Unemployed, Unmotivated, Unhappy

Unemployed, Unmotivated, Unhappy

Written by Nandini Sethi


Sitting on an uncomfortable park bench, I can feel the iron poking into my skin, all in areas I don’t want it to be felt. In fact, it’s so uncomfortable that I can’t even rest my arm where it is meant to be rested – the armrest. 

The newspaper crinkles beside me, making a noise beside me, as if reminding me to pay attention to it, give it the unfiltered attention it really requires. With a loud sigh I picked it up, flicked over to the middle page and skimmed through its contents – job profiles for the unemployed, for the broke, and for those who had nothing better to do with their time. 

I must have really looked like a sight. A well-groomed man, sitting in a crisp suit, ironed tie and all, expensive cup of bad coffee in hand, as he turned over the pages of a newspaper, looking for a job. Well, the rest of the world didn’t need to know that. 

An unsuccessful day of job hunting later, I went back home, dejected, only to return the next morning, to follow the same routine. Then again. And again, till the season had changed and the summer sun no longer forgiving. 

Over the two months, I developed little habits – purchasing bad coffee and cinnamon toastie from the café nearby, feeding the pigeons breadcrumbs, taking a walk by the pond, and pretending to look for a job on the park bench. 

Till I met an old man. He sat by me, peeking into my resume as I corrected it, for the tenth time, scoffing and rolling his eyes each time pen touched paper. “Is there a problem?” I turned to ask him. 

“No, just wondering how many lies you’re spewing to your family,” he said in a raspy voice.

“No offence, but please mind your own business,” I replied in a flat tone. 

“Do you know how many I’ve met like you?” My disinterest clearly hadn’t fazed him.

“Excuse me sir, but I don’t want to know anything about any failures you have encountered.”

“Oh no, no no, you’re not a failure, just an imposter,” he explained. 

“Excuse me!” I said again, in a sharp voice this time, “you don’t know anything about me!” 

“Let me tell you about this young man I once encountered, right here on this park bench…” 

I sighed, knowing I had got myself into a mix, despite my persistent efforts not to. 

“He was young and bright, just like yourself, always ready with a suit and tie and all that.” He paused, for I’m guessing dramatic effort. 

“He would come here every morning after lying to his wife, his kids, his parents, telling them he had a job, when in reality he had been sacked and he had nowhere else to go.” Another dramatic pause. “Well let me tell ya, it cost him, cost him big time… I remember him down and dejected one day, no usual coffee in hand, no bread to feed the birdies,” he took a deep breath, “I knew it had all gone wrong for him when one day his wife surprised him with lunch at office, only to find out no one had any record of where this man was.”

“When he returned home that night, his parents suspected he was an addict – drugs or alcohol, I can’t recall, his kids thought he was a fraud, and his wife accused him of cheating. Safe to say, overnight he lost everything, most importantly he lost trust, and that’s why he lost his family.” 

I looked at him, wide-eyed and mouth agape, not realizing when I got so invested in this tale. “The poor man moved out and only saw his family on the weekends after that, and because he lost his motivation, he could only find a job that he didn’t care for,” he cleared his throat, “and that was that.”

“Well what happened then? Did you ever meet him again?” I asked, eager to know, unwittingly realizing that I saw a piece of me in this strange man. 

“Yes I did, and now you have had the opportunity to meet him too,” he smiled at my confused expression, “that man is me, and soon will be you too…” 


Nandini Sethi
Nandini Sethi

Sometimes dolefully insightful, sometimes plain distressed state of mind, but always love. I think there’s a bit of love in everything we write.

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