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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Wobbler at The Jobby

Today is Signing On Day down the Jobby for Unworkinggirl. I made sure I was early this time so I didn't have to dip into my Emergency Excuse Bank again, and carried out the mandatory computerised job search whilst waiting to be called. To be fair, there are usually at least a couple of jobs that are relevant each time I look, but there was only one today. Fortunately, the Herald Job Section featured about 6 jobs that I can apply for today, so that makes up for it somewhat.
I sat down and quickly slipped into a heat-induced trance that I can only presume was down to some kind of barbaric design feature of the building, possibly intended to reduce jobseekers into a calm, submissive (read:comatose) state in the hope that the three security guards on duty will not be required to step away from their unofficial task of covering reception.
Whilst I sat there, my internal thermostat slowly rising towards the Danger of Mortality Zone, I took some time to take in my surroundings and make a few notes in my diary. Yes, I did actually do this. Fortunately for me, there was plenty of excellent material...
Firstly, a sign that says: "NO FOOD OR DRINK TO BE CONSUMED ON THE PREMISES", which I read as I was taking a huge gulp of water to cool myself down. Beneath that, a sign that reads: "Remain on the wooden floor until called by a member of staff!!! Thankyou".
Just to reiterate, you are not permitted to cross the threshold onto carpeted floor until you have been instructed to do so by an employee.
I found my thoughts wandering to the type of people who frequent the Jobcentre. I have started to feel guilty of late for dismissing most of them as scrounging pikeys, so I glanced around and wondered if I was perhaps being a little judgemental. A topless man in front of me had to be reminded by a staff member that it isn't appropriate to sit on the table. His response was "as you well know my love, I'm blind in that eye and didn't see the chair".
A pregnant lady sat next to me was quizzed by an acquiantance when her baby was due, "End of September" she replied.
"When are they making you sign on till?" He asked.
"1st July" was the answer.
"1st July?!" He exclaimed, "They takes the fockin' piss, don't 'em?".
Yes, I'd imagine any pregnant woman in full time employment having to work until her 36th or 38th week of pregnancy feels pretty hard done by too.
The same gentleman went on to inform her that nobody will want to take her on after she's had a baby either, so it's hardly worth looking, and declared that he hasn't done anything to look for a job this week. He just makes it up "cos they can't prove nothin".
Honestly, some people do nothing to help themselves.
But then again, nobody else does anything to help them either. I watched as names were called and seconds later, those people were returning from their appointment, books stamped and on their way.
The advisor directly in front of me was opening all her conversations with "we won't be doing your job search today as we haven't got time". So we might all slag off people who live off benefits, but what incentive is there for them to pay their own way (especially if they've never had to) when they are treated like cattle, herded onto the laminate flooring until their name is hollered out like their number is being called at a supermarket deli counter, then sent packing with their money in seconds by someone who doesn't even have time or inclination to engage in a conversation with them?
Yes, there are some people who are probably unemployable (I met enough of them when I was recruiting), but I can't help but feel that many of the jobcentre regulars have just been left to fall by the wayside, and these are people who could make a valuable contribution to society and surely gain some sense of worth if they were treated better and given the help that they need.
As someone who paid Income Tax and National Insurance for the past 13 years, the least I would expect to see is that my money was being used to help people back into the workplace, myself included.
Which leads me to the wobbler I had when my name was called and neither of the two women serving me felt it appropriate to stand up to indicate which of the 30 staff I was being summoned by.
I sat down and no sooner had my buttocks touched the chair, lady 1 had stamped my book, asked me to sign it and declared "Right, that's it for today!".
Horrified, I asked "ummmm, sorry... is anyone going to actually help me find work?". Both women were taken aback and asked what I meant.
"I mean, I'm desperate to find a job and I'm having no luck. I don't know what more I can do. Isn't the Jobcentre where you come if you need help with that?"
"Well, what kind of help do you want?" they asked, still confused.
"I was hoping I might be able to talk to someone about what I'm doing and whether I'm doing something wrong". I replied.
The lady informed me that they don't really do that kind of thing, but as a bit of informal, friendly advice, suggested I put together a CV, apply for lots of jobs and ask around friends and family if they know of any vacancies. Once again, my lack of success was blamed on the C.E.C and the 299 other applicants per vacancy (a figure that, worryingly, seems to rise every time I speak to someone) who I am competing with. Blinding.
Trying not to have a complete Hyacinth Bucket style tantrum (I'll save that story for another day), I said thank you and flounced out. As I got to my car my jersey dress got caught on a concrete bollard and exposed my knickers and wedgie to half the car park. I probably deserved that.
Anyway, I'm sure it's not her fault. And I'm not trying to be political or anything. I just think it's a crap system that doesn't work and I'm fed up with it!
Someone commented on a previous post that I should "quit dripping", which is a fair point. Most people seem to enjoy reading these blogs but I can understand the criticism.
However, I do think that if I wasn't frustrated by my situation and was happy to just turn up at the jobcentre and take the money I would just be as bad as the very people I'm criticising.
If you've managed to stay reading this far, then you deserve a reward:
The Orange Wednesdays 241 offer has been extended to PizzaExpress, so get yourself down there for some very cheap nosh! x


  1. I remember years ago when I was in 'the Jobby' waiting in line I saw one of the claimants jump bolt upright, spit in the face of the lady he was talking to and told her to f**k off. I remember thinking at the time that you would have to pay me a kings ransom to do that job dealing with dregs of society (not that you are, but I'm sure you know what I'm talking about) so I do have some sympathy with them. I'm sure in 'normal' times when there are more postitions available they would be able to spend lots time with each person but I'm sure as with any business they have targets SLA's to meet. It sounds like you are having a tough time but all I can say is keep up chin up and I know there is an employer out there who will soon snap up someone with as many skills as you have. Much love Marty.

  2. Oh my God!!!I did think of applying there but now I'm not sure I could handle it. It's not surprising the staff are fed up if it's that busy. It's a system that's flawed, with no consistency or communication between departments from what I can see. It's easy to blame the staff. Next time I'm down there I'm going to give one of them a hug!! x

  3. your blog is brilliant keep up the good work!, and after reading todays visit to the "jobby" i can understand not just yours but all unemployed peoples frustration with the way things are at the moment! also congrats on making it to the herald!

  4. Unworking-girl for election!! I would actually vote for you!

  5. Un-Working Girl you paint an accurate picture
    of life at the Jobcentre as it was 15 years ago when I was temporarily involved in investigation work there. So it seems not much has changed, depressingly. However, I am confident you will achieve gainful employment and my instinct tells me you desreve it.
    In my experience Jobcentre staff are, or at least were, a mixed bunch in that about half were enthusiastic (some almost to extreme) about 'clients' being made aware of and getting every last penny of benefit they could. The other half believed (quite rightly at times) that many applicants were lazy good-for-nothings who never had, nor intended to do a days work but demanded money which they would waste on drink, drugs or both.
    The system needs fundamental reform which might hopefully protect Jobcentre staff from abuse and at the same time promote the quality pro-active seekers like yourself. Good luck!

  6. give them some feedback Emily - sounds like they need it?

    Love your blog - read it every day,

    Mrs B x

  7. Brilliant stuff Emily!!! Fabulous observational humour and your description of the "Jobby Experience" is so accurate it's scary!
    Keep writing girly you've got a real talent for it.
    In the meantime good luck with he job hunt :o)
    Pippa x