When I was in the thick of unemployment, I couldn’t afford to go out to eat or have beers with my friends. I was also stressed most of the time and pre-occupied with where my next buck was coming from. I kept hearing people ask, “I know she can’t afford to go out, but we miss seeing her” or “She won’t even let us buy her a glass of wine”. In addition to all that, I often didn’t shower or change out of my pajamas.
When at the mercy of the unemployment office, the jobless can get sensitive about taking money from others, no matter how well-intended. It’s called pride. Pride can also cause them to slowly feel disengaged from their circle of friends. So what can you, a gainfully employed person, do to show that out-of-work pal that she’s not out of luck or out of love?
- Invite him/her over for dinner – An invitation for a home-cooked meal is a low-key way to make your friend get dressed and leave the house without spending money. Also, my UPiC (Unemployed Partner-In-Crime) and I used to make dinner for each other. We got to eat well by sharing the expense, and we had something fun to socialize over
- Drop by with an inexpensive bottle of wine – They may not let you buy drinks while out at the local watering hole, but home is a different matter. And go cheap so they don’t feel like they owe you
- Grab her for a walk or jog – A good gab session coupled with exercise is a great way to socialize, boost endorphins, get out of the house and loosen stress
- Give the gift of flowers – I’m not talking bouquets from 1-800 Flowers. I’m talking deli/grocery store blossoms. And before you think you’re too good for them, I once saw George Stephanopoulus darting across 14th Street in NYC carrying deli daisies (presumably for his fabulous wife Alexandra Wentworth). Brightly colored bouquets can help cheer up any job hunter or the job hunter’s cave (read: home)
- Just listen – No advice. No contacts. No “what I would do if I were you…” (even though I assume you will have gone through that exercise already). Just bend your ear for a while, offer a calming smile instead of tips and end your visit with a big hug or word of encouragement
How do I know these things work? Because my friends are awesome, and they helped make unemployment bearable for me!