Idle Hands Make Hummus: A Rant

What is it like to have a job with Benefits? Really, someone please tell me so I have something to fantasize about as I lay in bed at night.

For the last 1.2 years I’ve been underemployed; i.e., I have an advanced degree, am in the prime of my life, and am only working 25 hours a week with no health insurance. It’s frustrating, but welcome to the club, huh? One of my friends had to have her gallbladder removed and has been having some complications. She’s missed several weeks of work (at a doctor’s insistence), and since she’s been at her job for less than six months, can basically be fired any time. And if she’s fired, she won’t have health insurance. It ain’t right.

I feel like Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman,” like: Geez, at this point I would literally be worth more dead than alive. I’ve been feeling this way ever since a friend (“friend”) pointed out that people’s student loans are forgiven when they die/ever since I consolidated my student loans and realized that if I pay every month at the current amount I can afford they will be paid off when I’m 51. I’m going to have a big Goodbye Student Loans party when I send off that final payment, a really classy party with flickering candles and catered hors d’oeuvres and everyone required to wear pantyhose and uncomfortable shoes. Of course, by then I will have amassed other kinds of debts, so it won’t be a celebration so much as the closing of a particularly finance-draining chapter of life.

Anyways, what I’m really trying to talk about here is idleness; particularly, how being idle is not good for you. In my time of underemployment, have I accomplished anything with the approximately 143 hours per week I have free? Have I written the beautiful novel of my dreams? Have I volunteered, Clara Barton-like, at the front lines of any local charities? Have I written earnest, frequent letters to close family members and friends?

Um, let’s instead talk about what I have accomplished with this free time:

-Made lots of hummus, stir fries, waffles
-Spent hours looking at the photo albums of various friends of friends’ who do not have very strict privacy settings on Facebook
-Took naps almost daily
-Stayed up late watching shows on Hulu, not even laughing, then slept in too late to accomplish anything the next day
-Hung out with my mom almost daily
-Acted as the female half  in a number of failed relationships

I guess I should end this post and come back when I’m feeling more upbeat. I really have zero to complain about. Well, health insurance would be nice, it would be nice to go to the dentist, etcetera, but I’ve got a lot of things to be grateful for: food, clean water, shelter with heat, electricity, family, friends, general health, and a killer right hook. All the things, basically, a gal needs.

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13 thoughts on “Idle Hands Make Hummus: A Rant

  1. I hope you might one day find the financial security you crave. In the meantime, I would say two things. First, it is good you have maintained your sense of humor. And second, you are right that if we have food, shelter, and clothing, we have much for which to be thankful.

    Now, go out and write that next Great American Novel and retire those student loans early!

  2. Embrace the SUC with me on 7 April (Springfield Urban Challenge)

  3. This post made me sad kittens, but I like how you talked about multiple subjects in just a small piece of blog. You should take all this creativity and make a book, and then just put it in the library and pretend you have no idea how it got there. Great writing, though, in all seriousness.

  4. You could use some of the 143 hours each week to start writing! You do it really well… I know that won’t get you health insurance but it might lead to health insurance… I will keep my eyes open for a full time benefits job for you (you don’t want to be a teen librarian in Maine by any chance?)

    • Ugh, I wish! I don’t know if I’m cut out for that particular position. Justin was a brave man. Is it posted yet?

  5. your list of accomplishments sounds more mid-twenties and less early-thirties

  6. Actually I saw an article recently saying that people in their thirties are somewhat more screwed than people in their twenties, economically speaking. Of course now that I’m looking I can’t find it but I’ll let you know if I do.

  7. The main advantage to working full time, besides the benefits, is not feeling so guilty about not accomplishing anything meaningful in your life (who has the time!?). Of course, the flip side is realizing that you’re going to do this until you die, having fulfilled very few of your dreams. So yeah, take your pick.

  8. Have a job with benefits is okay. Hummus is better. *shrug*

  9. If you had health insurance, you’d go to the doctor only to learn how unhealthy you are. This way you just keep thinking you are healthy…

  10. I got the hell out of Dodge for this very reason. Then again, I left my sweet 40 hour/wk job last fall to earn a Ph.D that won’t pay for itself anytime soon. Win some, lose some I guess.

  11. I know exactly how you feel, except my part-time “jobs” post-grad school were all on a volunteer basis. I can’t afford health insurance, and my student loan debt is beyond scary. Being unemployed or underemployed puts a big damper on happiness & productivity. I’m finally climbing out from my unemployment rock now, thank god, after living there for almost a year.

    Wanted to mention something else, too: you can get your federal loans forgiven after 10 years of full-time work in non-profit orgs (I think the definition is something like 30 hrs/week, but it doesn’t have to be consecutive years). I’m planning to take advantage of it, combined with Income-Based Repayment. You should check it out, if you haven’t already.

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