Old World Advice

There are a few people who are very concerned about my unemployment status. My mom tops the list, but that’s understandable. She is in the camp of ‘find a job now’ while dad says “you’ve worked so God damned hard for so many years I think you should continue enjoying yourself.” I know mom gave him the stink-eye when he said that. Her latest was saying to me “times a ticking.” How is that supposed to be helpful? After several calls expressing her distress I finally laid out my financials for mom’s review. She stopped asking about jobs. For now.

My manicurist, however, is now on my back. Lisa is a year younger than me, originally from Vietnam, a divorced mother of three boys and one of the hardest working women I know. She owns two nail salons and is about to open a small convenience store. I marvel at her entrepreneurship and enjoy talking to Lisa about her businesses.

A few months ago I was having a manicure when a man in his late fifties walked into the salon to collect his aged mother. He wheeled his mom out of the store and then his sister, who was drying her nails near me, followed them out. This all took place in about 45 seconds.

Two days later Lisa urgently tracked me down. “That man who picked his mother up the other day likes you,” she said excitedly in her broken English.

“What man?” I asked.

“The man who wheeled his mother out of the salon with his sister.”

Honestly, I was jet-lagged after flying 16 hours the day before back from Istanbul and slightly hung over from happy hour with friends, so I barely remember seeing this guy.

“He lives with his mother in another state,” Lisa added.

“Dysfunctional state?” I asked but she didn’t get the joke. “And he lives with his mother? Seriously Lisa, I don’t want to date a man who lives in another state with his mother.”

“But he’s a good man who takes care of his mother. Where I come from that’s a good thing.”

“Well, where I come from it’s questionable.”

“I knew men in my village who took very good care of their mothers as they got older. They were very well respected.”

“Here’s the thing, Lisa, I’m looking for a geographic desirable who doesn’t live with his mother, father or unemployable adult children. Too much to ask for?”

My real mom recently said “I just want to see you walk down the aisle before I die.” Thanks, no pressure from the 84 year old. She too is clamoring for me to find a man especially now that I’m unemployed.

What is it about being a woman without a job that automatically makes people think you should find a husband in lieu of another job? I was never desperate to get married or have children so is finding a sugar daddy the answer? No, for me it still isn’t. I’ve always taken care of myself and would never expect someone else to. Do men ever get this kind of harassment from their dads or male colleagues? ‘Well gosh Bob, I’m sorry that you were laid off, maybe it’s time you find yourself a woman to take care of you.’ Doubtful.

Lisa has effectively become my West Coast mom wondering when I’ll get a job or at least find a man to take care of me. She has also suggested that I AirB&B my guest room to make some extra money. I explained to her that I didn’t have a separate entrance for the guest room.

“That doesn’t matter, they can come in your front door.”

“I’m not having strangers come into my home while I’m living there.”

“But you can make some good money to help pay your rent.”

“I have a mortgage, not rent, and I can pay it just fine by myself. And anyway, my homeowner rules don’t allow it.”

“Yes it’s okay to do it, they don’t have to know.”

“Lisa, I’m the VP on the HOA Board of Directors and there are only fifteen units, so yes, everyone would know when new people were traipsing into my home every night.”

This went on for several more minutes as we both became increasingly irritated with one another. Her old world advice was not jiving with my new world life. But I didn’t want to make her too upset since she was in the middle of cutting my cuticles.

I’ve been working since I was 15 years old and have no desire to stop completely, but why is it so difficult an idea for people to wrap around their brains that I’m ok without a job for a while?

A little more background on me. Six months before I was laid off, my oldest brother, a highly decorated retired Air Force Colonel died from brain cancer at the young age of 54. After 28 years of service he died just four years after his retirement. I tell you this not for sympathy, but to understand where I am coming from. After losing a beloved family member, well before his time in such a shitty way, losing your job is NO BIG DEAL. It truly puts life in perspective. I was living an extremely high stress, pressurized lifestyle for 17 years and it takes time to come off of that never ending Habittrail in order to regain your balance.

We live such “busy” lives and it seems to me now that I’m on the outside looking in that it’s really all for show. Whenever people meet each other — late as usual — they say ‘I’m so sorry, I’m just SO BUSY.’ Then they proceed to stare at their Stupid Phones so they can jump on a response for the next email or text that comes through or answer a call to talk to someone else while you sit there with your thumb up your ass.

I was guilty of this behavior to a certain point while I was working. But in the last three or fours years I started to notice how isolated (and rude!) one becomes when their phone is constantly distracting them from their real life. You see it in restaurants all the time. A family sitting together but not speaking to one another or the worst is observing a couple not looking at each other but at their phones for twenty or thirty minutes at a stretch. All are gaping at their emails, texts and games with little regard for the human across from them. I decided that once I met up with a friend, the phone would either go into my purse or upside down on the table. If I was waiting for a call or text I would first let the friend know that I may have to take a call or respond to email. There’s a video on YouTube called Look Up (http://youtu.be/Z7dLU6fk9QY) which says it all so eloquently about our antisocial social media.

Lisa recently called me to let me know that the older family had rolled back into the salon and asked about me. She had more to tell me but another call was coming through and she was very busy.

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