Friday, 15 April 2011

How do you do… Unemployment

Sacked, redundant, fired, dismissed. Whatever the reasons, there is now quite a gap in your schedule between nine and half five for five days every week from now till fuck knows when.

I got sacked

So they found that mass of greasy granny porn you’ve been subtly downloading from the high-speed broadband connection at work. Oh geez, they’ve noticed you took two hour lunches on Thursdays, Fridays, Tuesdays, Mondays and Wednesdays, where you’d get high with the pizza guy n sit around for the rest of the afternoon watching babies burp on YouTube. Uh oh, you’ve been steeling furniture from work and selling it on Gumtree. Whoops, you’ve been secretly eating other people’s food from the fridge, one of the victims found you had ham, hummus, and egg on your face. Holey moley, that expose’ blog you’ve been writing about a shitty company in roughly the same geographical area, in the same industry, with the same hierarchy, with an almost carbon copy of colleagues minus you, has been pinpointed as yours by a open link to your Facebook page saying, “Read this blog wink wink (it’s not me) IT IS, IT IS!”

Ok, ok, you’re just exceptionally bad at your job, you make every mistake that can ever be made, you never learn and seem to know less now than when you started, you don’t listen, you lie, you’re tardy, scruffily dressed, most of the time you’re not working and the rest of the time you’re doing it wrong. Basically you’re the chaff that every so often needs separating from the wheat, disposing of and never allowed back onto the wheat’s premises.

Burning the books

Or maybe your company is just the worst financially managed in the world and instead of investing in more stock control it bought shares in MySpace. When everyone was cutting back it did an America and spent big on a viral video that didn’t go viral, didn’t even go septic. Even when the cleaners were saying. “Oi dickhead, aren’t you overdoing it a bit,” they plowed on buying that plow to turn the Gobi dessert into rainforest so they can grow monkeys to harvest them as menial workers.

When the monkeys rebelled at being fed peanuts and demanded bananas, the money dried up along with the tea and coffee so you drank hot sugary milk water, then hot sugary water, then hot water, then cold water, then toilet water. They sold the computers; consequently all the designs and reports had to be done with a Spirograph and a setsquare. Prior to the heave ho, you worked in candlelight on cardboard with chalkstones you found at the side of roads. After the final indignity of being paid in monopoly money, you resigned.


As you sit in the pub shocked and sorrowful drinking into the hurting remembrance of the work you just left. All around your colleagues say, “It’ll be alright,” “Keep strong,” “You can find something better.” You recall next month they’ll still be getting paid, they still have a job.

They still can relate (except for the smarmy rich twat who’s auntie got him in.) You look around at those people, day-to-day trials of life shared with this post-post modern disjointed family of twenty to thirty something’s with some sort of Polish heritage branch grafted on.

And as you lay in bed unable to sleep but too drunk to do anything productive, that afterglow of work-time washes through, you realise you are now a free person, you answer to no-one, no more early mornings regretful of the extra hour you spent awake watching a mediocre biography of some guy you haven’t even heard of, no stress of transit with a few million other aggrieved so-and-so’s, no targets, no working late, no office politics, no meetings that have nothing to do with you, no smart casual, no initiatives, no money, no money with a tsunami of debts in the middle distance. Arghh!

Cam on!
Not that you could blame the Tory government for any of this but you can, almost all, almost everything you pay more for, get less with and generally feel over taxed and under funded by you could blame on a Tory government delighting in continuing the policies of their dear overlord Margaret (I’m having a party when she dies) Thatcher. So, when everything is going up in price and your wage is bankrupt. You now need Mr Money…

The dole
The government rebranded it to jobseekers allowance but it’s the dole. The refit makes these centres of hopelessness brighter but no less crest fallen. While names are miss shouted and sauntering tracksuits swish swoosh Nike and Adidas, Lacoste and Le Coq logos mingle and catch up like an adults playgroup. We, the others, observe, and experience mild interrogation, jumping through the hoops for the less scrupulous, receiving our stamps, turning up to our times, proving our proof and signing on.

So, you’re currently unemployed?

And you’re not working?
Not getting any money from anywhere?
Are you actively seeking work?
And you have no savings?
Non at all?
Waiting on any money coming to you from your previous employer?
And you want to claim jobseekers allowance?
It is a criminal offense to claim when you’re working, so are you definitely not working?
You are working?
No, I mean no, I’m not, I’m not working o.k.
You know we have a zero tolerance policy on aggressive behavior here.
I said o.k.

