How to Be a Choosy Beggar

July 23, 2013

by Jorja Hudson

So you’ve fallen on hard times. The economy is bad and you figure that excuse will do for at least another couple years. Your family and friends have been very supportive since that social media marketing job fell through.

At first, you appreciated the discount store gift cards and homemade soup. But you are used to a higher standard of living. So buck up, there’s no reason upward mobility has to end with your job loss. Up the ante on all those kind souls and get them to pony up a bit more. After all, you can be a choosy beggar. Here’s how:

First of all, avoid your closest friends. They’ve seen you at your most desperate and know you’ll settle for a watery cup of coffee. Instead, contact friends you haven’t seen in many years–even Billy from fifth-grade gym class, who, haltingly on the phone, can barely remember you–they don’t know the intricate details of your sad existence.

Arrange to meet Janet or Chubby at your favorite cafe. As you stand in line, scuffle through your purse or jeans pocket and sigh that you unwittingly left your wallet at home. They’re nice folks–they’ll offer to spot you. Thank them, then mention your dietary preference for soy milk, your love of hazelnuts, and the long night ahead of you. Before you know it, you’re listening to Janet’s harrowing tales of accounting while you sip your free hazelnut soy latte.

Once you’ve exhausted your old friends, start on your family. The good thing is, the complex nature of today’s families expands your range of possibilities. You have your former stepmother’s third cousin once removed. The in-laws of your father’s new family. Your half-brother’s ex-wife. Call them. Get to know them. Remind them of the family reunion you once saw them at even if you were never there. Keep trying. Before you know it, you’ll be sleeping in the guest rooms of some of your more well-heeled relations and maybe even invited to go with them to their vacation home in Maui.

And while you’re making the rounds of friends and family, you don’t have to settle for twelve-pack chicken breasts and processed food from a supermarket. As everyone knows, you are what you eat. If you were earning real money, you’d be eating Brie and sustainably-raised organic vegetables from a gourmet natural foods store. Next time at a family dinner, pretend to faint. Tell mom you’ve developed low blood sugar, weight loss, or a gluten allergy. Your mother will quickly transform her love for you into the form of antioxidant-powered smoothies, whole-wheat penne, and grass-fed beef.

Keep in mind the inevitable–after awhile you’re going to wear out your welcome. So keep reminding friends and family about the 500 resumes you sent out, even if you never got a call back. Let them know about that interview that’s in the pipeline even though you only got an automated e-mail saying your resume was received.

And tell them that the next job is just around the corner. Then tell yourself that. The next job is just around the corner. It is.

Jorja Hudson is a writer from London with a background in film. She lives in New York and studies sketch comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Her work can be seen on and @jorjasmic.

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

Photo credit: iStock


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