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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)
Pages: Popular, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This question is now closed.

The wonder of the British education system
I was lucky enough to spend a whole year 'unemployed' whilst writing up my PhD thesis. I seems that the British government in their infinite wisdom decided some time ago to only fund PhDs (and have you registered as a student) for the first three years yet have no punishment if it is not submitted in under four. This means that the vast majority of UK PhDs spend a year signing on, which is brilliant.

This is how it works: you have two weeks to make up some bullshit about ways you've been looking for a job, these can include: reading the newspaper, talking to friends (in the pub?), performing an internet search all that sort of stuff. You can knock that crap out in around 20 mins and spend the rest of the fortnight watching 'homes under the hammer', wanking, and sleeping off hangovers paid for by the government. I really don't know why I bothered to get a job....

Oh yeah, and if they start hassling you about 'new deal' etc. which they do after you've been signing for 6 months you can just not sign on one week, do a 'rapid re-sign' a few days later and be put back to square one! yay!
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 4:51, 8 replies)
I've been contracting for 15 years
and in that time I've developed websites and intranet sites for some of the biggest companies in New Zealand. I started off pretty rough but over the years I've picked up programming experience, photoshop skills, database administration and put a few pennies away for rainy days. As these skills are picked up on the job (companies generally don't pay for courses for contractors) I ended up with heaps of experience but no paper qualifications.

18 months ago jobs started to dry up as the NZ Government (thank fuck they've been voted out) instigated an "open door" policy to immigration and suddenly there were heaps of Sri Lankans and Indians applying for IT and web jobs and only asking for a quarter of the going rate. They were all single and typically lived together, 6 to a two roomed apartment so could live relatively cheaply.

However I could see then writing on the wall and sure enough the day came when the development team was called into the Manager's office and told that we were either being made redundant or our contracts would be cancelled. On that friday we went to the pub and drowned our sorrows cursing the immigration laws and the farking Government.

I sat at home for the next two months doing seemingly what everybody else here did, wanking, spending countless hours on the tubes or watching day time TV, smoking way too much herb and drinking to excess. Applying for the most menial or mind destroying jobs just to get out of the house and mix with other adults. Getting more and more depressed and more frustrated. How come firms don't acknowledge your application? Not even to say "you're useless, fark off?"

Then I had a brain wave. Why not upskill and get that piece of paper that says you've attended all the courses and you're now officially skilled?

So I spent the next 10 months attending all sorts of courses - Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe Flash and Photoshop,and a few others and got the pieces of paper.

First job I applied for they offered it to me on the spot and the only difference was that I had pretty little certificates, I really didn't know that much more than a year previously, but the certificates got me the job.

I'm now working for the Government and rebuilding my cash reserves again.

So getting those bits of paper has been a godsend, something I should have done years ago and which will be my salvation in the future if the shit hits the fan again

Length - 10 months
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 3:57, 1 reply)
why the credit crunch happened.
"Frankly my dear, the trouble with the unemployed is they don't want to change. Well, we'll just have to force them. Ha ha, they won't be so smug now, having a nice little holiday at our exp...

Um, Bill? 'Unemployed' means when you have a job doesn't it?"
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 3:21, Reply)
Prawns festivals and backstabbers
Dammit, this QOTW has had me reliving events long gone and quietly seething about somethings I thought I'd forgotten, and smiling about others.
Hey ho

From the Thatcherite days to the present Ive had several periods of unemployment.
My first, just after dropping out of college after a tutor called me a Commie, wasnt actually that bad.
There just wasnt any employment to be had in my its grim oop north town.
So basically as long as you turned up to sign on every 2 weeks, the bored DSS workers just stamped your form and you toddled off, picked up your dole cheque a couple days later, and that was that.
I used to spend a lot of time in a drop in centre for the unemployed.
Free tea, trips out, playing some silly tennis/ping pong game on an old B&W neolithic computer.
I was applying for jobs all the time during this period.
One day some bigwig wanders in and asks if any of us want to attend a seminar on being unemployed.
Pay our fares, give us a few quid and feed and water us.
Well why not.
I'll never forget that day, mingling with the movers and shakers, the MP's and council top brass.
But most of all, the buffet they laid out on a huge banqueting table
Food I could only dream of, the likes of which were beyond my means.
Oh the vast plates of prawns, I adore prawns and ate enough to keep a walrus happy for a day.
The price we had to pay for that largesse was to take our turn on the podium and tell them big fellas what it was like to be unemployed and what we wanted.
When it got to my turn, i took great delight in removing from my bag a letter I had received that morning, informing me a job application had been successful and in 2 weeks I would be fully employed.
Cue much applause and back slapping.
At seminar close, someone asked what would be happening with the leftover food, to be told 'oh the cleaning staff will probably take it'
Cue someone producing many carrier bags which we proceeded to fill with gay abandon while the bigwigs looked down their noses at us.
We all ate like kings that weekend :)

