It’s Time to Consider Plan B, Whether You Want to or Not

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Lately, plenty of writers seem to be trying careers on for size that don’t involve them sitting in front of a computer, and it’s not because they want to be the next George Plimpton. Everyone knows that their pink slip could be next (people in publishing especially). So, if you’re out of work, or on the brink of being out of work—and who isn’t nowadays?—there’s no shortage of stories to read about other people’s layoffs and Plan B career attempts. And while reading about someone else looking for a job might seem even more of a grind than looking for one yourself, misery loves company.

A New York Times writer tested about a bunch of new careers, including becoming a dog masseuse. As I see it, the fact that such a job exists is a sign of one of two things: 1) The economy can’t be doing all that bad, since people are willing to pay for their dogs to get a rub down. Or 2) Civilization as we know it is coming to an end, Roman Empire style.

In the July issue of Esquire, one of the mag’s editors tells of his experiences applying for more than 300 jobs (exterminator, Chuck E. Cheese manager, cruise ship housekeeper, Adidas salesman, Yankee Stadium security guard) over the course of six weeks. I’m sure the story was thought of as a lark—what’s funnier than unemployment, after all! The takeaway, unsurprisingly, is that finding a job isn’t easy, and the humbling desperation one experiences while job hunting is no joke.

Real Simple, in its June issue, takes a more straightforward, unamusing yet semi-inspiring approach, as you’d expect. The profiles of five women who have been laid off are worth reading to commiserate, if anything. One woman, a book publishing executive who’d been with her company for nearly three decades, says she felt like Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Lately, I think a lot of people understand what she means. Too bad Willy didn’t make more of an attempt at some Plan B. He probably would have been a great manager at Chuck E. Cheese.