Cover of "Hallmark" by Patrick Regan. “A century of caring” is one way of putting it.

This is a terrible idea.

And yet, they exist. Hallmark cards condoling with you on the loss of your job. It’s a sign of the times — the worst yet.

Millions of Americans are unemployed. They are toughing it out in these rough economic times, tightening their belts, responding to Craigslist ads for temp work as a Six Flags Zombie and generally doing whatever it takes. But they can at least console themselves with the thought that, as bad as it’s gotten, they have never received a card that says, “Losing your job does not define you. What you do about it does.”

I am not saying this because I am still nursing resentment toward Hallmark for its conspicuous failure to hire me as an intern years ago, even though the Break-Up Cards I suggested would have been a revelation in the card industry. Think about it, Hallmark! It could have been a revelation! Polite, yet off-putting! It would have made waves comparable to the discovery of those pull-tabs that play “My Sharona” when you open the card, then fall out, lodge themselves under your couch and do not stop playing it until years later in response to a Supreme Court ruling.

P. J. O’Rourke said, “Don’t send funny greeting cards on birthdays or at Christmas. Save them for funerals, when their cheery effect is needed.” Maybe this is a case of that.

But it was bad advice then. It’s worse advice now.

It’s a golden rule of life that just because a card exists for an occasion does not mean that anyone wants you to send them a card. Take Administrative Professionals Day.

There are Flirting cards, which say “Not only don’t I understand human interactions, but I also don’t own a telephone!”

There are “Try Not To Get ‘My Sharona’ Stuck In Your Head” cards. I bet those are the handiwork of the intern they hired in my stead.

But these “Hey, Carl, I hear you don’t have a job! Not only do I have a job, but I have the kind of discretionary income that I can waste on a $3 card telling you that this is just a ‘time-out between stupid bosses’” cards are really the limit.

It’s adding insult to injury.

“I just bought you a card to say how sorry I was you didn’t have a job.”

Maybe I’m wrong. If so, tell me in the comments, which I tend to read in binges when I need to get rid of excess self-esteem that is weighing me down.

Do they have cards for when your home gets foreclosed, too? “Think of this as a time-out between stupid mortgages!’” Do they have cards for when you declare bankruptcy? “You aren’t bankrupt. Your bank account is.” Do they have cards for when your wife leaves you but the card-giver thinks you really had it coming? “Like those rock mallets that cavemen used to open oysters, you’ve been a tool for a while.” At this rate, if they don’t, they will soon. Someecards already does, although they have the advantage of knowing they’re joking.

Does Hallmark ?

At least your Social Security card will get you benefits. These cards don’t have any benefits at all, although if you take it to retailers they might offer you condolences on your choice of friends.