The job unfortunately turned out to be a sweatshop nightmare health hazard and i walked out after a few weeks before I got maimed or killed in an uncovered vat of sulphuric acid.

Dole werent going to process my claim as i had voluntarily left.
But as soon as I told them the name of the place, they were all smiles and said no worries, they understood
They had processed claims from over 20 people in the last month who had walked out for fears of their life.
(The place was being investigated, and eventually shut down for the worst safety record known in that area)

cue Summer time, sign on, wait for dole cheque, then go travelling to festivals, hitch home in time to sign on again and then back on the road, happy days :)

Along the way I found my dream job.
Was as happy as pig in the brown stuff, I could spend all day doing what i loved the best, and took every overtime apportunity going.
However the boss was a wannabe pimp and my immediate supervisor was the bitch from hell.
Kept my head down and just got on with it.
My workmates were a great bunch, we partied often.
I was good at my job, I enjoyed it, was told so several times.
So it came as a total shock to be called into bosses office one day to be told that i had to go as i wasnt pulling my weight and people found it difficult to work with me.
To my shame I cried in his office, worked out my shift, went home and buried myself under the duvet for weeks.
Every time I saw any of my former workmates I would blank them, till a few weeks later one of them pulled me over and asked why I no longer spoke to any of them and why did i leave?
I told her why and she was horrified.
Seems my bitch supervisor hated anyone being good at the job and being popular, and had told the boss lies about me, and 3 other people who also were told to leave.
2 faced cow was applying for other jobs at the same time and left 2 weeks after me.
Even now several years later if I ever saw her I dont know what I'd do.
Lost my perfect, all i ever wanted dream job due to some spiteful saddo
Lost a month of my life crying that I was useless and no-one liked me, which turned out not to be true

gah! sorry

Long post
Anyway, good times being unemployed and bad times too.

Is currently unemployed after a serious fall, but is walking without a stick right now, so Yay :)
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 0:45, Reply)
I am in a good spot at the moment
however my boss has just moved to Portland - about an hour away from work. He got married to the love of his life but suddenly I'm not quite sure whether or not I'll have a job in six months time, cos he's not sure whether or not he's going to sell up the place to somebody else.

On the plus side - if he *does* sell up - he has to find me a new job because I'm signed onto a traineeship contract with him.

So while there *may* be a brief period of Unemployment, at least I'm not going to be left bereft without a means of continuing to save and save to go to the UK. Somehow it sounds really selfish I know - but I'm 17, and if I don't travel now I'll probably not ever get the opportunity again. :(
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 0:44, 2 replies)
cunting supermarkets
I spent the first 18 years of my life being unemployed, not by choice, you must understand, but because none of the shops out in the stix want an in(un?)experienced spotty teenager who isn't old enough to buy a can of lager.

I don't understand why shops don't want to hire a willing, honest, qualified, hard working person just because they are under 18... That is still one of my many niggles...

I mean, if they only want employees with expreience, how are people supposed to GET any experience!?

Sorry, rant over.
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 0:38, 5 replies)
london underground
the 'dolescum' t-shirt i bought at a league of gentlemen gig is the only item of clothing that has provoked people to talk to me on the tube. wrong.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 23:02, Reply)
I could answer this QOTW now
But I think I'll answer tomorrow afternoon. When I get out of bed.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 22:40, Reply)
Sometimes I manage to disgust myself. Was I really going to sink so low and put my plan in action?

Too fucking right I was.

And it was one of the best wanks I've ever had in my life.

