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Life in the unemployment line

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Michael Escañuelas, Editorial Cartoonist

Michael Escañuelas, Editorial Cartoonist

One loses a small trace of dignity when working in retail; one loses a hell of a lot more when they are fired from retail. One loses all self respect when one can’t find a new job in retail because of a struggling economy.

But in these troubled times I did what many desperate Americans did – I turned to the government for free handouts. I am speaking, of course, about unemployment. Over the course of a year, I have been unemployed and for six months of that year, I was receiving unemployment checks from the government.

It wasn’t until about a month ago that I stopped receiving my biweekly checks after using all the money in my reserve. Luckily, the government stepped in once again and extended the unemployment benefits for many Americans, including me.

Of course unemployment has its ups and downs. I would argue it has more ups than downs; no one can argue with free money from the government. During my glorious months of receiving my benefits I would go out to eat with friends, pay my bills on time, buy my wiener dog cute collars and go to the record shop.

I was living the rich life. In addition to making bank, I was doing great in school. Not working allowed me to focus on my studies. In the fall of 2007 I was attending Mt. San Antonio College and working at a GameStop retail store. The experience was terrible.

I would be selling Wiis to lunatic mothers and “World of Warcraft” cards to lame kids with bad breath by day and struggling to get my astronomy homework done on time by night.

Of course this is the story of many community college students, but it wasn’t the life I wanted.

Unemployment meant not just throwing money around like it was a German Mark. My bills began to pile up and the amount of money I was receiving was just not cutting it. I needed a real job and fast. Sadly that was easier said than done.

During the holiday season I applied for many jobs and got no call backs; I tried going into tutoring and failed to get any actual jobs.

My job hunt was falling apart faster than our country’s economy.

My spirits were low and watching the news and seeing all these people losing their jobs with big corporations destroyed my hope of finding a new job fast.

My dignity was crushed when a job that I honestly did not like very much let me go without any reason. I never thought I could miss something I hated so much. In the end my unemployment benefits were a blessing and a curse.

The free money helped me in my financial situations, but really it prevented me from having any initiative to find a new job.

When the time came where I needed a job, I ran around like a chicken without head filling out applications for any store that had an “accepting applications” sign in its window.

Our economy seems like it will only get worse before it gets better, but at least I still have my wonderful unemployment checks that help pay for my Netflix.

So while I’m watching a movie trying to distract myself from my financial situation, it’s a little comforting to know that many people are in the same boat as I am. That’s possibly one of the worst lasting morals ever.

Michael Escañuelas, a sophomore English major, is editorial cartoonist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at

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