Ellen Hawley Roddick

Ellen Hawley Roddick
Orcas Island, Washington, USA
February 13
An author of both nonfiction and novels, I also am a freelance editor of nonfiction and a freelance writer of newsletters and fund-raising letters. I co-author clients' memoirs and, as a public speaker, address such topics as creative business communication and how to write a memoir.


Ellen Hawley Roddick's Links

No links in this category.
FEBRUARY 28, 2012 9:38PM

Out of Work in Santa Fe

Rate: 12 Flag


After I awoke that first morning of being unemployed in Santa Fe, I faced the day with dread. I'd read about what a nightmare unemployment is and wondered how I would survive not having a job and paycheck plus health insurance. Surely I would become homeless, and perhaps I would starve (I've always been something of a drama queen.).

But wait! After my first cup of coffee—which I drank sitting comfortably in my living room instead of rushing around my bedroom while I transformed myself for public viewing—I remembered COBRA. Under COBRA, I would have health insurance for quite a while, and I'd have it without working five days a week to keep it. Or even one day.

I poured another cup of coffee and popped another frozen waffle into the toaster. By the time I returned to my comfortable chair, snow was falling on the pinion pines outdoors. But snow held no terror for me, not when I did not have to go out in it and drive on unplowed streets. I regarded my slipper socks with an affection I have never felt for rubber boots.

Eventually I put on a cozy sweater and old jeans, skipping the makeup ritual. Time to read the paperwork my ex-employer had given me. A new boss had replaced the boss I liked, and the newbie decided I wasn't obsequious enough. She was—or so I had heard and had reason to believe—a junky. I actually wanted her to fire me, instead of my quitting, so that I could collect unemployment insurance. But when it actually happened, it felt to me like being in an airplane that hits turbulence.

Unemployment paperwork turned out not to be traumatizing. I would have not only COBRA health insurance but also unemployment checks. I decided to watch a Netflix movie. Sinful luxury—watching a movie in the middle of a workday.

The snow melted before the end of the week, and I went downtown and filed for unemployment insurance. It was humiliating—but not as bad as working for a junky.

Sooner than I had expected, the unemployment checks started arriving. One of the conditions for keeping those checks coming was that I actually look for a job. This sounded unsavory until I discovered that "looking for a job" meant that at the very least, I answer  help-wanted ads in the paper. Not a task beyond my competence. I called and sent resumes to the requisite number of employee-seeking companies each week and reported these efforts to the unemployment bureau.

As a result, I remained in high standing as an unemployed personwithout leaving home. It felt as if I were getting away with something. I suppose I must have been given an appointment by at least a few of the employers who turned down my application, but I was savvy at applying for jobs that sounded appropriate but that I was fairly certain I wouldn't be asked to interview for. And jobs weren't as hard to find then as they are now.

On my paid vacation, I had lingering lunches with friends, explored museums and other seductive Santa Fe attractions, read a lot of good books, and spent hours on the internet.

Not being an heiress of endless wealth, however, I eventually began to consider actually finding a job instead of just playing at it. And that very week, my old boss—the one who had been replaced by the junky—called and asked if I'd like the same job I'd had with him before but for his new employer. No interview required. I accepted gratefully and notified the unemployment office that I had found a job. (Actually, the job found me.)

It was tempting to send the nice folks at the Unemployment Office a thank-you note, but I decided not to push my luck.

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
If only everyone could have that much fun being unemployed. =o)
No more Junky (in more than one way) boss, and a new job with the good former boss. And it ended before real worry or hardship began.

I do hope that you saved the horseshoe you were born under. Luck like that must be appreciated.

Enjoy your new job! ;-)
A great example of how unemployment should work.

Loved the phrase about getting yourself ready for public viewing.
As a former Santa Fean, all I have to say is "pobrecita." Just kidding, dear. Enjoy yourself in the City Different. I wish I could do the same. I hope a good position opens up for you before the benefits run out.
OIC that you got your old job back with a different boss! Yay!
Hawley ~ a fascinating story and a rare occurrence of a job finding the job seeker! Sounds like a wonderful time was enjoyed during the unemployment period and what a pleasant and interesting area of the country to have this happen, too.
Whew, a thriller from Hillerman country! I always appreciate happy endings.
Based on your personal experience with unemployment is it correct to assume that you think it may do more harm than good? By harm, I mean sticking the next generation with the bill for people to live off the public dole, and by good I mean, a safety net for those in need. You made a bunch of statements where I think you will answer “more harm” but this is a liberal website.
Nice that it turned out like that Hawley. Another example of the importance of connections.
I experiences my "unemployed" year in a similar manner in St John's, collecting rent from the house I'd left behind. I loved spending my days attending book launches, readings and museum volunteering. What a sinful pleasure it felt like at the time.
Shiral, yes, I have no complaints.

skypixieo, the horseshoe I was born under sometimes falls and hits me in the head. But as you say, this is a story of good fortune.

Myriad, thanks. I agree with you and am grateful.

Miguela, "pobrecita" indeed. I always love your New Mexican stories.

designanator, who would have thought the City Different is so different one can enjoy being briefly unemployed?

Chicken Màâàn, thanks. I'm a Hillerman fan, too.

Johnny Fever, I don't think my experience negatively impacted unemployment. I had paid and continued to pay into it, and the unemployment checks I received were not as much as I have contributed. Moreover, because I am bipolar, I can't keep a job with people I don't respect and like, so the boss who hired me twice was a gift of good fortune for we were always friends. And yes, I'm a progressive liberal--one who believes the rich should pay at least 75% taxes on alll sources of income, but that is a different story...

Helvetica Stone, a welcome insight. Happy stories suit the times, and I'll try to write more of them.

Abrawang, abolutely. So often, it is whom you know not what you know.

Fusun, you and I seem to have a lot in common, not in the details of our lives but in the tales of our lives.
i can think of a lot worse places to be unemployed in and it's not like you don't have a lot of ability. i left my last boss 30ty years ago and haven't looked back. my friends in SF were all writers and artists. I imagine it is a great community to be a part of and wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a "salon" culture where lots can be exchanged.
Perhaps you did pay for your unemployment benefits but you are an exception. Jobless Americans have collected $434 billion in unemployment benefits over the past four years, while taxpayers have footed about $185 billion of the bill. Based on the following statements, I see this post as an excellent anecdotal story of why the system does more harm than good:

“Under COBRA, I would have health insurance for quite a while, and I'd have it without working five days a week to keep it. Or even one day.”

“I actually wanted her to fire me, instead of my quitting, so that I could collect unemployment insurance”

“Sooner than I had expected, the unemployment checks started arriving.”

“On my paid vacation, I had lingering lunches with friends, explored museums and other seductive Santa Fe attractions, read a lot of good books, and spent hours on the internet.”

“I regarded my slipper socks with an affection”
My favorite job-searching memories from Santa Fe were going to the Workforce office on DeVargas and following up on the leads posted on the board. Only to find out the positions were filled three weeks prior. If it had come to it, there's always the option of flying a sign outside of the Albertson's on Zafarano. Some of those folks make almost as much as if they had a degree.
Ben Sen, yes, Santa Fe has strong interconnected groups of arts and political activists. Your path sounds interesting.

Johnny Fever, point taken.

I. E. Merithew, you sound resourceful.
Where the heck are you????
happy for your good fortune.
Dianne, I'm in Washington state on the coast.

Maria, thanks!