But lets go back in time a bit - when I was in sixth form at school I had an economics teacher named Miss Gainey who instilled in me a lifelong passion and interest. Not in economics, fuck no. But in breasts. Whenever I needed help with anything she would come up behind my desk, take my pen, lean over me and work through some calculations in my exercise book. During these precious moments she'd park her unbelievably hot puppies on my head, it was a truly wonderful experience. Probably explains why I did so fucking well in this subject. Also probably explains the terrible upper back and neck pains I suffered from as a teenager - her tits were fucking huge and heavy.

I loved Miss Gainey. It was a pure, unsullied love, I was completely devoted to her - well, to her breasts. I was so in love with Miss Gainey that I even made sure I had a shower in the mornings on Tuesday and Thursday, the days I had economics with her. I was fucking infactuated, and to make matters worse she lived in the next street along from my parents house. I would often see her driving down my street and have to go inside quickly to masturbate furiously. Miss Gainey was, simply, wonderful.

And then that fateful day came when I left school and went to university and Miss Gainey was forgotten. I was far too busy masturbating over the fleeting glimpses of Joanna Smith on my course to pay the stored up memories of Miss Gainey in my wank bank any attention. Miss Gainey became a closed account, all spunk-related transactions ceased.

And then I finished uni and found myself back at my parents for a while, unemployed, not having a clue what I wanted to do with my life. All I used to do was play Championship Manager and go and sign on once a fortnight. It was fucking awesome. After a couple of months of this I started to get really bored, I remember approaching every business in the area to see if they needed any casual staff over the summer - I'd already decided to go back to uni to do my masters and just needed something to tide me over until September.

And thats how I landed the job at the laundrette.

Nice easy work. Sorting out service loads, fishing condoms out of the driers, giving people change for the machines. Piece of piss. And it was cash in hand, no need to involve that pesky taxman bastard. I was suddenly rich again.

One bright August morning I'm fucking about filling the soap dispenser machine when the door opens and I hear:

"Spanky? Spanky! Fancy seeing you here!"

I recognised the voice and so did my cock, which instantly went a little hard - the account in the wank bank was suddenly reinstated with full credit facilities.

I turned and saw her: "Miss Gainey!" She looked fucking hot! Both of them looked fucking hot actually, sat snugly in her summer blouse, straining as if they wanted to be released so they could rest on my head again, just like old times.

I explained to Miss Gainey I was working in the laundrette just until I got back to uni again, she seemed really interested in what I was up to. After we'd had a breif chat she handed me over a big bag of washing and asked when it would be ready to pick up. Instantly I told her it would be ready tomorrow morning and she left, and I looked down at the bag and my perversion levels started to go atomic.

And with good cause.

I dumped the contents in the closest washing machine, having a good feel and look at all the cloths. Miss Gainey was a bit of an emo chick out of work! Fuck me! Who would've thought. And at the bottom of her laundry bag I hit dirty-fucker pay dirt gold: I found a big collection of her tangled-up panties.

For a fleeting, brief moment I considered putting them in the machine. But it was as if my body had been taken over by a higher power, a power so strong I just couldn't fight it, some kind of god of perversion had taken control of my limbs.

And thats how the panties ended up in my satchel. Thats how, later that evening in my room at my parents house, after a breif battle with my conscience, I found myself stark bollock naked on my bed, stroking my boner, while I rifled through Miss Gainey's soiled undies, sniffing them, rubbing the gussets, even putting a few pairs over my head and inhaling deeply, enjoying the rich beefy flavors of Miss Gainey's fanny batter.

And, I have to say, it was an absolutely tremendous wank. I must've shed half a stone in bodyweight, the amount of jizz I spewed. I very nearly passed out.

It was a monumental achievement.

When I'd finished I gathered together the pants, took them downstairs with some of my laundry, and washed and dried them in my parents machine.

Feeling rather pleased with myself the next day at work I waited for Miss Gainey to turn up to collect her service wash. I'd even had a shower.

Eventually, my ex economics teacher walks in, I smile and wave and go and retrieve her cleanly laundered clothing.

"Thanks, Spanky," she says. "How much do I owe you?"

We settle the bill, as she's going out the door Miss Gainey turns and says: "You really got me out of a hole, Spanky. I usually use my washing machine at home, but my daughter dumped all this washing on me after she got back from holiday with her father, we're seperated you see, and it was too much for my little machine to handle. For a fourteen year old girl she produces an awful lot of dirty laundry! Anyway, Spanky, see you around."

