Spending time at home allows you to interact with a segment of humanity that remains largely unknown to people who leave the house in the morning, work all day at a remote location, and return home in the evening. Did you ever wonder who, exactly, drops off those boxes from UPS or FedEx at your front door? Or how your fuel oil tank magically becomes refilled on a regular basis? I know.

After spending years commuting and passing all of those gleaming brown trucks or the lumbering tankers that block half the street with a hose running from them into a house, I can now say that actual human beings are in charge here. It’s interesting to talk to the person who drops off the package (although he, or she, is always in a hurry and making notations on a clipboard – usually electronic – during the conversation) and to find out that they have a regular “route” and know the area as well as the postman. The fuel delivery guy (and I will say “guy” here because I have never personally seen anyone other than a male driving one of these behemoths or pumping fuel from one — although, I am sure that somewhere there are women who do this) is generally more chatty than the UPS driver. I think that this is because they have more time to talk while waiting for the truck to pump the requisite amount into the tank.

Having the good fortune to live in the country means that we have a rural mail carrier, who is a woman. Her name is Helen and she drives a Suzuki four-wheel-drive (you know, the model that government said would roll over at the sign of the first stiff breeze) every day to deliver the mail. I think it’s interesting that a federal employee uses a vehicle (it belongs to her) faithfully every day that was pretty well stiffed on television for being unsafe.


At this point you’ll find yourself with time during the day to do things that you never would have dreamed of doing when you were employed full time… like grocery shopping. I don’t know why I thought grocery shopping would be easier during the day than it is during the evening or on weekends when normal people shop. I had visions of deserted aisles and cashiers restlessly waiting to run your purchases through the scanner. Instead, the grocery store was – if anything – busier than it seemed on a weekend with, get this, retired people! I had forgotten that retired people eat food too! However, they mostly are friendlier than the crowd at the unemployment office.

Speaking of retired people, I did, fairly early in the experience, have a friend ask me what it was like to be unemployed, and, after thinking about it for a moment, told him that it was “like being retired without the money.” He made some nice clucking noises (it was over the telephone), wished me well and hung up.

That brings up another subject – friends. When you become suddenly unemployed you find out just how many friends you have in the workplace. I found that I had five who actually called me (and continue to do so) to “see how I was doing” and offer some words of encouragement. The rest of those bastards who phoned me incessantly during the day and prevailed upon me constantly for data, advice, expedites, answers, products, rumors, catalogs and more than my share – never called.


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