Times are tough here in Alberta. Believe me, I know. I’m reminded of this once a day. More like four times a day, actually.

I personally know at least a dozen people who had decent-paying oil jobs that are now more unemployed than a 1930s railroad hobo. These energy companies didn’t screw around when it came to letting people go. Yeah, they used the opportunity to cut themselves of a lot of dead weight, but they also axed plenty of good people.

Many who didn’t lose their jobs were asked to take a pay cut, which is almost as bad. When you’re up to your eyeballs in payments, even a 20% decrease in salary is a tough pill to swallow. I’ve heard of guys who were forced to take a 50% pay cut. It was either that or get whacked.

Oil is a huge employer in my province. Therefore, a reduction in oil jobs has far-reaching repercussions. In my small town alone, at least ten businesses have closed up shop over the last year alone, everything from restaurants to a massage place. Shoulda offered more happy endings, amirite?!

Upon further research I have determined that individual is a dude. Never mind.

WAIT. I am being told that guy now offers an in-home service. HAPPY ENDINGS ARE BACK ON THE TABLE. Or under the table I guess.

Two ways to deal

The people who have been affected by this downturn are dealing with it in one of two ways.

Most people are reacting exactly how you’d expect. They’re complaining about the lack of jobs, the government, those greedy oil execs, and a million other things. They’re holding out for another $30 per hour oil job even if they have no other discernible skills.

In other words, they’re in denial about the whole thing. Nothing is their fault; everything is because of the economy. Why take the opportunity to explore a new career path when the old one will do just fine? Of course, the oil sector might take years to bounce back, but they don’t care. It’s oil or nothing for these people.

Then there’s a select group of people who are seizing upon the opportunity to do something completely new. They might be going to school to work towards something that’s non-oil related. Or they’re trying a new business or career, willing to start humbly and work their way up.

There are also people who are uprooting their families and moving to areas of the country where there’s still oil work.

Which group of people should you belong to? It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Change what you can control

Certain Albertans have spent years training for a specific vocation. They are electricians or welders or whatever, a skilled trade that will be the first to find work again when things get better.

But those folks are somewhat in the minority. There are so many people who did a Homer Simpson when things were good, showing up at the power plant (or big oil project) on the day it opened and asked for a job.

There’s so much these folks can control. And yet they don’t, choosing to sit at home and collect unemployment like it’s some sort of God-given right. No! It’s not!

Hell, I know a guy on pogey who scoffed at the idea of being offered a job at $40-$50k a year because he’d have to work some weekends. His justification (and I shit you not this is what he said) “I could get a job making $50k tomorrow.”

NO YOU CAN’T YOU’RE ON POGEY YOU DUMB ASSHOLE. That’s like single Nelson saying the only thing stopping me from licking Taylor Swift’s thighs is I just haven’t gotten around to asking her yet.

“Hey Taylor, can I just-”

“No. SECURITY!”

“I’ll try again later.”

This all comes down to one thing. It’s all about taking control of your situation versus blaming it on somebody else.

There’s an old saying I’m sure you’ve heard before. If every person you meet is an asshole, the problem is with you, not them. It’s the same thing with unemployed folks.

There are a lot of good people who got whacked in this latest downturn. But there are also a lot of people who became lazy, entitled and annoying employees after years of having it pretty easy.

Instead of taking a hard look in the mirror, these people are blaming everybody except themselves. The boss is a jerk. Oil is down. My co-worker kissed ass. It’s not my fault.

It might not be. But with that attitude comes a very small chance someone will actually take control of their situation.

It doesn’t matter what the solution is. You can evolve like the masseuse in my town and offer a slightly different version of your business. You can get additional training for a brand new career. Or you can move to where there’s work. It all beats sitting at home watching TV in your underpants, waiting for the phone to ring.

There’s always something

Look, life sucks and then you die. Okay, it’s not quite that dire, but the point is this: there’s always going to be something that’s trying to knock you down. What really matters is how you react to it.

Complaining about the economy, your boss, or anything else isn’t going to help you. Either take steps to make your problems better or shut your mouth. There really aren’t any other solutions.

Tell everyone, yo!