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This is a question Unemployed

I was Mordred writes, "I've been out of work for a while now... however, every cloud must have a silver lining. Tell us your stories of the upside to unemployment."

You can tell us about the unexpected downsides too if you want.

(, Fri 3 Apr 2009, 10:02)
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And our survey says....

I was lying in bed last night, the prospect of ANOTHER 12 hour day shift lying in front of me and worrying greatly of my lack of performance in the QOTW so far. I mentioned this to 'im indoors.

"Why not talk about the time you worked for the Jobcentre?" he suggested

"I never worked for the Jobcentre." I reminded him.

"Yes you did you fucking mong" he gently chided. "You did that survey work for them."

Oh yeah. How did I forget about that?

Just after I qualified as a student and started working as a stretcher monkey in our fine capital city, I was a fair bit short of money (pay then was frankly shite, and anything I got went on paying off my uber student debt). I started moonlighting for a company that did "Unplanned Customer Experience Monitoring." Or in other words, mystery shopping. 99% of the work was wank as it was public sector stuff (local councils, libraries etc.) However, in order to qualify for the more exciting jobs (electrical stores that sound like tasty Indian foodstuffs) you had to do a number of these other jobs. The pay was a pittance, but you did get travel thrown in - I always drove to these places as the fuel allowance was fucking amazing.

A highlight visit was when I went to a Jobcentre in quite a posh area of London. The first part of my visit entailed walking around the Jobcentre, checking all the computers were working, that the place was clean, that all the job boards were properly laid out etc. To do this, I had to have a clipboard and pen, and part of the survey was to see how long it was before someone approached you to ask if you needed assistance, at which stage you were to announce who you were and proceed to part 2, the interview.

So I was walking around, merrily ticking away like an autistic child with a new pen, when I heard a voice say "You. What do you think you're doing?"

I turned to see a formidable woman in her late 50's bearing down on me like that fucking black fortress from the film Krull with a twinset, pearls and blue teeth. I put on my most winning smile.

"Hi, I'm here from...."

"I don't CARE who you're here from. You stand in line like the rest of the jobseekers and WE will tell you when you can use the machines."

"Ah, I think there's been some kind of mistake. Actually I'm...."

"Mistake? We don't make MISTAKES young man. I suggest that you change your tone of voice and do as you are told, unless you want your benefits cut." At this stage, everyone in the jobcentre was silent. You could have heard an Elizabeth Duke sovereign drop.

I looked at her and cleared my throat, my bowel contents straining at my nipsy like a curious turtle.

"Can I speak to your manager please."

"NO" she shouted. "You may NOT. My manager is VERY busy and has better things to do."

I pulled out my ID. "I don't think you understand. I am here performing an inspection on your jobcentre, and you WILL let me speak to your manager. Immediately."

"'ll just see if he's available."

"I am certainly available" said a voice from the far end of the room. A (youngish) man in glasses was standing by a door. "Would you like to come through, sir? And you, Maureen. Stay there. I will be talking to you shortly."

I would like to say the room burst into applause, but this was London and it was clear everyone was still far too scared of Maureen to actually question her rule. But there was a universal sigh, followed by animated (if slightly hushed) conversation.

I walked into the manager's office and had a long chat with him.

"Look" I said, "obviously I'm going to have to mention what happened, but as far as I am concerned, everything else was absolutely fine."

"To be honest," the manager said "I'm glad that happened. She's been an absolute bitch ever since I came here. She basically thinks unemployment is due to lazyness or weakness, and nothing else. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to sack her because it's the public sector. So feel free to make your report as damning as you want - I've been telling my bosses for ages we need rid of her."

So, I walked out of the Jobcentre. No sign of Maureen. As I walked up the road, I heard a voice.

"Oi, you".

I turned round. It was a guy I vaguely recognised from being inside the Jobcentre.

"You're coming with me mate, I owe you a massive drink for standing up to that bitch"

I spent the afternoon in the pub in the company of some really nice people, some of whom I am still mates with to this day. I realised that being unemployed can happen to any of us at any time, no matter how secure your job supposedly is.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 7:46, closed)
There's always one, isn't there?
In my jobcentre it was Donald the receptionist. A more condescending, disinterested, up his own arse bloke you couldn't wish to meet.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 13:32, closed)
Very well said!
It's about time that "being unemployed" did not have a stigma attached to it.

Yes, there are professional benefits scroungers and simply lazy people who sign on at the job centre.

On the other hand, there are plenty of decent people who want to earn an honest living, but who happen to have had the misfortune to be unemployed at any one moment.

No need to lump the latter in with the former.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 13:48, closed)
My sentiments exactly
The majority of people I interviewed in my jobcentre days were fine (until I ended up doing New Deal anyway - the majority of those really took the piss). Trouble is, you tend not to remember the good ones so much as the bad.

But yeah - most of them were OK and genuinely didn't want to be in the position they found themselves.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 13:52, closed)
that I could click more than once. And buy you a massive drink myself.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 16:55, closed)
I didn't like your tale.
I bloody LOVED your tale. Well done.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 19:16, closed)
Nice tale.
Have yourself a *click*
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 8:04, closed)
Excellent stuff
there's something about getting one over on trumped up jobsworths that just makes me glow all happy
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 8:37, closed)
Good stuff.
Consider it clicked.
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 9:47, closed)

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