Unemployment Olympics meant to lift spirits of jobless

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

NEW YORK — Who hasn't secretly wished he could pin the blame on his boss? Or slam office equipment against the pavement?

Dozens of unemployed people got the chance to do exactly that during the tongue-in-cheek Unemployment Olympics on Tuesday.

In a twist on the classic game Pin the Tail on the Donkey, participants pulled a hat over their eyes and spun around before using a pushpin to attempt to Pin the Blame on the Boss. Those who missed the target sometimes hit some of the other options scrawled on the colorful sign: The War, ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages), Consumer Spending, The FED and The Economy.

The Manhattan event, organized by a laid-off computer programmer, was decidedly low-tech, with most games arranged with the help of cardboard, children's paint and chalk.

Competitors also played a game of Office-Phone Skee-Ball, hurling a black phone toward chalk goal marks on the pavement. A group of schoolchildren from nearby cheered them on.

Prizes were offered by merchants from the surrounding Lower East Side neighborhood.

Nick McGlynn was among those who lined up at Tompkins Square Park in front of a cardboard hutch labeled with bright green paint as the Unemployment Office, where participants were required to show proof they had lost their jobs. The 26-year-old, who worked with video for Gawker Media until he was let go in November, said he was thrilled to have something to do besides searching the Internet and updating his blog.

The gaiety of the event was enough to make Maria Tapia smile, a welcome relief from the anxiety that accompanied her layoff in January from a job as a finance executive's personal assistant.

"I never knew that I wanted a job this bad until I didn't have a job," Tapia said.

But at least at these simple games, "people are trying to look at it in a positive way," she said.

The organizer, Nick Goddard, said that sort of reversal was pretty much his aim: "Just to get unemployed people psyched that they're unemployed," he said.

That might be pushing it for 36-year-old Gary Ross, standing at the park outfitted for a race just a few weeks after being told he was losing his job as a lawyer working with capital markets.

"I did read the other day that all the cool people in New York are unemployed and looking," he said. "For the first time in my life I'm cool. Hopefully I won't be cool for long."


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Ray Shapiro April 1, 2009 | 4:09 a.m.

What's next? Special Unemployment Olympics?

(Report Comment)
M L April 1, 2009 | 7:52 a.m.

Ray, not even close to being funny.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 1, 2009 | 8:35 a.m.

Or better yet how about "Bowling for Food Stamps" because with the way our economy is still going and the amount of time it is going to take to get it back on track after the last 8 years of deterioration and depreciation alot of folks out of work will be stepping up to that line son enough.

(Report Comment)
John Beaumonte April 1, 2009 | 8:46 a.m.

Ray and Chuck - a couple of compassionate bookends.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 1, 2009 | 9:05 a.m.

Dude it is called reality man.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 1, 2009 | 9:12 a.m.

Chuck and Ray can make fun of this situation because they don't have to have jobs..... They are on "the public dole". The fact is that both of them should be thanking all of these people that are out of jobs for supporting them when they did have jobs! It is sad to see such ungrateful people...


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 1, 2009 | 12:18 p.m.

No Rick, It has nothing to do with gratitude. You have no idea how or what I feel. It's gallows humor for April Fools' Day. You can think what you want.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 1, 2009 | 12:40 p.m.

Ricky Gurley we are not ungrateful by far as you so claim here. We just choose to not let hard times get us to depressed where we are not able to function.

The fact is we live in hard times every single day just dealing with the stereotyping you and others put upon the Disabled Community as a whole with your blatant and ignorant beliefs and accusations. If you stereotype one Disabled Individual you put prejudices upon all.

I know for myself I do hundreds of hours each month doing Community Service and Volunteer work for those alot less fortunate than I am. My door is always open to those who know where to find me when they are in need and that is over 200 Disabled Citizens in the vertical neighborhood I live in which is one of the largest concentrations of the Disabled Community in Columbia.

I know for a fact ray shapiro does the same. Often times we do this with out even a single thank you or anything at all in return.

If it upsets you we are "on the dole" as you so claim then why don't you and society give us both the jobs we would love to be doing at the pay we would need with out any of the hassles involved that cause our respective disabilities to trigger relapses in our respective and quite respectable recovery process.

The thing is though if we had those jobs we would not be as free as we need to be to do those hundreds of hours of Community Service work and Volunteering that we both do.

So which is the worse of the two evils I will ask here.

Keep on going through relapse after relapse of job stress that hamper/hinder a road to a realistic recovery plan or keep on doing what we do and provide our fellow citizens with hundreds of hours of Community Service work and Volunteering that often times nobody has the time to help with.

