"Boy, the wife is getting on my nerves. She keeps giving me sympathy cards for being unemployed."
"Ah, yes, you speak of a new line of greeting cards from Hallmark. What do the cards say?"
"'Don't think of it as losing your job,' reads one. 'Think of it as a time-out between stupid bosses.'"
"An interesting way to console someone who is out of work."
"And awfully patronizing, if you asked me. It makes the person giving the card feel good and the unemployed slob receiving it feel worse. Here's the last one the wife got me: 'Losing your job does not define you. What you do about it does.'"
"Sounds a little preachy. Still, you have to hand it to the Hallmark people. With unemployment stuck at more than 9 percent, why not make dough exploiting a new market niche?"
"Well, if they're willing to exploit something as crappy as losing your job, why not exploit other lousy occasions?"
"This is going to be good. Go on."
"How about cards for the millions of Americans who have gone bankrupt? Something like: 'I hate to bother you now, considering the mess you're in, but could you repay me my 20 bucks before the feds close in?'"
"How about cards for the millions of small-business people who are going under because they can no longer get loans, thanks to our government's overly stringent financial reform? 'You took your shot at the American dream and for that you are commended. But you forgot to factor in government red tape and the total lack of lenders!'"
"I suppose a person who just lost his or her life's dream might find that oddly amusing. What else do you have?"
"How about a card for that loser kid of yours who just flunked out of college: 'You flunked out again, my hapless son, but it is no big deal. Our whole country is flunking now, you better learn to steal.'"
"Tough times call for tough love."
"Here's another for a fellow whose girlfriend ditches him: 'It stinks to be the last to know, but Sheila left you a day ago. She's with me now, for obvious reasons. Your business failed and you have no money, but my political connections got me a six-figure federal-government job, you private-sector loser!'"
"You surely put a lot of thought into greeting cards for lousy occasions. Any others?"
"Here's a card idea for people who didn't vote for Obama to give to people who did: 'You voted for hope and change two-and-a-half years ago. Now I have little hope or change and owe everybody dough.'"
"Boy, you are crabtoday."
"Of course, I'm crabby. I'm crabthat the economy is so bad and that our political leaders are only making it worse –– all of this wasteful spending, all of this insane borrowing, all of these new regulations and mandates that are making it harder for private employers to grow and hire."
"Fair enough. The health-care mandate alone is worrying a lot of employers."
"But what makes me really crabis that people are getting so used to unemployment being high, they suddenly think it's appropriate to give the unemployed sympathy cards –– that's a subtle acceptance of America's decline, if you ask me."
"Surely you have a card for that?"
"I sure do: 'We're Americans, not quitters, you see, and every American should be angry. We're the land of the free, the home of the brave. To hell with quitters and those who cave!'"
Tom Purcell, a freelance writer, is also a humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and is nationally syndicated exclusively Cagle Cartoons ne.