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Forum Post: Let Them Eat Lottery--A dark take on unemployment

Posted 2 years ago on July 17, 2012, 10:24 p.m. EST by RLoRe (0) from Belleville, NJ
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Let Them Eat Lottery by Robin LoRé 1,391 Words

Hopelessly unemployed. Four months behind on my rent. An eviction notice pending. My boyfriend magically disappeared a week after my job did, my tenacity and courage went a while later. Life is nothing like the pages of the glossy women’s magazines I once copy edited. It was nothing like those pages when I worked for them either, but hey, at least I had a paycheck with benefits. I torture myself by reading them at the bookstore between job hunting on their free Internet tap. When I spot errors and insipid headlines I circle them in red and yell "ha, fuck you!" Miraculously, the bookstore has not tossed me out on my ass yet. Sometimes, I draw mustaches and zits on the models' faces to make myself feel better. I’ve reverted to childish vandalism for entertainment. It’s fun within my budget. Guilt and an overdeveloped sense of virtue force me to use my meager dollars to pay for the abused magazines. I take them home and cut them into colorful confetti to toss in the air when my niece and nephew visit.

For the last eighteen months my full-time job has been looking for one. When I couldn't find anything in my field, I started to apply everywhere. I'm not so proud that I won't wait tables, tend bar, run a register or clean an employed person's toilet to pay the rent. First problem is, I'm "not qualified." Second problem is, thousands upon thousands of other people are out of work, ahead of me in line, and they are qualified. Third problem is, minimum wage won't cover the rent on the lease that I signed when I had a job and my student loans. I can't put together security on a cheaper place and I have no place to live that is free. I've looked for roommates, signed up for apartment shares online and asked everyone I know if they have a spare room (or couch) for me, for a fee. I get the same story everywhere I go--sounds like this, "I had an extra room, but my sister, cousin, uncle, brother, son, daughter, ex-lover, friend...is out of work too and I'm putting him/her up for a while." My small savings has been reduced to near zero and my last unemployment check came two months ago, no extensions, no exceptions.

A noose is calling my name.

My newest recruiter suggests that it may be my attitude that is keeping me from securing gainful employment. I want to smack her. She has no idea that my current attitude is newly acquired and hard earned. Her uncle owns the agency she works in. Her life is exactly like the pages of a glossy magazine. She tells me to spend my last disposable ten bucks on something that will cheer me up. ”Positive attitude is everything,” she coos into the phone from her bitch office on the Upper West Side. Now I really want to smack her. Twenty-five interviews in which I oozed positive from every fucking orifice did not get me twenty-five jobs, or even one job. A staid attitude didn’t work on the following seven interviews either. “Maybe a lottery ticket?” I suggest. “No. You’ll lose. Then you’ll really want to kill yourself. That’s no fun, messy—I hate funerals. Try Kingsslist, you should be able to find a cheap thrill there.” “I re-invented the cheap thrill Jill,” I tell her. She sighs, “See! Attitude. I have get back to work, important client on the other line, gotta go, good luck sweetie.” Fuck you, “Okay, sure.”

Surprised to find a “free” link in my zip code on Kingslist, I vow to use the ten bucks for a lottery ticket after all. Free thrill and a lottery ticket—does it get any better? After the thirty-sixth fucking page, my fervor fades to a lethargic click—view—next. It is painfully similar to my job hunt. Maybe the next listing will be a coil of rope. Page thirty-seven. Third item from the top: Rose colored glasses, see the world in a whole new light. Absolutely free!

