Now that you're unemployed, you can't blithely drop $10 at the bodega on seltzer and batteries like you used to. You can't even pay the check at a restaurant! So when your id or your still-employed friends suggest that you do any of the following things, we've included helpful cheap-to-free alternatives that will also teach you and others a valuable lesson about the value of a dollar.
Eat Food in a Restaurant
Wealthy people have servants; people with jobs have "waiters." You don't have either of those, and you won't for a while, so you'll have to learn to cook for yourself. Forget that oven you have to light with a match in your illegally zoned apartment and try out the BBQ areas in Prospect Park, which include built-in charcoal grills! (See the helpful interactive map on the park's website, and try throwing your garbage away in a garbage can unlike everyone else who visits the park on the weekend.)
Stop by Whole Foods After Work
Remember when you could buy all your groceries at Whole Foods? And you could nab little impulse buys like organic marshmallows? Those days are over, pal! Clip some coupons and head to a Pathmark or an Associated and take advantage of the sales. You might even try the Fairway in Red Hook, which is surprisingly affordable, for certain items anyway. (Avoid the no-sugar-added craisins, obvs.) Also, did you know that, contrary to popular belief, bodegas often stock cheap essentials like beans for a few dimes less than your local supermarket? Don't discount a little dumpster hunting, either&emdash;our very own Conscientious Objector recently discovered a dozen loaves of organic bread in the garbage. Lastly, there's that whole "teach a man to fish" thing: plenty of people survive off scaled swimmers angled in the waters surrounding the five boroughs. Take the Q to Sheepshead Bay and give it a go.
...And Then Make a Quick Stop at the Liquor Store
We get it; the urge to drown your sorrows in alcohol is even stronger now than when you first left college. And yet, your checking account has so little dinero to fund your quickly escalating B&J addiction. Therefore, we suggest brewing your own beer and not sharing with friends. Though a basic starter kit from NorthernBrewer.com will set you back $75, you gotta spend money to make money get drunk: the six gallons of beer that you can brew over and over again for the cost of about ten bottles of Brooklyn Lager will pay for itself in a few months. You know you're going to be out of work for way longer than that. You might also try keeping a jeroboam of Carlo Rossi in the fridge&emdash;a four-liter jug is almost twice the size of a six-pack, only a few dollars more, and almost twice the alcohol percentage!
Go to a Bar
What are you paying for at a bar? The "ambience"? Get real! Grab a six-pack from the bodega (after some price-comparisons to figure out which store sells Rolling Rock at non-imported prices) and drink it outside. It's warm out! Of course, the last thing you need is a costly open container ticket&emdash;although if the judge lets you off with a warning, at least it'll give you something to do during the day&emdash;but there are lots of places the cops don't usually patrol with their summons-books at the ready. Our favorite is Brooklyn's Veterans Memorial Pier, where you can paperbag it with the nocturnal fishermen. (Maybe even catch breakfast while you're there?) Squint hard enough through your tears and you can see Lower Manhattan around the bend.
Join a Gym
Exercise is necessary for working off all that home-brewed beer you drink because you are a depressed, unemployed loser. But gym memberships are expensive! Well, your grandfather never paid anyone to make him sweat, did he? Take your treadmill workout to the waterfront: many of the city's coastal parklands offer jogging space, like the East River Park's running track. You'll feel better in the sunshine as well as help to save the environment&emdash;which'll make you feel doubly good&emdash;because you won't be using the gobs of electricity sucked up by a stationary treadmill. Use the children's monkey bars as a pull-up station. [It's illegal for an adult to enter a playground without a child Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Legal Dpt.] Use children as dumb bells. Just don't wear a tan trench coat with nothing but running shorts on underneath, k?
Visit a Doctor
After treating the sprained ankle you got running along the East River Track while hungover on homebrew, you might also need to get your liver checked out&emdash;or, even better, replaced. But health insurance was the first thing that went when the paychecks stopped being deposited directly, wasn't it? Dr. Dave Ores doesn't do transplants at his clinic on the Lower East Side, but he'll be the voice of reason to tell you to cut back on your drinking. And he won't sick a collection agency on you if you don't pay him right away (or, ever).
Pay Your Rent
Remember when Isaac Davis quit his job and had to give up his awesome duplex? That's like you, times a million. Now, think about it: Why are you paying rent at all? According to a little research into New York City housing law (note: here's where we earn your trust, right?), it's perfectly legal to squat, as long as it's first perfectly il-legal to rent. That's right: find a building zoned for commercial-use-only that a landlord has deemed a dwelling by inscrutable slumlord decree, fake your pay stubs, move in, pay rent for the first month, then stop. Because your new domicile wasn't zoned for housing in the first place, the landlord will worry more about getting in trouble trying to evict you than he'll miss your unpaid rent. (Either that, or he'll assassinate you.) Try it out; you can't use the work ID to which you hung on to sneak into the old office at night for a nap on the couch forever&emdash;if the cleaning ladies don't rat you out, the security guards will.
Rent a Movie
You don't even need Netflix anymore, dude! The New York Public Library has an interlibrary loan system that will get not only books&emdash;sayonara, Amazon!&emdash;but DVDs sent from any library in the city to the one closest to your home. (Walking there will give you something to do!) And you can fill out the request forms on the internet&emdash;a wireless connection, which of course, you're stealing from your neighbors.
Check Out the ofers Exhibition at MoMA
Feeling left out of the cultural clutter of NYC because you can't afford to shell out the necessary bucks to get a first hand look at the bizarre world of Tim Burton? Don't feel bad&emdash;even the employed can hardly afford to visit MoMA. But fear not! That exhibit is so overhyped! Oh, and there are alternatives. Forbes offers free tours of its tiny metal toy galleries in the headquarters basement and a gratis glimpse into the insanity of Tiny Metal Americana, which includes tiny metal boats, tiny metal soldiers, and "obscure" tiny metal editions of Monopoly.
Take a Booze Cruise
We went on one once and it was fun. We got drunk, sailed around Manhattan, and gawked at Governor's Island. We also kept pointing out which building we worked at every time we got close to DUMBO. Of course, you can't afford to take a booze cruise&emdash;but that doesn't mean you can't create your own! Fill the flask you've taken to carrying at all times and board the free Staten Island Ferry. Ride it back and forth, over and over again, creating a metaphor for the existential torture session that has become your life.