When I saw the headline, I assumed it was satire, but I quickly realized that somebody really was dumb enough to be confused about this: “University of Minnesota digs into why people with generous unemployment benefits take longer to find work.” That was a headline in the Minneapolis Star-Tribute last weekend. Whoever could take this question seriously doesn’t understand human nature. The article says, “…[W]hen people are offered more generous unemployment benefits — such as a longer time horizon and higher payments — they take longer to find new jobs.” Well, duh. Is anybody surprised by this? The researcher who led the study says she sees no evidence that it’s because people are slackers, but she doesn’t understand human nature. If somebody is paying you while you’re unemployed, your incentive to look hard for a job is lower and you can be pickier about which job to accept. You can turn your nose up at bad jobs. It’s not that I don’t have sympathy for people who are struggling to find work. I was there just five years ago. But I do understand human nature. When you’re broke and the wolf is banging at your door, you’re willing to take anything.
Sophia was only 5 years old when I met her and her 9-year-old sister, Bella, one day when they were bored and needed somebody to entertain them. Their dad was a casual friend who worked as a manager at a restaurant where I used to go and they had to come to work with him one evening while their mom was recovering from some dental work. Those girls and I hit it off and we had a great time that night. I ran into their parents again tonight and got a great report on the entire family. The girls are 10 and 14 now, which is hard for me to believe, and they looked beautiful and full of energy in their recent photos. The family seems to be doing much better now than they were five years ago, so it was really a joyful update for me. There’s something magical in watching children grow up in healthy and happy ways.
I’m having dinner Thursday night at a restaurant where I haven’t been in awhile and I’m sitting at the same table where I had my first date with a woman about six or seven years ago. (I might be a bit off on the time frame.) I’ve never told this story publicly, but I might as well. This was a woman I met online and everything seemed great. We arranged to meet here and things went well enough that she invited me to her house, which was nearby. I’m going to skip the details, but the key fact is that she finally told me — hours later, at her house — that she is married and her husband was out of town. She wanted to keep seeing me when he wasn’t around, but I left her house and never spoke to her again. It was a very odd experience.