Friday, August 28, 2009


I have just returned from my bi-weekly soul destruction session at the job centre. Car*le of Crewe JobcentrePlus, I want this job: I wish to be your nemesis. I pray for at least one day of working once again with the general public and that you are my first customer. For I will completely ignore everything you say when you try to answer my questions or attempt to engage me in polite conversation and when I actually deign to listen to you I will give you a faintly condescending grimace and answer neither your questions nor concerns and proceed to talk over you. Our brief professional relationship/customer interface will be over when I turn away from you and tap details into my computer or till, acting as if my last uninterested glance at you caused your molecular disassembly, doing like a scared toddler and metaphorically covering my eyes so you can't see me. You will of course have access to my manager in order to complain about my surly treatment of you and I will get the sack; a luxury I do not currently possess as the Jobcentre Plusses have made it quite clear in the national media that they are overstretched and interviews are of a minimal timespan, exonerating their own behaviour. I realise that this ultimately makes you my nemesis but I would have had the brief satisfaction of being able to treat you in exactly the same way you treat me.

It is already bad enough that I am knocking 49, have not had a proper job for nigh on 7 years due to other concerns and have come to the conclusion that unless I want to clean either offices or old people, I am probably unemployable. I respect the fact that these things have to be done, but not by me they won't. I really have no wish to be a skivvy and while I have done the caring thing, it was out of love and duty, not a career option. I have O levels, not GCSEs, in subjects that do not exist anymore. I didn't go to university because universities back in the 70s were for exceptionally clever people who could already read and write when they left school and for which local authorities gave you a grant to attend. Polytechnics were, er... you went to a poly? LOL. No, I went to art college and eventually dropped out, man, and drifted into industry. I have spent a lifetime doing jobs that didn't really matter (and in a large part were empire building) and building up a set of useless non skills with office software that is the equivalent of being very good on a calculator. My body is also failing; I can't bend very well and although I'm generally fit I can't lift much as I've had the full set of hernias and may well have another brewing. I don't even have any proper referees, which is hugely embarrassing. The jobs I'd really like to do (I would, for instance, really love to while away my declining years doing something meaningful on the waterways) are very few and far between and modern offices bear no relation to the ones I used to work in. In order to claim benefit, I have to make myself available for work almost round the clock yet in the real world, if I eat later than 8pm I am up all night with vicious heartburn because of my hiatus hernia. I can't sleep during the day as I turn into an utter shit because the rest of the world is up and being noisy. I live next door to a family whose children, while quite nice, take advantage of the fact that their parents are both profoundly deaf and can't hear the racket they make. I would probably end up killing someone during nights. So no, C*role, the shiftwork admin job at the warehouse you told me to apply for is a non-runner.

In the 90s, following my redundancy, I was, for a brief time, a regular attendee at the Job Centre in Erith in South East London. Signing on there was almost a pleasure and the staff friendly. When I finally secured a job extorting tolls at the world's premier tolled river crossing in Dartford, one of my very first customers on my very first day was the nice lady with whom I used to sign every week. We had a laugh and I thanked her and she was visibly pleased I'd found a job, however menial.

Which was nice.

9 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Rog said...

Why is she named after a kitchen utensil?


I always assumed that Dartford Toll People ended up with villas in Spain by nicking every 12th 50p. I'm sorry...I'm well and truly humbled, as Bill Oddie would say.

5:44 pm  
Blogger Vicus Scurra said...

Non-workers of the world unite. We have nothing to lose but our claims.

6:12 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

I am told there are some very caring people in Jobcentres Plus. I really hope the day will come when you will meet one of them.

7:17 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Rog, yes, you are right, chaps would leave 2 stones heavier than when they started their shift - not quite in the way you described but there were ways. But it all finished way before I started there and if your till was a fiver or more down you got an interview with Bill and probably another one with the Old Bill. Bar one or two twats who tried it on and got caught it was pretty honest.

Vicus, come the revolution I'll probably be cleaning graffiti off the wall

Dave, I did meet one about a month ago. She was very sympathetic and made me feel human for half an hour.

11:08 am  
Blogger Dave said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:46 pm  
Anonymous Andy said...

Menial!! Does that indicate a lack of job satisfaction whilst working in Dartford!

10:33 pm  
Blogger Pamela said...

It sounds like you could use a good hug. I'd like to offer you a job but alas I'm too far away and have none to offer. A cyber hug will have to do.

Please don't let vicus turn that into something tawdry.

Hugs...and high hopes that you'll find something suitable.

5:22 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Andy, haven't they told you yet?

Pamelala, thank you. By the way, I don't actually need Vicus to turn it into something tawdry, I'm just more polite. However, I am a bit worried being as I bear, in a bad light, a moderate likeness to your old man (am I right in guessing that he's not bothered to change his hairstyle ever either?) and that you might get a bit carried away. Be careful, I'm single and bored.

3:03 pm  
Blogger Zed said...

The thing with being unemployed in this country is that when you have to stoop so low as to take on any job, you have to be bi-fucking-lingual.

I'd work in a supermarket - oooops, can't. I'm not bi-lingual and can't anyway because of my back.

Which leaves me with office work in an English-speaking office where I can use my spoken French. My written French is understandable but crap.

Go home, people cry - but I CAN'T. Even though my family are almost all grown-up, there's this house that I'm trying to buy the rest off my Ex and plenty of rubbish like that going on.

So here's a big hug, Richard, as tomorrow is the first day of the last month at a job that I loved.

4:55 pm  

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