Last week, I was reading The Road. It reminded me of unemployment and got me thinking about going vegetarian. Since then, I’ve worked a bit of meat back into my diet, but I think cuts with bones may always give me pause.
Anyway, the unemployment road isn’t quite as grim as the post-apocalyptic devastation in the book. In fact, I can honestly say that I laughed more there than anywhere else at any time of my life. Thought I’d share with you some of the ways I found to have fun on The Road.
I categorize these into two groups. Things to do that don’t mess with other people, and things to do that involve messing with other people or might kind of sort of be illegal. Ok. That might sound a little mean, but let’s be honest. The cheapest entertainment around is pulling people’s chains, only I prefer to call it “sociological research.” So here are a couple of lists. . . .
Fun Things to Do That Don’t Really Mess with People
- The most obvious is getting together with your friends and pooling your edible resources for dinner. Grilled cheese sandwiches go really well with the five year old applesauce someone had in the back corner of the pantry.
- Pool your drinkable resources and let the singing, dancing, drumming, and laughter commence. Do this in public places, and people might even give you money.
- Rediscover doodling. All it takes is a pen, a piece of paper, and a lot of boredom.
- Take the chance to educate yourself and go to the zoo and museum free days in your area. If you want to go, and it’s not a free day, call ahead and talk with the manager. Tell him you’re unemployed and can’t pay, and ask him if you can come anyway. You might mention you’re applying for a job that requires you to know a lot about Egyptian mummies or the history of cereal boxes, or whatever, and it would really help you to review their collection. Hey. You never know when you might need to doodle up that Quisp alien for a job interview, right?
- Collect anything you can part with and go in with your friends for a booth at the open air flea market. For you flea market noobs, here’s how it’s done. Do not price your items. Have an idea of what you want, and then watch the crowd. If it’s early in the day, and someone makes a beeline through two toddlers and an old lady to get to your table, increase the price accordingly. If it’s the end of the day, and someone has a nominal interest, take the minimum. Just give it a try. You’ll get the hang of it.
- Cut your hair and make jewelry out of it to sell at said flea market. It’s actually a time-honored art (see below).
Fun Things to Do That Mess with People or are Sort of Maybe a Little Illegal, aka Sociological Research
- Pair up as a couple and pretend to be Big Daddy gambler and his Little Darlin’. Dress casually, but cleanly, and be confident. Many people with real money, and I mean REAL money, don’t give a crap what they’re wearing as long as it’s clean and comfortable. Go to the Lexus dealership, and tell them you’re looking for a car, you’re going to pay cash, and you want to test drive the best they’ve got. You plan to head to Atlantic City tomorrow, and you really don’t want to go through the TSA grope again. Enjoy riding around in those fancy cars all day. Be sure to sneer at any cheap, plastic trim, and indulge in all of the coffee and pastries they’ll bring you. Oh. And pick the designer interior before you walk out without leaving your number. . . . Yes, I’ve done this, and I can tell you, the salesmen will drool. Just be careful not to break character under any circumstances.
- For ladies, you can do a similar thing with jewelry, but you don’t need to be as elaborate. Just act like you belong there as you try on those $50k jewels. Ask about their Buccellati collection, and be sure to get the clerk’s business card. (Had great fun doing this with my daughter just the other day, in fact.) If you like looking at beautiful, high-end jewelry, click here for their collection.
- Put on those clothes that you’ve been washing with soap you stole from a public bathroom because you can’t afford laundry detergent. Have a contest with your friends to see who can scare the most people into locking their cars doors by just walking past them. No fair making gestures or mean faces, other than the mean faces people get when they can’t afford soap, that is.
- Build a fire in a barrel and throw in different stuff you find in it to see what happens. You can do the same in a metal bowl in your house if you don’t have a barrel or a yard. I found Vitamin E pills are kind of cool for this. You can see the stuff inside the capsules bubble a while just before they pop. Keep your face back, though. Use your cheap sunglasses as eye protection, and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
- And one of my personal favorites . . . tie a long thread of fishing line to an old purse. Leave the purse beside the road and hide, holding the other end of the line. When someone stops to pick up the purse, wait until they’re bent over and their fingers are almost touching it, and pull it just out of their reach. See how long it is before they figure out they’re being punked, and then enjoy a good belly laugh. One caution, though. Some people can get really pissed off by this one so be ready to run like hell if you have to.
You see? Just because you’re on The Road, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
All the best to all of you for a week of cheap fun.
Piper Bayard—The Pale Writer of the Apocalypse
I love sample days at Costco and the grocery stores. By the time you finish walking up an down every aisle, you are full. So yes, you could say there is such a thing as a free lunch.
An excellent example. I still tend to shop there around lunch time for that reason. Thanks for stopping by.