And she leaves.

And I feel like I might be suddenly sick.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 22:22, 24 replies)
I was on the dole for a couple
of months after leaving Uni.

Now the problem was that I lived in Manchester and my boyfriend had been offered a job in Derby. So of he went to Derby leaving me living in our rented flat on my own.

Now from talking to friends I found that the dole office would expect his wages to cover my rent too and they wouldn't give me housing benefit. The advice was to say we had split up.

Worried about this I headed to the dole office to sign on for the first time.

When I got to see the signing on person I was surprised to see it was my landlord. Happily he didn't mind letting his flat to dole scum and made sure I got the housing benefit I needed.

I was the envy of my fellow recently ex students that my sign on time was in the afternoon.
Surely if everyones sleep pattern reverts to nocturnal while on the dole then this must be our natural sleep pattern.

While signing on I worked, voluntarily, for a theatre company. Many of the other people involved where signing on also.
One actor told me that he had a days work doing a advert voice over.
The next week he had gone to the dole office to sign on.
"Have you done any work in the last week"
"was it more than 16 hours"
"OK then sign here"

Didn't seem to worry them that he had been paid a grand. Only that he had not worked for more than 16 hours.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 22:19, Reply)
Tales of the unemployed volume five
2002. I'm on a night out (nurses night in Morpeth - last Wednesday of every month. Bloody meat market). I'm standing having a pint in a bar with my mate Alan, when I notice this bloke giving me the eye.

Eventually he comes over to me.

"Alright?" he asks.

"Erm, yeah. Good, thanks", I reply, somewhat disconcerted. What the fuck does this guy want?

"You work in the Jobcentre in Alnwick, don't you?"

Aw, shit. Not what I need at this moment. A pissed off punter.

"I did, but I left a few months ago. I'm doing something else now".

"You interviewed me about a year ago".

My arsehole starts putting like a rabbits' nose at this point, sphincter contracting and expanding rapidly - one penny, bin lid, one penny, bin lid. Had I actually eaten anything, I probably would have shat myself and cried at that point.

"Oh, did I?"


A brief pause.

"Yeah. You were the only person in that place that treated me like a human being in the short time I was signing on. And you gave me the details for the job I'm doing now. Cheers. What you drinking?"

One pint of Tetley's later, and I'm his best mate. Metaphorically speaking, that is.

So you see, if you work in a Jobcentre, never ever piss off the clients. There might be a beer in it for you at some point.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 21:06, 3 replies)
Accademic contracts
I'm postdocing. The contract runs out in June and I'm getting nowhere fast looking for either an industry job or another academic post. There isn't a lot of call for physicists with my skills, and most of the jobs floating around are pretty much guaranteed to be earmarked for someone's recently finished PhD student.

There is a slim chance I'll hear this coming week if I've got an interview for a job x-raying old stuff. That or I'll give up on science and see what I can get herding servers.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 21:03, 2 replies)
Jobcentre staff
I had never had the pleasure of encountering the staff of the jobcentre until i lost my job over christmas, i had always thought that they must be fairly decent people, i mean their job is to help other people find jobs so surely they must be friendly, patient and above all intelligent, how wrong i have turned out to be.

the following have all been said to me in utter seriousness and taken place within the last three months:

"Do you have a car?"
"So you can't work as a driver in Greenock?"
"Then i take it you can't work as a driver in Glasgow?"

"Are you a qualified electrician?"
"No, if i was i wouldn't be here, i would be working as an electrician (nervously laughs)"
"It's just we have a job vacancy for an electrician in Aberdeen"
"Do you know any electricians?"
"(eyes glaze over) No"

"What about this vacancy, it looks perfect for you"
"(looks at screen) Um...I dont think so"
"Why not, its exactly the kind of job you have loads of experience for?"
"Its just that (points to job description section on screen)"
"In your initial jobseeker interview you specificaly put that you were looking for something in the retail sector and you have retail and supervisor experience, why arent you interested?"
"Because in the job description section it says must have experience in selling lingerie and bra fitting!"
"Oh so it does, (laughs) I don't look at those bits most of the time!"

