Laid-Off Workers Keep Up Appearances, Pretend To Be Employed

Earlier this week, the Washington Post shared the story of a man who tried hard to keep up appearances, and to carefully choreograph his routine so his friends and neighbors wouldn’t think of him differently. Finally, he tired of the charade, and outed himself. As an unemployed person.

After he lost his job, Clinton Cole continued to wake up early, dress in a suit, and leave the house. Instead of going to the office, he spent the day in a park or public library. While his family knew about his situation, friends and neighbors didn’t, and he wanted to keep up appearances.

“In this area, in the shadow of our nation’s capital, so much is about appearances,” said Cole, a carefully spoken man of medium height with thinning brown hair and tortoise-shell glasses, which he removes for photographs. “There was fear that other kids wouldn’t play with your kids. You won’t be invited to parties or be ostracized. Or that others would distance themselves from you because you might need help they won’t be able to provide. All those thoughts race through your mind.”

After about two months, Cole tired of the charade, and now he thinks that talking about it publicly could help him find employment and inspire others. He realized that those he once thought would shun him often reached out to help. Perhaps they saw a bit of themselves in his anxious eyes — just one severance check away from disaster.

The recession has hit college-educated workers hard, people who never imagined being on food stamps or even being unable to afford a summer vacation. The charade can be exhausting and sometimes expensive, and deprives people of job leads and other help the people in our lives can provide.

And only in America would someone think that they could “inspire” people by publicly admitting that they’re out of a job.

Lying Low After a Layoff [Washington Post]

(Photo: swanksalot)