideas).
The other night a couple with a baby walked in and asked for a table for 3. The woman looked really familiar to me, but I couldn't place her, and she looked at me strangely as well. I pulled out some menus and as I was about to show them to a table she asked me "Is your name Cheese?"
Ah fuck. Busted.
I recognized her immediately as someone that I worked with a million years ago, at my "real" job. She got herself a husband and a baby. I got myself a cowboy hat and...not much else. Crap.
"What are you doing here?" she asked incredulously.
I then felt that I had to explain my entire situation. Oh, you know, I was laid off. Oh you know, I freelance, REALLY...but summer is slow. Oh you know, I have a cowgirl fetish and this satisfies my fantasy of being Ginger Rogers. Good lord...what was I doing here? It's a fucking job.
I showed them to their table and she explained to her hubby that we used to work together at (big bad ad agency). He raised his eyebrows and said "oh really". I then lingered at their table for a moment longer, catching up on life with my ex-coworker. Her husband cut in and asked "So are you our server or what?" I guess I was overstaying my welcome, since now I am no longer their "equals" but just a servant in a restaurant.
I told him their server would be with them momentarily, and to enjoy their meal. Like a dutiful hostess would do. I then hid in the kitchen for the remainder of their time there.
If I learned anything from that exchange, I would say it was that ultimately, I do not want to end up like those people. A big, fat, post-pregnant stay-at-home mom married to a big, fat, schlubby asshole who think people are "beneath" them if you are not sitting behind a big fat desk in a big fat office making a big fat salary. I'll keep my cowboy hat and my flair. And my dignity..somewhere in there...