If you knew anything about Depression and Anxiety Disorders as well as PTSD you would know after a relapse the person does not quite ever come back to the point they were originally at before. It is something in the altered chemistry that disallows this process. Sure they come back but there is the damage done.

Which is the worse of the two evils.

Oh if you are so worried about any Disabled Citizen being "on the dole" as you claim just do the math and it comes out to roughly $.03 per day in your taxes you pay and if there are how many millions of people paying into those taxes the amount is even smaller you yourself pay.

Now if you average out the basic pay of the average Disabled Citizen divided by a average 30 day month is comes out to roughly $23.45 a day to live on per month that is payed to them by SSD/SSI.

Now if you figure all of the unpaid hours of Community Service time and Volunteering that is performed by those with documented disabilities and put that last number per day into that amount above that would equal out to far below any wages any employer would ever pay an employee,even a part timer.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 1, 2009 | 12:52 p.m.

When I made my comment about Special Unemployment Olympics, I was thinking about those who depend on Sheltered Workshops or those who don't work due to disabilities and layered it over the above "tongue-in-cheek" Unemployment Olympics.
Dark Gallows Humor.
Very Dark Gallows Humor.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 1, 2009 | 7:38 p.m.

Simply put. People that have lost their jobs in these hard economic times is absolutely not a laughing matter under any circumstances. And it is quite distasteful for people that don't have to work, and are supported by the past and present working man's tax dollars to believe that there is any way that such a situation can be humorous..


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 1, 2009 | 8:55 p.m.

Yea, sorry if I offended anyone.
Thanks for pointing out to me what's distasteful. (You also left out rude.)
I'll slither back under my rock now.
Hope you had a good April Fools' Day.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 1, 2009 | 10:26 p.m.

I am not intentionally trying to be hard on your or Chuck, Ray; or single you out. But there are families out there that are doing without. Children that are having to do without. Husbands and wives that are having to see their children do without. It's pretty serious, my friend. I have a hard time seeing any humor in it. And I mean from anyone, not just you and Chuck. People are resorting to criminal actions to try to support their families.

Hopefully we are at the worst of it, and things will start to turn around. And Ray, I am not trying to "knock" you and Chuck. I know that you have needs too. I would not be making fun of you or even Chuck, if the economy cut into your basic living needs. To me it is just not a laughing matter. We all deserve certain basic human needs. And we all deserve to be able to see our children grow up happy and well cared for.


(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro April 2, 2009 | 1:51 a.m.

The article above refers to the following:
[The gaiety of the event was enough to make Maria Tapia smile, a welcome relief from the anxiety that accompanied her layoff in January from a job as a finance executive's personal assistant.
That might be pushing it for 36-year-old Gary Ross, standing at the park outfitted for a race just a few weeks after being told he was losing his job as a lawyer working with capital markets.]
If one knew nothing else about America's economic plight, there is obviously an increasing problem in our mainstream economy and job market. It may even get worse before it gets better and hopefully people will survive their rough times ahead. Most will.
And, I understand what you are saying. When healthy, capable people are losing jobs due to downsizing or outsourcing they are experiencing a new found traumatic event in their life. However, the above article was about a group of people who put a spin on this, with their tongue- in-cheek sense of humor. At 4 in the morning, with April Fools' Day buzzing in my brain, I envisioned not only those who have been fortunate to have been part of richer times in New York, (where this "Olympic Event" took place), but I also saw gallows humor in it for those who have been hurt, cast aside, shunned, not accepted or not included due to a handicap which might make them less competitive or desirable in a competitive capitalistic environment.
Hence, my comment. (No one really expects gallows humor to be "ha ha" funny. I didn't find the article above to be funny at all.)
It's just an attempt to survive, cope and not see it as "the end of the world." (Even if it feels like it is.)
And it should be obvious by now, that to imply a lack of compassion or being an ingrate, on my part, will always get me riled up.
Nuff said?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 2, 2009 | 4:12 a.m.

People have been losing their jobs for years Rick this is nothing new at all.

People all over the world have been doing with out for years too and this is nothing new at all.

Children have been going with out for years too and this is nothing at all new and I am a first witness to that fact in my own childhood so I know how it has been and how it is.

There is nothing new about this subject under the sun.

It is not the fault of ray nor myself that we are disabled that is a fact. It was a natural occurrence as the same with the vast majority of Disabled Citizens around this world. We know first hand the facts of hardships more than most.

We live it daily.

