Monday, February 27, 2012
not all of us can have the perfect job. i would quite like to be putting the tails on bunny girls, or being the wardrobe manager for babestation. or maybe even a shock jock (to be honest i couldn't be anything other than that as i have an inability to talk for very long without swearing). most of us just have to get on with jobs that we don't always find interesting or fulfilling. there has even been a lot about that in the media recently - but you will have to wait for my critique of workfare and i know you can't wait. as the job market is flat and the opportunities for 50-year olds are even flatter i have had to succumb and sign on. for those of you lucky enough not to have had to go through this process let me tell you it is not the most uplifting experience. firstly there is the telephone interview - this is how you start your claim. lots of questions. many of them repeated several times. the person at the other end is just going through the questions as they appear - even they must be bored with asking me, but in ever so slightly different ways, if i am single or do i have children. this inquisitor cannot provide advice, which isn't much of a help when you get to areas where you have no idea what is going on. my mortgage isn't covered by housing benefit (well maybe the interest is, maybe)but you should have mortgage protection, except the last time i told them i had this my claim for jobseeker's allowance was invalidated because i had an income. trying to explain that anomaly got me nowhere. given they are potentially not going to give me benefits for my mortgage they still want to see paperwork for things such as leasehold, ground rent and maintenance. why? no idea. just nosey i guess. they then give you a time to arrive at your local job centre to have a formal interview, hand over paperwork and confirm the statement you have given. my local job centre is not a welcoming place. i was running a bit late so i slightly amended the time i was told i was supposed to be there. ooops a little lie from me. hell it didn’t matter because they told me i was supposed to be there 10 minutes before the time i had been given. mutual distrust established. the advisor i got to see had been there the last time i started signing on. they were not much help or that interested then. they hadn’t changed. i got a little bit about how being late had upset their careful schedule because now they only had 15 minutes to interview me. i feign contrition and say i’ll be quick. they make noises about how they won’t be able to provide me with all the details i need. i am handed a copy of my statement to check. i hand over various bits of paper that they have asked me for. i go over the statement. i explain that i haven’t got some of the paperwork they have asked for, but i point out that as i am not trying to claim for ground rent i am not sure why they want the details. the advisor looks at me as i am an idiot. they ask why i have a bank statement with me. i tell them it is because i have been asked to bring it with me. again the look. i mention the situation about the mortgage. i get a different look. it is a look you use on people who are dribbling and raving. i get no help. no advice. advisor goes off to photocopy some of my documents. again if you have never been to a job centre you won’t know that they have a weekly print out of choice jobs. a job code; a job title; some description and the salary, all on a simple piece of paper. oh look there is a job event listed, that’ll be good to go to. no date. that is not helpful. advisor comes back. i ask: ‘can you tell me the date of this?’ sigh. i get a fucking sigh. the advisor turns to the computer and finds the information. i ask if there is a website for it? no. i ask if i can take the sheet with me – at least that way i have the job sheet. no. you can’t have that. it has codes on it. what? yes it has codes on it. from the attitude of the advisor these codes can be used to locate the sunken city of atlantis. to the untrained eye, mine, they just look like job codes. with that interview is over and i am out of there like a shot. i have to come back every two weeks. of course because i was late there was a large queue waiting to see my happy helpful advisor. oh that’s right there was no one there. i love helpful people. so i go back to my opening statement. i know we can’t all have the perfect job. i know we sometimes take a job and discover it isn’t quite what we expected it to be. i understand that sometimes that we just have to grin and get on with it. what i can’t understand is sticking in a job for several years that you plainly don’t like, having to deal with people that you plainly don’t like and are not interested in helping. coming to work day after day knowing that you will have to talk to people you don’t want to. where you have no desire to do the job properly but just get to the end of the day. making no attempt to disguise the fact that each person you have to see just is another problem, yet still want those people to show you the respect you can’t be bothered to show them. the really sad part is the advisor has kept their job for several years. so either no one bothers to complain or they all, like me, realise that it is pointless. that first contact is also the moment where you quickly understand that the aim of the people in the job centre is to do the least amount of work possible while they make your life a misery because they have to do a job they don’t like.