and my personal favourite

"Are you putting covering letters on your cv?"
"Yeah, to be honest im that bored im writing different ones for each place i hand it into"
"Thats good, just make sure you actually go into places to hand them in rather than posting them if you can"
"I do, i learned that from my last job, the manager used to throw most of the cv's away because we had too many on file"
"Plus it means people know who they will be considering hiring, they dont want to end up with some Filipino (laughs)"
"...Im sorry?"
"You know, people from the Philipines, we had a bunch of them in a few weeks ago, absolutley useless the lot of them! One of them said they would even clean steets if he had to, i mean can you imagine that, people would go mental if a foreigner was working out in the public, wouldn't they?"
"...Im not sure, I don't think they would be bothered to be honest"
"Oh well different times i guess"

and tomorrow i get to go again! hooray for unemployment adventures!

p.s i sent a cv to that lingerie job but didn't hear back
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 20:17, 1 reply)
Talk about takin the urine ..
I left the Air Force years ago, and didnt have anything to fall back on. So im in the Job Centre for the 4th time now, having put my brave face on that morning to go there. Stood in the queue and there's a fella further down the line who looks familiar, and to my disgust i was right!

Basically, this guy was from Iraq and owned a corner shop round the corner of my mums. Absolutely nothing wrong with that at all, BUT ...
during the first gulf war (Desert Storm i think) he actually surrendered his passport, left for Iraq and FOUGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN GUARD ... AGAINST OUR TROOPS ! This isnt just hearsay, it was local knowledge.

Imagine how angry i was when it was my turn and i was told that i was no longer entitled to Job Seekers pocket money ?

Still makes my shudder just thinking about it ...
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 20:01, 6 replies)
In the job centre...
...and my sister comes in.

'Hi Sis, what you doing in here? I thought you were working this week?'

Sis rolls her eyes, and glances at the signing on desk.

'Shut UP you twat!..' she shouty-whispers through gritted teeth.

'Oh shit, sorry sis' giggles me.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 19:41, 9 replies)
being on the dole sucks,,
..but still, the hours are flexible and the holidays are very generous.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 19:38, 2 replies)
I signed on for a while a few years ago...
Five years later the Job Centre had closed and I was working at a desk, three feet from where I'd sat waiting to sign on.

I bloody won that one!
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 19:06, Reply)
New Deal?
news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/7982550.stm - Are they really that bad?

The Irish equivalent of JobCentrePlusMaxExtra (tm)(c) is FAS. They run a respectable website updated regularly with job listings. The training courses aren't always forced on you and if you choose to take one, most of the costs are covered.

The dole office however, now there's a pit of despair. Vapid unemployable titheads (and that's just the desk staff) staring out from behind the glass with pure indifference oozing from every pore. And with a 2-month delay in processing in some branches, nobody seems to have any hope of getting things moving,

I've had to sign on in the past and it's a horrible experience. I needed a bit of financial help, I wasn't exactly thrilled to be in the invidious position of signing-on but it was nice to know that I had somewhere to turn for assistance.

The wankers in the dole office made it their collective goal to make it as difficult as possible. Wrong info, no folllow-up, ignoring calls and letters, every possible delay and confuse tactic deployed.

The big civil-service shakeup should see a few of those work-shy cunts on the other side of the glass for the first time and I hope they get the same treatment I did.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 16:08, 2 replies)
Re-employment is the reason
I now average about 2 posts a week on b3ta instead of my early 2006 peak of a few hundred.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:56, Reply)
I went on a Restart,
and they held it in the back room of a pub!
Unfuckingbelievable. When 11.30 came, Some of Yorkshires' finest just wandered to the bar, got a beer, and had a chat about the weeks' crimes, telly etc. The poor guy doing it just stared, and tried talking over them. Like something out of Little Britain.
And does anyone remember the 80's advert for Job Club? The one where two guys with dodgy Geordie accents meet up, and come out with the immortal lines, "Ya coming down the club?"
"The social club?"
"Nah man the Job Club. It's great. You get free stamps and everything."
Patronising you back into the workforce or what?
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:40, Reply)
Restart Buddies
I ended up on New Deal in the late 90's and had to do some sort of restart scheme. I chose a TV and Film Production course that was based in Battersea.

The course was OK, but there I met a fellow student called Tim, who was a DJ at a nearby hospital radio station.

We had a laugh and subsequently worked together on loads of projects. We were often unemployed at the same time, and would use that time productively writing and directing plays instead of just shooting pool down the pub in the afternoons (though I'm sure we did that once or twice too).

