Who wants to stay at home on a weekday without anything requiring your attention, knowing that there will be no repercussions for not going into work that day? Me! For over twenty years, those days came around only during holidays, or vacation, or sickness. Then again, maybe not even during those times, since I knew that any time spent away from work meant more work, or more stress, once I returned.

For the last two weeks, I have spent my weekdays at home, trying to keep busy with hobbies, helping my wife get her business off the ground, and achieving all first place grand prix trophies in Mario Kart. Because of economic factors well beyond my control, I was impacted by my company’s need to reduce indirect costs by 20%, which included a reduction in force. This is not my first experience with RIF, but it has been twenty years since the first time it happened. My circumstances are different, and the impact is far greater effects now than it was when I was 25. I was far better off as an unemployed single person living at home than I am as a homeowner, married, and father of two school age children. I can’t speak for other singles out there who may be out of work, since everyone’s circumstances are different, but the fewer dependents you have, the easier it is for you to be out of a job.

Those who know me are probably thinking, “wow, you must be getting in a lot of bicycle riding now,” and you would be very wrong. What? I’m not riding more? What the hell is wrong with me?

Before I had children, I would ride twenty or so miles three or four days a week on days I did not work out with weights or rubber bands or whatever. After children, I stopped working out altogether and got fatter and weaker (insofar as I can get fat at all, which is more than you might think). When I discovered bicycling was eliminating the curious knee pain I developed since stopping my workouts, I took up bicycle commuting. This got me to work and got me a workout all in one shot. When I lived 19 miles from work and rode there three days a week, that was plenty of hard riding and I only went out otherwise on short easy rides with the kids. With the latest job change, my commute dropped to 11 miles one to four times a week. But I did not really ride otherwise, since there were still family obligations, I told myself.

Now I don’t commute at all, since I have no job. So I can ride whenever I want (until I get another job), but I am experiencing another kind of reduction in force- the force that used to get me out on my bicycle for a couple of hours at a time, even when it was 50 degrees and drizzly. A reduction in the desire to ride straight out of town into the cornfields for ten or fifteen miles and looping back on an unfamiliar road. I am however feeling an increase in the desire to ride my bike the two miles into town instead of driving, like to get a haircut or a latte or something small. Unless I have to pick up some drywall or 120 pounds of kitty litter, I can handle small errands on a bike, at least until I can buy a decent trailer. I rode out to the strip malls on the other side of town (3-1/2 miles) to see how bad it really was to bike it out there. It wasn’t so bad.

I did go out last week, in my “roadie” regalia (except I wore my commuter sandals, which I’m sure would perturb a “real” roadie), for a 25 mile loop through the cornfields to the west and back, and it felt pretty good to ride for the sake of riding. I still have some time before my next job starts, whenever that is. It is likely that it will not be a bike-commutable job, unless you consider 25-35 miles one-way bike-commutable, so I will need to get out and ride otherwise again. Now I have no excuse for not rebooting my weight training (such that it was) on days I do not ride.

Suddenly, I’m feeling very tired.