I meet the odd little man at a half-way point. His stunted, stocky, elegantly dressed frame is leaning languidly against his red, convertible ride. A gorgeous blond babe sits in the passenger seat chatting with him amiably and laughing with that "oh you naughty boy" tone usually reserved for two-thirty a.m. at Pub Anywhere USA. He is, apparently, very funny. He grins as I cautiously approach. “First time Kingsslister?” he asks. His teeth are perfect. “Yup. Guess there’s a first time for everything.” “Oh yeah lil sister. Truer words were never spoken.” He ceremoniously hands me the shades. “Thanks,” I say, wanting to say more, but not sure what. “Um, so why are you giving these away? They’re really nice.” And they are. Large, faux tortoise frames, like Audrey Hepburn might have worn, with—yes, they absolutely are—rose fucking colored lenses, not a scratch on them. “Do I need them anymore?” he asks as he gestures expansively with his left hand, palm up towards the car, or the woman, I’m not sure which. “I don’t know. Do you?” I ask with an eyebrow raised smirk. He winks at me saucily and gets into his car. “Enjoy!” He exclaims as he peels off in his hot red car with his red hot babe. And just like that, they are gone. I’m not sure what I expected. Lunch? A lecture about meeting strangers in parking lots? A job offer? I get behind the wheel of my own ride, a hoopdi-doo, baby blue, VW Beetle. I slip my free sunglasses over my eyes and head home. I feel a little Hollywood.

On my way, I purchase the newest ten dollar and a dream. Its silver and gold foil paper glints hopefully in the sunlight. I slip it in my purse for later. I slide into my driveway and head for the front door. A ludicrously large dead bolt hangs from the frame. I tilt my head, not really acknowledging what I am seeing. “Shit.” I look around wondering if the culprit is still lurking around somewhere. I don’t see anyone and look back at the door again. The bolt is still there. “These glasses are broken. Shit, shit, shit.”

I sit down on the grass on my former front lawn pondering my situation, trying to remember if I left a window unlocked. I gave up my cell phone months ago for a much cheaper land line; I wouldn’t know who to call anyway. Everyone I know is at work. I take the ticket from my purse, dig a dime out of the inside corner of my front jeans pocket and start scratching glistening foil. Instead of numbers and prize amounts two words are written in that particular hue of loser lottery gray. They read, “Around Back.” Like the dead bolt, I’m not really sure of what I’m seeing. I slide the rose colored sunglasses to the top of my head and look at the ticket again. Same words, still there. “Around back.” What the fuck? Have I just stepped into the Steven King zone or what? Like an obedient dog, I follow the instruction, because, what else is there to do? I can hope for the best. It’s an option. Maybe I’ll get a little of the divine intervention I’ve been praying for, cause hey, ya never know.

I walk towards the rear of the house via the concrete walkway and, God help me, but I’m whistling. Maybe there’s going to be a red hot, handsome, motherfucker of a guy sitting in a red hot ride just waiting for me “Around Back” with new kicks and a killer little black dress. Or maybe—a pile of money, a few bars of gold, an elephant carrying a circus clown?

Another dead bolt. This one is attached to the back door. I shake my head, sigh and look heavenward with a gleam of menace in my eye. Instead of divine intervention, tied to the center of the back porch beam I see a rope. It has a perfect slip to tighten noose at the bottom. Beneath it is a chair about my height. I remove my new, free shades, polish them with my shirt, put them back on, and claim my prize.

5 Comments

5 Comments


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[-] 3 points by jimmycrackerson (940) from Blackfoot, ID 2 years ago

That was a good read. It really expresses that hopeless downward spiral that accompanies long-term unemployment.

I went through seven straight months of unemployment last year. And not for lack of trying to find work either. It was most certainly one of the darker points of my young life. Though it did provide a lot of time for reflection connecting better with loved ones, It's still not something I'd want to re-experience anytime soon.

[-] 2 points by elf3 (2720) 1 year ago

Nice writing but want an ending where someone takes the ceo of a bank around back ...are we all so brainwashed we have been convinced it's easier to end ourselves than to wage war on greed?

[-] 2 points by Rollo (4) 1 year ago

Sadly, all too common.

[-] 2 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 2 years ago

Nice writing. Definitely "stand up" comic material.

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[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 1 year ago

we a caught in a world of efficiency in production

yet we do not know how to stop working

because the money and rent system insist that we work

when there is nothing that needs to be done

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