Along the marathon route, I learned a bunch about proper marathon etiquette. Didn’t know there was any? Oh yes – just like the ‘rule’ where you aren’t supposed to bowl at the same time as the person next to you, there are marathon etiquette rules, too. Some are kinda obvious – don’t yell, “You’re almost there” when they still have 10 miles to go. But – also frowned upon – “Hang in there” and “You’ll make it” because you’re sort of insinuating that they look like crap.

So, what do you say? acceptable choices include “Looking strong” and “Good job.” I’m not sure about “There’s beer at the finish” because there might not be. At my particular spot, some guys were grilling….which smelled tasty to me, but I thought it might make the runners feel a little ill. At 25 miles, can they stomach the smell of a greasy hamburger?

So….all this talk of marathon etiquette made me think about my current situation of unemployment and how some people just sort of avoid talking to you about it because they aren’t sure what to say. So, they don’t address it, but then you (okay, I) feel kinda like that huge gaping hole in my existence and my bank account are being forgotten. And the thing I want most (after a job or winning the lottery) is just a little sympathy and compassion.

So, what is the unemployment etiquette? Well – off the table are phrases like: “You’ll be fine” (have you been listening to me?) “At least you have unemployment” (I don’t….and neither do most of the people currently unemployed either ). “I wish I was unemployed. I need a vacation.” (no – you most certainly do not) or “Maybe you should update your resume” (Yeah – I thought of that – 8 months ago).

So…what do you say? Well, ask how we’re doing….and actually be open to the answer we’re going to give – which isn’t going to be all puppies and rainbows. Ask if there are areas or companies we’re targeting. Offer your contacts in those fields if you’ve got them. Offer to buy us a drink….a strong one. 🙂 Tell us about cool free stuff going on. We need to get out of the house. And realize that you can’t really understand how we feel unless you’ve been there. And let’s hope you never have to be.