Funny bit of trivia: The Samples got their name from doing that. My husband and I had sample lunches often as grad students. He’s the one who told me that tidbit.
Awesome post, Piper. I love the idea of “build a fire and throw things in” but I’m thinking I’d better not mention this one around my son. Unemployed or no, he might get a little TOO creative…
Lol. I hear you. It was all I could do to get my son to move his homemade napalm away from the side of the house. I did let him have a magnifying glass and a kitchen tray to light things on fire when he was a kid, though. Thanks for stopping by.
I like that NO PRICING on the flea market stuff. That would absolutely drive those dealers nuts that try to come in and pay minimal at the START of the day!
Lol. Yep. Sounds like you’ve done this before. Thanks for stopping by.
You really rocked the road, Karla! Every “bad thing” that happens sure can be brightened by a good attitude, an attitude that puts things in perspective. Love the optimism this post creates. These are fun things to do even when you’re not traveling the road!
p.s. Hair belt = cool. Necklace = wow.
Hi Ellie. You know, a hair belt would be cool. My daughter just cut off 18″ of the thickest mahogany colored hair you’ve ever seen. I’ll bet there’s enough for that. Time to break out the crafting table. Thanks for stopping by.
I’ve never been without a job for very long. I used to be dissatisfied with working at Walmart, but now that I see so many people looking for work good old Wally World is starting to look better and better.
Funny how that is. For a bright fellow like you, I’m sure you’ll look back some day and see it as a pit stop along the way. As for me, I’m looking forward to being a greeter if this writing thing doesn’t pan out in the next 20 years. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
i once took a journey with a band of hippy ferrets who were masters of the inexpensive road trip. it involved digging to our destination, through the bottom of the sofa, and working our way toward the top
now, i usually do my traveling, heading south, you know, through the carpet to get to the basement, to the bottom of the pile of clothes, somewhere that if i get tired, i can just quit, take my nap, and then stumble out a few hours later, when i hear everyone yelling for me. i usually wait for the tenth yell just to put them in a frame of mind, so when they do see me all sleepy and crawling out, they are so happy to see me, they’ve forgotten i was on a trip in the first place.
but the hippies, they were digging up! they start at the bottom of the sofa, remove the crappy filament underneath, and work their way through the top, so they are digging north- quite odd.
so when i asked about this method, they all stopped digging… it was as if this was the first time the question had ever been posed to this freewheeling group. collectively, as one, like only hippies democratically do, they all just stopped right there, half way through the stuffing and the armrest.
and everyone huddled together, and decided to take a nap
now that was one heck of a road trip
LMAO! Sounds like a blast. And I’ll bet not one hippie remembers it, because if you can remember it, you weren’t there, or so they say. Thanks so much for your comment. Reminds me that another fun thing you can do without money is dig around in your couch cushions to see what you find. 🙂
OMG! I had a hard time not laughing too loud (I’m at work.). Your rich people suggestion reminded me of when my husband and I were grad students in DFW. We used to go to Nieman Marcus to window shop. It was great.
That’s a fun one, too. I do that with my teen daughter a lot. My friends and I also dress her up in prom dresses and take her picture. Fun for us but it gets old for her. And I had no idea how Samples got their name. Thanks so much for the trivia and for stopping by.
Uh oh, you might have to compete with Margaret Reyes Dempsey now for my soulmate secret roommate status! I have completed the potluck pantry, the throw things in fire will burn, and I’ve done similar character portrayals such as trying on prom dresses or getting all dressed up with your friends, order dessert first and drinks and tell the waiter “one of us has just been elected a public official, guess who?”
In my high school days, my friends and I overcame boredom by dropping a toilet on various people’s lawns each week and leaving other bits of things we collected at rummage sales. We called it the Traveling Toilet, and at one time accumulated so many my parents’ yard held 7 toilets, one urinal, one washing machine, a keyboard, and Caution: slow man running figure.
What a hoot! I love that traveling toilet idea. I’ll pass that one on to my teens as a harmless prank that has my blessing. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your very fun experiences. 🙂
(First check to see that the right avatar is showing. Okay, I see bluebonnets.)
This might be the right place to mention how, back around 1969, my roomie and I subsisted on things we could catch at the local jetty or in our garden. Until then, I had no appreciation of escargot.
Pssst. Make friends with waiters. Let them crash on your floor if they bring leftovers from their restaurant. Go to the beach next day to catch the next meal. Fun with poverty!
I see you’re a roadie from way back. 🙂 If you were doing that now, you could make a million as a leader of the subsistence living trend. But I’m afraid the fish at the local jetty might glow if they are West Coast, or be a bit oily if they are from the Gulf. I would buy your memoir in a heartbeat. Just a thought. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience, Texanne.