Severance sweetens summer

Share this:
June 23, 2003 // UPDATED 10:51 am - April 30, 2007
By: Elana Centor
Elana Centor

Ex-hipster digs dirt and interviews for imaginary jobs

\"Working in software had its cache,\" said D.J. \"I was very proud of the company I worked for. When I ran into friends from school, I liked that I could say I worked for a multinational corporation with 70 thousand highly paid consultants. It was cool.\"

It had been two months since D.J. and I first chatted about life as a laid-off white-collar worker.

Entering his third month of unemployment, D.J. has found life quite different than he anticipated. \"I\'m really spending a lot less time looking for work than I thought I would,\" he said with some chagrin over an iced chai at the Dunn Bros., 201 3rd Ave. S., by the Milwaukee Railroad Depot.

Couple that lack of passion with a comfortable severance and why should D.J. panic. \"On average, I\'ve had about one interview each week. From what other people are saying, that\'s a pretty good clip.\"

D.J. still wakes up in time to catch his old number 6 bus, then he turns on his computer, checks his e-mail and some general and target job sites. If anything appropriate is available, he applies. That takes him to about 10 a.m.

After that, D.J. begins enjoying his time off. There\'s the garden, working out, practicing music and cooking dinner. \"I\'m as busy as ever; I\'m just doing what I want to do,\" D.J. said.

I couldn\'t help but notice how calm he was compared to the urgent and anxious D.J. of just two months ago. D.J. explained that he had arranged his finances to carry him job-free through the summer.

Last week, he had a brush with employment. After surviving two sets of interviews, D.J. almost landed a job. \"It was a great office Downtown. The pay was great,\" he said, \"and then I started thinking that if I got the job I would have to ask for additional time before I started, because I really haven\'t gotten everything done.\"

D.J. was the company\'s first choice, but he was never offered the job.

\"Turns out they were interviewing for a position they thought they would need if they sold a new contract. Evidently they didn\'t get the project,\" he explained.

D.J. had no idea he was interviewing for a non-existent job.

\"Someone else I know went through multiple interviews then was told they wanted to hire her but their contract didn\'t come through,\" he said.

D.J. finally contacted the outplacement service that was part of his seerance package, enlisting in a three-day seminar about keeping up morale while out of work.

Smiling, D.J. said, \"It really doesn\'t apply. I don\'t miss my job. In fact, I don\'t think I really want to do what I used to do. I just want to earn the money I used to earn.\"

There it is again. D.J. is struggling with the same issues as two months ago - should he work for love (as a professional pianist) or money? The jury is still out, and so is D.J. - in the yard, enjoying the summer.

If you have a good workplace dilemma or just a good story to tell, please contact Elana Centor at You can remain confidential, as can your company.