The days after a day job

11 Dec

Jeez.  I’m such a typical blogger.  It’s close to a year’s end, so – of course – here’s some more year’s end material.  Original, huh?

No, listen, I won’t bore you with sentiments of 2012 or anything like that.  What this time of year does remind me of is my last “real” day job I had.  I call it my last one because it was full time.  After this, everything was basically part time.  Anyway, I bring it up because I was laid off from it back in December 2008.  You know, when the economy basically went to (insert favorite vulgar adjective here).

And getting laid off was the best thing to ever happen to me.

Well, to start, I was working tech support/customer service at a marketing company.  So, I sat in a chair all day and had to put up with people call in all day griping about everything from how to work their radio controlled helicopter to how to play a song on their cheap MP3 player.  Yeah, we covered just about every crappy electronic you could imagine.

Micro_Remote_Control_Helicopter9dcStandardAbove:  Part of the highlight of my career as a tech support person was trying to figure out why an adult male is playing with a cheap $10 remote control helicopter that you probably know isn’t going to work well to begin with.

The job was one of the few where I also didn’t really mesh with my co-workers.  Not to brag, but generally just about every other day job I’ve had, I get along with everyone.  I kinda become friends with most people I work with to an extent – or beyond – just depending, you know.  There?  Eh, not so much.  It’s not that I didn’t like them, it was just – I don’t know – didn’t have the vibe.  There were a couple people there I hit it off with alright, but generally, it was kinda a drag to hang out with everyone for my nine hour a day shift.

The perks of the job were free coffee, soda and snacks.  I would raid their fridge every half hour or so.  Not only to catch a donut break, but also made for a good excuse to get off the phone for a bit.  I think they all thought I just had to go to the bathroom a lot.  Suckers.

So, back to my point.  I did get laid off.  No shocker.  I kind of knew it was coming when I was basically handling about three calls a day and stuffing envelopes.  In a desperate attempt to try and look busy, I’d start at my MySpace account and try to look productive.  Also, when the higher ups crept in and started to keep a written tally of what we all do all day….yeah, I knew I was in trouble.

Me and quite a few others were ‘let go’.

I was a bit worried that day.  I actually made decent money for doing what I was doing, and I had bills and rent to pay like most people.  So, what now?

I called around and it seemed as no jobs were available.

But then, I thought of something.  I can collect unemployment!

I never had to file for unemployment before, so I didn’t know much about it.  But, I did.  And I got a pretty substantial unemployment check (for what it’s worth).  I ran with it.

So….

Again, back to my point.  I mentioned this was the best thing to happen to me.  Well, career-wise, yes.

I took advantage of my unemployment (again, ran with it).  Yes, I’ll admit it.  You may think of me as one of those people taking advantage of the system or something, but you know what?  I earned it.  I’ve always worked generally two jobs at a time to make ends me and I’ve paid into it.  So, bla!  (If you’re not thinking that about me, just consider my “bla!” a kind gesture.)   Day jobs have kept me from hours of productive work at what I’m good at – sitting at a drawing table.

When this happened, I took full-advantage of cartooning.

2009 is there year I really honed-in on my career (remember, I was laid off at the end of 2008).  I spent well over 40 hours a week at the drawing table instead of a day job.  I worked like crazy.  I learned what quality papers to buy, the correct ink that works best, Photoshop, how to talk to editors, where to submit to, what works – what doesn’t and so on and so on.  I perfected all my basic knowledge in 2009.

And don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t an unemployed bum sitting on the sofa eating Chee-to’s.  Nope.  I worked my ass off.  I – of course – had to deal with the people that thought I was just lounging and not working, but oh well.

If it weren’t for getting laid-off, I’m not sure where I’d be right now.  At this moment, I’ve got a new book on the way, comics in the newspaper/online, MAD Magazine features here and there, greeting cards and I’ve been cranking out custom work for customers regularly.  2013 is looking to be a good year.

You must understand, I was a pretty lousy cartoonist up to this point.  I thought I was good – but I wasn’t.  I could draw and do a decent job.  Professional though?  No.  And this is all after my internship even with MAD Magazine.  I still wasn’t that great.

So it goes.  And now?

Yes, I still have that fear of having to get a day job.  I’ve mentioned it on here several times.  And even as short of several months ago, I was about to again.  And there’s still a chance in the future I’ll have to.  I never wake up feeling I’ve made it or that everything will be okay to the point where I can just work on my illustration and art and never have to worry.  Some successful people have had that feeling of not having to worry (I’m guessing Charles Shultz didn’t really think about having to do tech support for cheap helicopters).  However, in this day and age and economy – I have no idea.  I’d like to think it’s going to keep me okay and making enough like it is now.  But….

Still, regardless of what happens, I’m very thankful for getting let go at that marketing position.

So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, take advantage if you can.  God forbid you do get laid off or something if you don’t want to be – BUT – if a situation happens, hey, you never know.  It might be the best thing to happen to you.  The only thing I miss about what happened to me are all the free sodas, coffee and donuts.  I have to pay out of pocket for that stuff now.

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2 Responses to “The days after a day job”

  1. gardenfreshtomatoes December 12, 2012 at 5:39 am #

    Great post. If more folks took the initiative like you did when you were laid off, we’d be in a better spot now…My ex spent all of 2010 playing WoW and collecting, and isn’t in a good place now that he really HAS to find something….

    Still enjoying your stuff, even if I can’t ‘get here’ as often… 🙂

    • w101njf December 12, 2012 at 5:42 am #

      Thank you. Trust me – I had my days of slacking off as well (mostly when I was working two jobs….my cartooning was nil and I was out partying). I’m just glad I was able to capitalize on some time off the working world to really get my own career in check.

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