Had a smashing time doing the NPR show "On Point" this morning.  Tom Ashbrook was great, asked good questions and his staff was wonderfully supportive.

Best of all, I got to sit for my interview segment at Garman Productions in Oklahoma City. I’ve had the pleasure of working at Garman many times, recording everything from political commercials to the most blatant of commercial bits.  Steve Garman is one of the last of the great sound people.  He’s always kind, full of great suggestions and best of all, knows exactly what he’s doing.

He was shocked at my being out of work for so long.  Together we talked about common friends… and were surprised at the number of those who were either out of work, had a partner out of work or were working at jobs far below what they were qualified for. (Never end a sentence with a preposition but this is a blog and I can do it if I want to – again).

Best of all, he published what I did on Facebook.  I’ll take publicity for my unemployment any time.  You never know, in spite of the embarrassment, when something may come your way because of publicity.

After the show I spent a little time window-shopping at a local mall.  I don’t go to stores unless I have to so strolling through the mall is a questionable treat.  It’s tough to see the things for sale; it’s more difficult to realize that you can no longer buy what you want when you want.  If I had a job or steady income I’d be single handedly stimulating the economy towards a growth spurt.  I could use a few new suits, shirts, occasional tables, several guitars (to replace those sold to pay bills) and lots of other things.

(Courtesy of Stephen Rhymer)

Then my friend Danna called.  She’d heard the radio show and thought I might like a late lunch. That’s code for “I’m splitting work early, want to share a bottle of wine?” Friends like Danna are the things that keep those of us in the unemployment ranks from falling into the depths of unemployment Hell.  Was it worth a half a tank of gas and the turnpike toll?  It was, to quote MasterCharge, priceless.

We met at one of my favorite Tulsa bistros, ordered a little food and got straight to the wine… a very nice Shiraz.  Sometimes it helps to keep things in perspective – there are days when a dear friend and a good bottle of wine is the best way to spend some time and certainly worth the cost of the drive.

Friends are what keep me going. They are my lifelines to the real (employed) world. They help me keep my sanity and feel like a real human being. Sometimes it’s meeting in person, sometimes it’s a phone call or texts. We don't talk about not working – we talk about normal stuff.

My friends make sure I don’t go without the small things that make like so incredibly wonderful.  Best of all, they make me feel normal even when they pick up the tab.  My friend Steve always says, “you’ll get it next time.”

At this point he has more confidence in my ability to get a job than I do.

I hope I can pick up a check soon.

(I also have to thank my ex-mother-in-law.  Whenever she calls me to do something for her, I can count on her giving me a tankful of gas for my “trouble.”  No matter she's done so much for me over the years. A tank of gas is surely more than “a little something.” It's another priceless gift.)

Danna and I feasted on two bottles of great wine, some terrific food and a lovely afternoon and early evening of conversation, laughs and relaxation.  Best of all, I felt like a normal person. At this point, driving 100 miles to Edmond isn’t an option so sleeping on a sofa tonight is in my future.

This Andrew Gold song has been running through my head all evening:

“Thank you for being a friend

Traveled down the road and back again

your heart is true you're a pal and a confidant

I'm not ashamed to say

I hope it always will stay this way

My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow”

Thank you all my friends.  You are the constant blessing in my life. I love you all.

Stephen Rhymer, a 59-year-old former public relations official from Edmond, Okla., has been unemployed for two and a half years. Read more about him here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

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