It is not the fault of ray nor myself either that those people who have lost their jobs cannot provide nor keep providing for their children.

I have to ask pointed questions at this point:

Were these now jobless people living with in their means or outside of their means so far their sense of security was a falsehood?

Did they actually prepare for hard times?

Did they even come to think that yes "it could happen to them"?

Did they have back up plans in place at all?

My guess to all of the above is a huge "NO".

ray was obviously having fun with April Fool's Day by all of his postings on this site and this thread the same as my post was meant to be too.

The fact remains Rick when you or anybody come here and spout your dribble about being "on the dole" as you put it you did group all "Disabled Citizens" into one lump sum whether you realize it or not.

At the same time you totally neglected to put the real blame where it truly belongs upon those who were obviously not prepared for this tough,fading and hardship type of economy we all are living with.

This subject of job losses,people doing with out and children going with out is nothing new as I presented. This has been going on since time began itself. It is just this time those high and mighty citizens got caught with their pants around their ankles.

What is the old saying someone once proclaimed long ago when the "elitists" were brought down to the level of the common citizen:

"How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!" I believe is how it was said.

Rick for those who have only known real hardship all of their lives,life itself is a daily battle. Some you win and some you lose and some you only hope to break even.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 2, 2009 | 7:37 a.m.

What are YOU worried about losing, Chuck? I mean your residence is paid for. Your lights are paid for. Your food is paid for. You are single. You are not supporting any children. You don't have to work, as evidenced by your blogs, your continuous posts here, on the Columbia Tribune, and on the Beat Board.

So tell me Chuck; what is it that you are battling so hard not to lose?

Real easy for a man that is supported by the state to make such a statement, Chuck.....

You should be ashamed of yourself for even posting on this topic. The fact of the matter is, you are too ignorant to even understand why. At least Ray is smart enough to understand how some people can be offended by others making light of the unemployment situation.

You post like you have done something by keeping your head above water in these tough economic times. The fact is that the state and all of it's hard working tax payers have kept your head above water for you in tough economic times! Now, some of these hard working tax payers are starting to "drown", because they have been holding your non-swimming butt up in the water so long that they have not been able to put back money for such times as these. And you make fun of them. You have no shame!

What would you do if you had to pay all of your bills just like the PRODUCTIVE members of society do? Pay FULL rent. Pay for your own food without the use of food vouchers. Pay your electric bill. You'd have "sunk" a long time ago! You couldn't make it without the "government forced generosity" of others!

I am not affected by the unemployment situation at all (as a matter of fact I make more money when the economy is bad than when it is good), but my heart goes out to those that are. And instead of making your shameful post about how tough life is, when you really have no idea, you should be thanking the people that have contributed to your living and sympathizing for those that are having it tough right now!


(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 2, 2009 | 8:06 a.m.

Spending "hundreds" of hours a month volunteering is admirable, but if someone can do that, then he or she clearly is mentally and physically capable of putting in 160 hours a month at a job like the other 90%-plus of working-age adults.

(Report Comment)
M L April 2, 2009 | 8:55 a.m.

One sentence Chuck says,
>>>>My guess to all of the above is a huge "NO".<<<<

the next he says,
>>>>The fact remains Rick when you or anybody come here and spout your dribble about being "on the dole" as you put it you did group all "Disabled Citizens" into one lump sum whether you realize it or not.<<<<<<

You can't have your cake and eat it to (or maybe you can?) It is silly to make a huge generalization one sentence, and then get mad claiming someone is making a huge generalization the next. Your tactics lose all credibility, instantly.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 2, 2009 | 7:03 p.m.

Matthew Laye that is the way Rick and others post here so why not just join the club.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 2, 2009 | 7:11 p.m.

Nope, that is a "Chuck Dudley Tactic", and... NO CREDIBILITY FOR YOU!


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr April 3, 2009 | 2:51 a.m.

Ricky Gurley nope that is your tactics of trying to intimidate others you have no power over. You lose once again.

How long with your manic episode run this time Rick?

It is called reality Rick and it just bit those in the seat of the pants who did not prepare for it in these bad economic times.

I guess you can ask those people "What is in your wallet..........besides plastic"?

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley April 3, 2009 | 6:16 a.m.

Ahhh Dr. Chuck, a veritable source of diagnosis for everyone he disagrees with. On the public dole, with lots of "therapeutic experience"... AS A PATIENT! LOL.

Chuck, you are one of the very few here with emotional problems, pretty much everyone else here is a productive member of society that supports YOU!

Can you say DEPRESSION?


(Report Comment)

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