Photo essay: Unemployment, August 2019, Greenpoint, NY
I’m writing this at a cottage by the sea. Some would say it’s quaint, as its located at the far eastern end of Long Island, to the north of the tony Hamptons. Earlier today we walked with our friends at a nearby boardwalk, where we found a few multi-million dollar yachts moored to the pier alongside a few lesser yachts, those of which would still cost a hefty 2nd mortgage to own. One of the passengers on one of the million dollar yachts disembarked to walk her two dogs along the pier. Of course my wife and kids had to make the “cute doggies” face as they proceeded to fondle the lady’s pups. Awkward moments ensue as the adults tried to make small talk with this woman while ogling the designer accouterments adorning the luxury back end cabana of said yacht. I was trying to ascertain whether this lady was actually the owner of the yacht, or merely on staff by sizing up the breeds of the dogs, and psycho-analyzing whether someone who owned a multi-millon dollar floating castle would actually walk their own dogs, much less interact with the common folk salivating at the sight of ostentatious wealth that was a plushly carpeted gangplank between them and infamy. Also, with the tech-fueled disruption of everything from the taxi industry to Lear jets, it wasn’t wholly ludicrous to imagine that some millenial entrepreneur had invented a startup that lets you rent a luxury yacht by the hour. Uber for yachts.
Anyway back to the cottage. I suppose when you allow someone else to book your accommodations, you abrogate any claims you might have had to what “quaint” means. In this case, it’s a cottage straight out of a 50’s beach movie with a view of the Atlantic ocean. Orange shag carpeted bungalow units with lacquered wood paneled walls and a wicker ottoman with pink cushions. One can easily imagine a retro-photoshoot for a hipster magazine based in Brooklyn or a Hollywood re-boot of a Twin Peaks movie. The wi-fi is really no-fi, and convenient USB-friendly power outlets are nowhere to be found. Thank goodness my Chromebook works without any internet.
This is the second half of our two-week vacation out east. The first half was spent in a bucolic utopian gated community with strong wi-fi and a Starbucks kiosk within easy reach. The time spent there was of my own making. Now in the second half, we are traveling with another family so negotiated itineraries are the currency of the day. My vacation is no longer my own. Much like my almost decade-long quest to return to gainful employment – to transition from being an at-home dad back to a professional dad. It hasn’t been easy.
All of this is a preamble to what I really wanted to write about, which was the state of my dis-employment circa 2019. Two months ago I actually took on a new full-time job. But I decided I hate this job and through some maneuvering got to take two weeks off right away. While on vacation I’ve been semi-hoping that when I get back, I’ll discover they fired me while I was gone. (Update: I’m still employed, but they scheduled my first shift back for 4 AM). The thought of returning to something unfulfilling makes staying in a cottage with a dysfunctional bathtub and musty odors sound kind of quaint.