Where do all the unemployed people go? Uptown Coffeehouse

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In honor of Uptown Coffeehouse’s 10th anniversary, we are rerunning this post by Maria Stuart. First published on Sept. 10, 2010, it was inspired and written during a work session at Uptown Coffeehouse. This post originally appeared as an Editor’s Pick on Open Salon and LivingstonTalk.com. While it’s not technically about Uptown Coffeehouse, it accurately illustrates the congenial and cheerful atmosphere of the place, and it shows why people love to hang out there.

There was a time in my life when I got every job I wanted, every single one. From scooping ice cream to waitressing to office work to writing, if I wanted the job, I got it.

I thought myself kind of special, talented for sure. It felt like there was this magical, “if you want it, it will come” force that surrounded me.

That was then.

Today, I am part of a group of people who’ve lost their jobs and hang out at the coffee shop just to get out of the house, an incentive to shower and dress, if you will. Some of us work on our laptops, writing or sending out resumes and checking classifieds. We all know each other to varying degree, and we are part of an exclusive club: Those who will likely never work again.

There’s a story in today’s New York Times about us.

For my little coffee shop club, we also have the added distinction of living in the Metro Detroit area, ground zero for the employment implosion, or the greatest recession since the Great Depression as I’ve heard it called.

Great optimist that I am, I keep trying. There are no newspapers for me to edit, so I design websites, do some freelance writing, and keep growing the hyper-local website I started with a former co-worker who lost his job the same day as me. After a few bumps and a few weeks offline after a dispute with our former developers, I built a new site from scratch, a site that is now mine alone and one I love with all my heart.

When I have time, I write.

It’s a scrappy, challenging environment. There are so many of us out there who do the same kinds of work, trolling for the same jobs and the same dollars, crossing our fingers that we get paid. We compete on one level and prop each other up on another, sharing leads and contacts.

It hasn’t been enough.

Now I am part of a group of nearly 30 people just like me who are taking a small business class, learning about characteristics of entrepreneurs and business plans, letting terms like “elevator pitch” roll off our tongues. While everyone pushes “entrepreneurship” as an exciting new concept, in reality, the spoils go to large, established businesses, for which many of my coffee shop friends and I used to work.

We wait. We cross our fingers. We wish and hope.

In the meantime, we drink coffee.

About Maria Stuart 212 Articles
Journalist Maria Stuart lives in Howell. She worked at The Livingston County Press/Livingston County Daily Press & Argus as a reporter, editor and managing editor from 1990-2009. She is often spotted holding court at Uptown Coffeehouse. You can check out her website by clicking here.