Matt Farmer: The Unemployment Diaries–Part One

February 1st, 2015

In early January I gave my boss two weeks’ notice that I was leaving the job I’d had since October 2012. Some of my friends quickly questioned my sanity, because I gave notice without having lined up another job — and those friends definitely know I’m not sitting on a pile of money.

What can I say? It’s one of those decisions, for better or worse, that I’ve filed under the heading “Life’s Too Short.”

When friends ask me what kind of job I’m looking for, I tell them, for starters, that I want one with health insurance — something my last job didn’t have.

For the past 13 months, my family has been an Obamacare family. Our coverage is good, but it’s also expensive, with a monthly premium markedly higher than my mortgage payment.

Last week was my first week at home — my first week without a job since I started practicing law 21 years ago. I made dozens of phone calls, searched a lot of online job boards, and did my best not to drive my lovely wife crazy.

I’m 50 years old and I don’t relish being out of work, even though I’m the guy who walked away from my last job.

To fill some time with productive activity during my first “non-work” days at home, I made it a point to wander down the street to my neighborhood YMCA, where I’ve long exercised and played basketball.

Two years ago, my seventh-grade daughter was bitten by the basketball bug. Since then, she and I have spent a lot of weekend time on the Y’s hardwood floor.

alonzomourningkneeMatt can feel Mr. Mourning’s pain…


During our shoot-around last weekend, I noticed that our old basketballs were worn out, the original pebble surfaces now icy smooth. While my daughter was in school on Tuesday, I bought her a new youth-size basketball, and I also bought a full-size ball for me. I figured a new ball would inspire me to work some daily, noon-time hoops into my routine.

On Wednesday I grabbed that new ball, laced up my old high-tops and hit the gym. The place was largely empty, so I did what I generally do when I have the gym to myself — launch jumper after jumper, work on some old-man post moves, and temporarily lose myself in the comforting rhythm of a bouncing basketball.

About 45 minutes into my workout, I pulled up near the right elbow for a series of mid-range jump shots. Two or three shots into that drill, I heard a loud pop and I went down. Hard. I looked around, thinking someone — maybe one of Jeff Gillooly’s friends — had taken a lead pipe to my left knee.

Three hours later, with my knee swollen like a 16-inch Clincher softball and my kneecap an inch or two closer to my waist than it was at the start of the day, an orthopedic surgeon told me I had almost certainly ruptured my patellar tendon.

It’s an injury that ended the playing career of Hall of Fame center Alonzo Mourning, and it will undoubtedly end my less celebrated pickup basketball career.

I knew when I gave notice to my old boss that finding a new job at age 50 would pose a number of challenges. I never would have guessed that showering, climbing stairs, and learning how to put on socks would be among them.

Surgery is set for early February. I’m current on my Obamacare payments, but I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do with this Spalding basketball that’s only been used for 45 minutes.


Editor’s Note: Matt‘s last post for The Third City was Bear Down!

7 Responses to “Matt Farmer: The Unemployment Diaries–Part One”

  1. Mike Klonsky says:

    Damn Matt. Halfway through the story I was going to invite you to help coach my girls team. Hoping you have a speedy recovery.

  2. Anne says:

    Ouch! I hope you have a successful surgery and speedy recovery.

  3. Martha Coyne says:

    Keep writing, Matt, and playing music.

  4. Jay Rehak says:


    Sorry to hear of the injury, but I am impressed by your courage to leave a job. It is crazy that in this country our health care is not portable and universal. I know you will wind up in a great job at some point, but in the meantime, I hope your music career continues to expand.

  5. Bummer about your knee, Matt. Hope you recover quickly.
    I’m intrigued, and a bit inspired, by your unemployment effort. Let me know if you want to have lunch sometime while you recuperate.

  6. Mark Larson says:

    Hey Matt, I quit my job around the same time and for the exact same reason. We’ll be on Obamacare, too. We should form a support group.

  7. Matt Farmer says:

    Thank you, friends. I’ll be back in a tavern doing the “duck walk” during a Chuck Berry medley before you know it.

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