The beginning of the week for everyone else, but the start of your second week of unemployment.
You did all right the first week -- sending out resumes and calling up people you haven't seen for a year to let them know you're looking.
You made contacts.
You wrote cover letters making you sound so good that today you can hardly believe you were describing the same person.
You bought all the job-hunting books in the bookstore and decided it was more profitable to write books than look for the job. You told people how happy you were that you had a little free time to pursue more fulfilling goals.
You made contacts.
The first week was fun. No demands. No boss.
But this week it's harder to get out of bed, and your only contacts are with the refrigerator repairman and wrong-number phone calls. You wait for the postman with expectation, your heartbeat quickening when you see him two doors away.
Those close to you -- with your best interests in mind -- want to know what you've been doing all day. And if you have all this extra time, why haven't you a) cleaned the bedroom, b) done the laundry, c) raked leaves, or d) all of the above?
And here you are on Monday morning still very sleepily lying in bed. What are you going to do?
Job loss isn't far behind death of a spouse or divorce on the scale of stress-producing life events. Otherwise warm, rational human beings can become monsters unfit to live with (just ask their friends and families).
Quite obviously, something more than the loss of a regular paycheck causes the unemployed to cry uncontrollably for three days, go on shopping binges or snap at the people they love. in a society where work is defined as "man's strongest tie to reality" (Freud), most people are unprepared for the psychological trauma of unemployment.
"Job loss in many cases is only mildly traumatic compared to what follows: searching for new jobs and . . . being rebuffed by new prospective employers," says Louis Ferman, research director of the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University in Ann Arbor.
"These are the events that try the patience and sanity of most workers."
For Richard Irish, author of "Go Hire Yourself an Employer," six months of unemployment "was easily the most painful period in my life.
"The symptoms of the unhappily unemployed are obvious to everyone, particularly employers: hostility, self-pity, weariness and a predilection for apocalyptic solution.
"At least I showed all the signs: I developed a lively hostility to personnel people, systematically studied scientific socialism, sought consolation in Tchaikovsky's 'Pathetique' symphony; ate repeated meals of yogurt and garbanzo beans, frequented public libraries and stockbrokerage houses (warm spots for job seekers wishing to come in from the cold), and developed a fine existential philosophy."
One unemployed microbiologist went on book-buying binges and was seen reading "The Zen of Drawing" while standing in line at the unemployment office.
The newly unemployed may have a problem with recognition, or the lack of it. An editor who was laid off from a consulting firm says, "You get drained trying to constantly impress people at interviews. And you don't get much positive reinforcement. If you depended on recognition in your job, you have to find ways to compensate during the interim. I write letters to the editor."
Unemployment is a time-management problem. Goal-oriented people who functioned well in an organizational structure are suddenly without any goals. Those who were careful planners while employed become distraught and fritter time away when unemployed.
The unemployed agree that the transition from a structured day to complete freedom is difficult.
"I hated my last job," says an unemployed chemist. "I chose to get out. But before, at least I had a place to go to, people to talk to, a schedule. It's hard to structure your time after you're used to a 9-to-5."
Shopping is one response to the lack of structure. A woman who, after completing an internship, was unemployed for three months, says:
"I would shop as an escape from thinking about my future, and it gave me a little bit of power to know I could buy things, even though I knew I shouldn't spend the money. It made me feel like a part of the living."
Perhaps the worst part of unemployment is not knowing.
"Being unemployed," says Ferman "is, after all, a status. You can adjust to it. What's hard to get used to is uncertainty about who you are, where you are going and how you'll get there.
One young out-of-work professional laments, "If it were a three-month vacation I'd love it, but having no idea what you'll be doing in two weeks or two months drives you crazy."
For some people, unemployment can be a kind of vacation. Whether you are able to enjoy unemployment may depend on what kind of work pattern you have been accustomed to.
"Career pattern," says Ferman, "sets the background for being laid off and helps translate that event as quite stressful, relatively benign or even welcome."
But people who enjoy unemployment are probably younger. "During the depression," says Ferman, "the work ethic was so strong and the aversion to anything that could be construed as charity so firmly ingrained in most Americans, that unemployment carried with it a stigma probably not appreciated today by people under age 50."
Unemployment can be taxing to the friends and family of job-seekers. "I hate it when he does everything so well," says an unemployed graduate student of her boyfriend. "Everytime he plays his saxophone so beautifully I want to hit him. He's being very supportive, but it's almost like he's doing it all too well.
"Guilt is a big part of unemployment. I feel like I have to do my part to keep the house together since I'm not contributing financially, so I end up doing everybody's errands that they would normally get done themselves but they know I have the time. I don't know when to say 'stop.' I don't feel like I have the right to."
This support system may often be the critical factor in warding off depression and maintaining a consistent job search effort. A 33-year-old man tells of his three-month stint at unemployment. "At first I was embarrassed to admit to people that I was unemployed. Then I began to see that these people could really help me both emotionally and professionally."
David Jacobson of Brandeis University, who studied the effects of unemployment on friendships among middle-class professionals, thinks that "who is looked upon as a friend" changes during unemployment.
In nonstressful times, friends may include "close friends, casual friends, acquaintances and business associates. When confronted with the stress of unemployment, the criteria become more stringent. What occurs . . . is not a loss of friends or a deterioration in friendships, but a recognition that only certain relationships are relevant to . . . coping with unemployment."
Maintaining social contact is difficult, especially when many friendships are made at the workplace.
"When you go back to visit," says the editor, "everybody looks at you like you're going to crack right in front of them. Under their breath, without making eye contact, they say, very discreetly, 'Did you get a job?' They offer pity even when you don't want it."