Yesterday afternoon at the office, we got our weekly call from Mitch*. I only mention this because Mitch was unceremoniously fired early last summer. I know this because, at that time, I was asked to take over his duties – in addition to my full-time position.
Mitch calls all the time to gloat about his copious amounts of free time. The purpose of this particular call was to brag about the summer he plans to spend bumming around in Southern California.
A 32 year old, college-educated professional, Mitch is one of a few people I have come to know that has chosen not to work. He just doesn’t want to. So he relys on handouts, government aid and education grants to get by.
His whole situation just pisses me off.
Please understand. My wrath is not targeted towards those who are forced to stay at home (ill persons, unemployed folks), need to remain at home (family caregiver, Stay-at-Home Mom/Dad) or people who have earned their stays at home (retired people). Rather, my gripe is with those who just don’t feel like working.
Here’s another story:
A few years ago, in my first apartment, I lived across the hall from a woman named Ada. Ada looked to be somewhere in her late forties. Despite suffering from an alleged and ever-changing set of maladies, she still found ample time and energy to skip into Manhattan (1 hour away) every day to work out and shop.
She lived off of disability payments and a generous allowance she received from a mysterious married man in California. (Ada was proud to tell me, on more than one occasion, that she was his long-time mistress.)
I would do everything in my power to avoid her, even to the point of considering using my first-floor bedroom window as a makeshift entryway. Why, you ask? This is how a typical encounter would go with her.
Setting: New Jersey
Date/Time: Weekday, After 7 p.m.
Ada: (Calling from her doorstep, walking over) Hellooooo, Teeee Jaaaay!
(I fumble with keys, briefcase, purse, six bags of groceries and manage to force myself in, barely managing not to christen the carpet with chicken breasts and jug of Snapple.)
Me: (Dejectedly) Hi, Ada.
Ada: (Sashaying past me and my bag-laden arms through the door of my apartment) May I come in?
(Ten minutes pass. I’m forced to make small talk while my just-purchased frozen yogurt drips all over my counter.)
Me: Ada, I’m afraid to cut this short. I’ve been at work since 7, I’m kinda tired and hungry…
She would then spend the next twenty minutes doing the following:
- Detailing the purchases she made at Pottery Barn
- Probing me for advice about an outrageously expensive laptop her adulterous benefactor planned to buy her
Inevitably she would end these little gab sessions by giving me some version of this speech:
Ada: TJ, I’m just so tired. And, you know what? I’m tired of giving. All I do is give, give, give. Why can’t society do something nice for me for a change?
I literally have to choke back the bile in my throat when I think of these folks. Why do they have it so good? What I would give to spend all day sitting on our smooshy leather couch, watching Days of our Lives, ordering crap from Pottery Barn and planning the gourmet meal I plan to whip up!
But then I think: Is that really that I want – to do nothing, to give nothing?
Nope. I guess a life of leisure isn’t for me.
Well, I’m off to bed. I’ve got work tomorrow.
* Names have been changed.