Here’s What You Can Do.
My temporary furlough became permanent last week, as it did for eight of my colleagues.
It’s been a full eight months since my husband and I had both had a paycheck. Which means one (or both) of us has been unemployed for most of 2020.
We are not unique.
We can easily name 20 people in our same position.
The pandemic rages on.
How to deal with it has become political.
Government relief has run out.
And people you know are caught in the middle.
I keep seeing this post circulating around Facebook:
“We are now a solid 8 months into this. If you are not working/not getting a paycheck/struggling to make ends meet and run out of food or necessities...please don’t let yourself or your kids go to sleep with an empty stomach. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I am more than happy to help. I will drop and go, or order for pickup. No one has to know and I will pretend it never happened. What's understood never has to be explained. I am dead serious. We were blessed by the generosity of others when we were at our lowest, time to pay it forward. Be the change you want to see.”
At first read, it’s nice.
But the more I see it, the more angry it makes me.
If you know someone who has been laid off and continues to be out of work, go ahead and assume they could use some support.
DON’T MAKE THEM ASK.
Your unemployed friend(s) should not have to wait until they’re desperate for groceries or rent money to know that you see them, empathize with their situation, and want to help.
It’s also not OK to make them feel as if needing help is shameful.
“I will pretend it never happened. What's understood never has to be explained.”
If your income has suddenly disappeared, there is NO SHAME in needing help. And you SHOULD be asking for help before you’re going to bed hungry.
If you are someone with the good fortune of finding the pandemic merely inconvenient while you work from home with your household income unaffected, it’s time to pause and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Support Your Unemployed Friends.
Reaching out on your own tells your unemployed friends that you understand things are tough for them. That your friend may need some cheer and love. And that you’re someone who won’t shame them for the financial position they’re suddenly in.
Email/mail them a gift card to a local restaurant.
Send them cash via Cash App, Venmo, PayPal and the like.
Do they have young kids? Ask what they want for Christmas and buy it for them. Even better, send it to your friend(s) so they can make sure Santa doesn’t have to skip their house this year.
Do you normally exchange holiday gifts with them? Reach out and let them know that gifts aren’t needed this year.
Ease your friend’s burden without them having to ask.
Anyone who’s lost a job this year is living with the uncertainty of when they’ll find work again.
They’re trying to keep as much money as possible in the bank for as long as they can.
Don’t make them wait until their bank account is empty to reach out for help.
They don’t deserve that stress.
And you’re a better friend than that.