Well, fill out this booklet and this form because you lived abroad once and if you’re claiming housing benefit, complete this book. In two weeks sign on and a week later you get your £64.70 a week, subject to you appearing like you’re looking for work, that could just mean printing out a few jobs from that machine and showing me, basically speaking, the better liar you are the more benefits you’ll receive. Oh and if you do any work you have to disclose it and we’ll deduct that from your already paltry sum just to give you less incentive to work o.k?


As you click through the modern interactive job board, realise that instead of animation and illustration the cleaning and slaughter industry would have been a more fruitful and altogether a less fraught career path. Could you disembowel 400 hundred chickens a day? I mean, you probably get into the flow, then the whole repeatedly slaughtering animals motif might be not as hideous a thought as is it now.


Day to day admin

This voluntary admin job of the personal employment arm of you is now your life, your success depends on it. You wake up late to a series of jobs needing your automated and slightly adjusted cover letter and C.V. Checking your inbox wading through Viagra adverts and Tesco’s promotions to find the few, “we regret to inform you” responses you inwardly sigh yet outwardly continue with slightly less gusto.

The jobs blur into each other, you can’t keep a track, the roles are so interwoven so completely banal and inconsequential considering the vast majority will be ignored, unanswered or auto replied.

12 o’clock, lunch, daytime TV and leftovers mixed with other leftovers eaten by a leftover. Saying that, you can turn up to your computer and sofa naked and smelly and not feel ashamed. O.K. feel ashamed but continue to do it the next day.

Weekday world

You walk the day streets, see the people who now share your world, overloaded bike man, drunk bums, mums with many sons, very old men who seem to be asleep yet are actually moving. Truants, tourists, people going to and coming from work, and ourselves, the unemployed, betting, dossing, buying, moping, sitting, spitting, drinking, thinking.

Welcome back daytime, it’s been awhile.

After a while you drift, days aren’t days anymore, weekends have no meaning, sun rises and sets behind the curtains in your festering, applying cave of despondency. Everything costs lots. You sink lower, stop shaving, stop caring, just applying, just applying. You just keep applying because sometime in some future you’ll get an…

Huh, did you read it wrong, no, it can’t, it can’t be, they want you? An interview, yes, woo, hoo!

So you, the selected, could work, if only you beat the others, if only you were the best, if only you shaved that beard you’ve been thatching the last five months.

Oh shit it’s now, she’s here, he’s here, and they’ve brought another one. Stay calm, don’t go red, drink some water, smile, appear happy, remember their names, what are they’re names?

Hi John

Come, we have a room here for you.
(They could torture me in that room and I’d let them. Well I’d go physical over mental, please physical, physical, physical.)
So why do you want to work for us?
(Shit, I knew I should’ve prepared that question, look around, nice doors, no, smart, smart. People! Stall for time drink some water. Big big place, and people.)
Big People
You have a big company that the people can grow, so they can be bigger, in their skill set. I want to be bigger, like that, not size.
O.K. Shall we see your portfolio.

After the portfolio, after your phone goes off, after you accidentally imply all retail companies have no morals, after trying to open a glass door the wrong way nearly breaking thousands of pounds of glass room, after “we’ll be in touch” you, can now relax.

Wow, Job.
She phoned, she and him and the other one thought you were the best; you were the best? Well you couldn’t argue; you can’t they’ve sent you the contract, you start on Monday.

So you’ve got a job, you can now be disenfranchised on someone else’s time. You’ve got what you’ve been working for though it all seems anticlimactic, you now have to work again. The freedoms you’ve had and squandered on walking round Morrisions trying to construct the cheapest most filling meal for under 99p are gone. Now you’re back to the grinding soulless workhorse of industry.

Go you.


Garth Simmons said...

I look forward to being unemployed again one day because it's the only condition in which I feel comfortable not doing anything for a few hours. Every evening in employment should but isn't always spent doing something productive. I should get loads done on the weekends but tehy are usually just feel like a slow evening where I dawdle for hours inbetween short burst of action.

Good article though I reckon as a dabbler in being self employed you could possible write a guide on how to be self employed - or maybe how to utilize your unemployment in great and interesting ways. This article in itself is a good guide for the masses but then the masses have never really been great or/and interesting. It can be nice getting into the public mindset and thinking as a pleb... then again, I shudder to think.


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