It isn’t all free beer and fags being unemployed


Is it time for a post about the… I was going to say “misery” but I think “condition” would be a better description.  It is sometimes depressing, but misery is much too strong a word and also implies that it’s always miserable.

It isn’t.  Not always.

But the occasions when I panic about us losing everything, worry that I’m doing something fundamentally wrong and fear I’m of no use to anyone have become more frequent as my redundancy money slowly drains away.

Things haven’t been helped by being turned down for a couple of jobs I recently interviewed for – there haven’t been too many interviews thus far, so my hopes soar when I actually get asked to attend an interview.  And as much as I try not to get my hopes up it’s difficult not to imagine the relief at being offered something – anything! – that would set our household on an even keel again and offer some sort of future security.

I had an interview last week where it took just 15 minutes for me to realise “I haven’t got this job,” for one reason and another.  They were jolly pleasant, offered some very salient advice and suggestions, and didn’t even say “You haven’t got this job,” but I knew I hadn’t got it .

Then there was the agency interview two weeks ago to discuss my suitability for a role: all seemed to go well, I was polite, helpful and not-stupid, did everything they asked me to and…haven’t heard anything whatsoever since.

I had a proper interview three weeks ago that went OK and which I thought I had a chance of getting.  Annoyingly they didn’t bother getting in touch with me to say “You haven’t got this job,” – which is pretty *$#@ing annoying actually – and I had to chase them up to get confirmation of that.

It isn’t that I’m finding unemployment itself at all unpleasant – I’ve got plenty of enjoyable things I can be getting on with to occupy myself, and since I’ve never been the slightest bit interested in “having a career” it’s not that I feel I’m somehow being left behind – I don’t judge people by what they do for a living, I like to think we’re all more than our CVs say.

No, the thing I’m having trouble dealing with is the emotional roller-coaster of unemployment – the raising and dashing of hopes, the questioning of all my skills and all my experience.  And for each day when I shrug it off and think “Ahh, something will turn up – it always does,” there are increasingly others when I think, “But what if it doesn’t?  Eh?  What then?

What then?

In other news, today it was time to sign on again, and I got in trouble with the lady at the job centre.

First a tiny little bit of background: if you’re on Jobseekers Allowance you’re required to fill in a rather silly booklet detailing, in just a few centimetres of space, what you’ve done in the last fortnight to find work.  This time, in tiny but legible handwriting, I squeezed in three things – attended one job interview, used the advice given by the employment consultant you sent me to in order to improve my CV, and registered with two more employment agencies.

Now, the lady interviewing me didn’t have a clue what she was doing as, she told me, she’d just come back from nine weeks off.  Nevertheless I was unflinchingly polite, patient and smiling, as we middle-class folks are when confronted with the iniquities of the benefits system.

You’re due an employment meeting,” she told me matter-of-factly.  “What time – 1.30 or 3pm?

What day?” I asked innocently, only to be confronted by a crashing silence as she stopped typing, looked to either side then back at me.  “October 5th,” she sighed, and when I carried on looking at her blankly snapped, “The next date you sign on!

Oh,” I said, feeling unaccountably stupid, “I see.  Well, um, 1.30 should be fine.  Ooh, wait – how long does it last, this meeting?  I have to pick my children up from school just after three.

She rolled her eyes as though I had been put on this earth purely to test her patience – “It only lasts half an hour – it’ll be finished long before then. You go in a room with about 12 other people, sit in a circle and get given a talk.

She might also have added “Duh!

I didn’t dare ask what the talk would be about.  Anyway, that was the least of my worries.  I’d earned myself a warning!

For despite noting on my booklet that I had attended one job interview, used the advice given by the employment consultant in order to improve my CV and registered with two more employment agencies I had singularly failed to write down how many jobs I had applied for in the last fortnight.

I took it as given,” I defended myself, “that I’ve been applying for jobs.  I’ve been applying for jobs since being told I was being made redundant.

But all my Cicerian eloquence was in vain.

You have to write in the book if you’ve been applying for jobs,” I was told, “It’s part of your jay-sag.

Jay-sag?

This poor woman, her patience tested beyond the limits by my insufferable idiocy could only grimace in despair as she enlightened me: “Jobseekers Agreement.

Ahh, well, I’ve applied for two just this morning, and I apply for about six or seven every week, I explained.  “I just took it as given that I was applying – I am on Jobseekers Allowance, after all.

No.  I’m going to have to put a warning note on your file for next time,” she smiled happily.  “Goodbye.

And with that I was damned as a troublemaker.

The icing on the cake was the agency message on my phone when I came out telling me that the position I had interviewed for three weeks ago was “closed”.  I rang them back to try and discover whether “closed” meant someone else had got the job or that it had simply fizzled out of existence.  I left a message but – job agencies being what they are – no bastard member of staff has bothered to reply.

Fortunately for my sanity I took Millie to the park after school finished early this afternoon, took the stabilisers off her bike and managed to teach her how ride it without them – which instantly eclipsed all the other crap getting me down at the moment.

She didn’t quite manage it instantly but did do so far more quickly than I’d expected.  And even if she hasn’t mastered it yet we at least know that she’s a remarkably clever little sausage and can do it.

Well done, poppet – you’ve made your dad (and your mum, but mostly your dad) very happy with your cleverness. 😀

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