Yesterday I went to a volunteer information session. To start off, you always have to go around and say your name, what you do in grown-up life, why you're interested in the organization, etc. I've done this enough times to have a staple what-I-do joke ready. I say "My name is Betsy and my job is to find a job." People laugh. I'm pretty funny.
I do one of the first introductions, then listen as every single person after me also introduces himself or herself as unemployed — recently laid off, working part-time at a clothing store, whatever. From the little I gather about them, these people sound super educated. Between the five of us, we speak German, French, Mandarin, Spanish and Hebrew. I am the youngest and probably least educated person there.
In 2008, I left the country for a year just when our economy got really yucky. I heard a lot about the doom and gloom, but I wasn't around to see how the economy was affecting people's lives. Well now, here I am. Sitting at this table. These people are smart. These people have marketable skills. These people probably have plenty of solid work experience. These people do not have jobs.
On one hand, it makes me feel nice that as white do-gooders, we are all finding constructive things to do with our unemployed selves. By volunteering, we're making the world a better place, you know? But at the same time, I am remembering when someone told me "Just think. You don't have a job, and you have all these skills. Think about the people that don't have jobs and don't have any skills. You are much better off than them."