I initially wrote this and sent it to the McSweeney's folks to be considered for their Open Letters section. I did so a while ago when I first thought I was losing my unemployment, but then they gave me another extension (yay!). Now that I'm slowly making a better and better living as a freelance writer, I believe my time with unemployment will very soon be over. And since this letter is too long—and probably not GOOD ENOUGH—to be posted on McSweeney's website, the Almy gets my leftovers.
Long live freeloading!
You probably wouldn't know it to look at how close we are now, but I was quite frightened of you at first. I had just been wrongfully ejected from one of the highest-paying day jobs I'd ever landed, and despite the praise and recommendations of my fellow 20-somethings, I wasn't convinced you'd be able to adequately replace the fast-paced and exciting world of retail inventory management. You were a foreign and confusing entity of which I knew little about. Even those close to you could not properly explain your mysterious intricacies. Now, at the close of our time together, I feel it necessary to apologize for my gross underestimation of your ability to make my life perfect.
I blame the fact that I was terminated a mere three days before Christmas for our getting off on the wrong foot. It was a hard time for both of us. I was getting ready for an excruciating trip to celebrate the holidays with my parents, a journey in which I'd no doubt have to explain the issue of being recently unemployed numerous times to many equally disappointed individuals, and you were most likely getting ready for the large amount of work you had ahead of you in the New Year. Let's face it; the economy wasn't doing us any favors.
But it was sometime after receiving my first check in the mail that all of that turned. You see, Unemployment, I was so scared that I wouldn't be hearing from you ever again after I had missed my phone interview with one of your co-workers up in Sacramento. The brochures you'd sent me said the interview was of utmost importance, and could make or break my chances of recieving your help. However, once your letter arrived at my apartment in spite of my negligence and ever-present forgetfulness, I knew we were going to have a great time together.
I'll keep my gushing short, Unemployment, since I know you have many people to attend to, but I have much to thank you for. Foremost, I wouldn't have been privy to the endless amount of free time which helped uncover my love for writing, nor my ability to earn money doing so, were it not for you.
It was because of you that I was able to live my ideal life of staying home all day in sweatpants and slippers—leaving only for sustenance and to send you those letters reminding you that, yes, I was still in need of your aid—for over a year and a half. You also helped me catch up on a lot of great television series (that month we spent with the first five seasons of LOST was particularly enriching), and learn of the true healing powers of marijuana. But, as flowers blossom amidst compost and manure, the opportunity to retreat into the inner recesses of my mind—brought on by a lack of any work readily available on Craigslist or within a four-block radius of my apartment—revealed to me the power of the written word and my desire to harness it.
Unemployment, you were like a supportive college professor or, better yet, some sort of anonymous, Dickensian benefactor who saw potential in me though we had never met. And now, your impending withdraw from my life weighs on me. I feel like a baby bird destined to plummet to the earth upon being nudged from the nest of your consistent checks and multiple benefit extensions. Yet despite all of my fears of inadequacy and failure, I'm happy to leave your embrace. I will always miss you, Unemployment (pasta dinners, embarrassing moments with new acquaintances, confusing paperwork, and all), and you should know that I could not have found my life's true path without you.