Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Unemployment Routine

"To assist you in returning to work, we have scheduled a mandatory Orientation meeting for you on..."

This is the letter I received from the NY State Dept of Labor, threatening to halt my meager unemployment benefits if I failed to show up for an "orientation meeting" on Tuesday (April Fool's Day).

I only post this to help other people who might be dealing with a similar situation.

I've gotten into this cycle of doing these temporary film accounting gigs for a few months and then collecting unemployment while writing for a few months. Unemployment is a pittance and the latest rate I've been given is an obscene pittance, but this letter suddenly forced me to go out of my way to fight to maintain this obscene pittance.

A lot of film/tv production people live through these cycles of employment and unemployment. I've heard some horror stories about how the unemployment office doesn't historically understand the peculiar world of film/tv production, and braced myself for a difficult go.

And my anxieties were heightened when I arrived there. This was dystopian bureaucracy 101. Stand-behind-the-red-line-until-you're-called Culture.

Not too long after I arrived at the unemployment office on Tuesday mourning, however, my worst concerns were dispelled.

The little film camera icon on the upper right of my sheet separated me from the rest of the lost souls at the office. All the people with the film camera icons were gathered in a conference room dedicated to "entertainment industry workers". This made everything so much easier.

I wasn't forced to explain how this strange industry works in terms of getting jobs and ending jobs. There was a basic understanding that our industry is uniquely fucking weird. In fact, all we had to do was sit through a simple powerpoint presentation outlining all the resources the unemployment office had to offer us. And that was it. No one-on-one counseling session. No skills-assessment tests. Before long, we were all dismissed. In less than an hour, maybe.


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