I never imagined that I would get laid off sitting on my couch. Oh sure – I knew I could be laid off for sitting on my couch, but never while. But this is how 2020 operates. All sense of order and decorum have been tossed out the window in favor of chaos at every turn.
You know the story by now: virus kicks down a nation’s door, makes itself at home, and renders the jobs of millions of Americans worthless. It does not matter if you are “essential” or not – we have discovered we are all expendable. Some industries were just forced to display their true colors a little sooner than others. And I wound up being another statistic.
After getting the professional version of “it’s not you, it’s me,” I should have been mourning the loss of my job and paycheck. Intelligent people would have immediately changed out of their smarty pants and into their adult pants to begin the responsible work of updating resumes and scouring job boards for new opportunities.
Me? I went to the kitchen to make a celebratory margarita. Receiving my walking papers meant that I could begin my dream job as a professional surfer.
Well, okay, maybe not quite pro. I lack the skills, Adonis-like good looks, and taurine-infused drink sponsorships to qualify for the WSL, QS, or even into a local SoCal comp. I have never even surfed in a competitive heat because I don’t want to waste a judge’s time trying to decide if my tumbling off a surfboard in hilarious fashion qualifies as a negative score or if the pathetic flailing displayed on my dismount was progressive enough to earn me an even zero.
But I am now not getting paid to surf all the same. It’s impossible to accomplish much in COVID times without running into a rotating gauntlet of restrictions, so chasing waves has become my main focus each day. By my aggressively generous definition, this makes my new job title no different than fellow SoCal pros Kolohe Andino or Courtney Conlogue. I’m just sponsored by the Employment Development Department of California instead of Boardriders Inc.
Then again, Kolohe and Courtney’s sponsorship checks are taxed by the state of California, and those tax dollars go towards the EDD program. Therefore, I am proud to announce that I am ALSO technically sponsored by both Billabong and Quiksilver. The talent scouts at Boardriders Inc. surely recognized my once in a generation guffaw-inducing wipeout potential.
My daily routine is now waking up to surf in the morning, soaking up the San Diego sunshine in the afternoon, and surfing again in the evening. This has always been my pro surfing fantasy – to spend my days doing nothing else except surfing and lollygagging on the sand. Sure, it’s not as lucrative as I had hoped, Taylor Steele never shoots any footage of me, and there is some anxiety about my contract with EDD expiring at the end of the year, but it’s a lifestyle I have long craved. I have finally become that guy who lounges around the beach on a Tuesday afternoon; the type of person that makes people on the boardwalk ask, “I wonder what he does for work to afford that kind of life?” As it turns out – nothing. He does nothing except surf. And it rules.
Unemployed life is all about perspective. I could sit here, wallowing in misery or crippled by the stress of feeling helpless since my job was ripped away by a worldwide pandemic, or I could concoct a wonderful lie to distract myself. And since the meager paychecks keep rolling in to fund my surf adventures, I think it’s time to make myself another margarita, because I’m still living the dream.