When he started to break into radio, he would always generously involve me in creative ways. It was a tremendous confidence boost and gave me the experience and credits to find my first steps into TV production.

The last time I spoke to him he was a successful radio producer for the BBC. We've lost touch due to having families, moving to opposite ends of London and whatnot, but if anyone sees him today: Tim. Cheers mate. You were one of the best things to come out of my unemployment.

Let's have a beer soon.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:26, 1 reply)
The trouble with the unemployed is,
they don't WANT to work!
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:20, 7 replies)
I loved signing on,
but being a lazy drug monkey meant I was often a day late.
The office monkey always asked me my reasons for not turning up.
I always replied, "I don't know" looking gormless. I always got let off.
They objected to me using my signing on card as roach/ pub phone directory too.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:56, Reply)
I've got a great business idea.
It's a chain of shops called Beat the Credit Crunch.

Basically it'll sell cheap vodka, razors, and rope.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:50, 5 replies)
Tales of the unemployed volume four
I had a fairly 'interesting' caseload of clients in my time as jobcentre monkey.

There was the big ginger bloke with an unfortunate aversion to any form of deodorising body products. After half an hour with him, my eyes would be watering and as soon as he left the office the air freshener would have to come out to fumigate not only the area of my desk, but also half of the office as well for good measure. And sometimes the chair.

There was the guy who had never done anything in his life other than casual farm labour in the lambing season. Except that he always looked like he had been working the land prior to coming in; his fingernails were the blackest I'd ever seen and he permanently smelled as though he had just shit himself. He got special treatment - he had his very own chair which lived in a cupboard and was whipped out prior to his arrival so he could sit and forcibly grind his shitty dunghampers in to the fabric. When he left, the air freshener would come out again in a half-hearted attempt to render it smelling vaguely normal. Then it would be put away again for a fortnight.

There was Mick, a former Hollywood sound engineer who had worked for the BBC in the 60's but went freelance after his mate Ken Loach asked him to go and work on Kes. Most of our interviews were spent talking about TV and film; he brought his photo scrap book in with pictures of him and various stars, including Katherin Hepburn. A nice guy.

There was the mad old dear who was batted between Jobseekers Allowance and Incapacity Benefit like a human shuttlecock. Completely incapable of any form of employment whatsoever, nervous as fuck and with a propensity to burst into tears at the offer of coming to take a seat. Think she still lived with her mum. I always had a glass of water handy for her.

The almost blind kid who always came in with his mother. Desperate to work, but lived in the arse end of nowhere with one bus out of it in the morning. I spent a whole morning with him once getting him off Jobseekers and onto Disability Living Allowance as the likelihood of him finding work, no matter how much he wanted it, was practically zero. And while I was at it I got his mother sorted too as she had a heart condition that severly restricted her activities. Really nice kid, but really shouldn't have been signing on - as I said to him, being on DLA doesn't stop you from looking for work, but it does mean you're not having to get a taxi in here every fortnight.

The weasely, repulsive 50-something bloke. Always unshaven and unkempt; looked like he would stand in the school bike shed during lesson time and sniff the bike seats. No one else would see him, so I was lumbered. Two years after I left he was convicted of child abuse and locked up. Didn't see that one coming, oh no. Not.

Following on from him was the utter turd of a human being who had knowingly infected his really sweet girlfriend with HIV. Not content with that little trick, and obviously feeling that he could go one better, he subsequently went on to murder a tramp by clubbing him over the head and dumping his body in the sea, where it was washed up on shore a few days later. Currently serving life in prison.

Michael, the slightly odd guy who lived on a boat in Amble harbour. Turned up one week to sign on; the receptionist half saw him and said "Take a seat, Michael, I'll be two minutes". She was slightly taken aback when this 6-foot, built like a brick shithouse bloke in a dress announced in a booming voice, "Actually, it's Rachel now". Yep, he was undergoing gender reassignment. I have heard a rumour that he's a bloke again now, probably because he got fed up of his National Insurance account being locked and requiring special access every time he came in to sign on - apparently this is a legal requirement; you can't just log into someone's case file if they've changed sex. Fuck knows why. It used to really piss him/her off. Ianglepoise might be able to confirm that one for me.

And finally for now, the punter who was always, ALWAYS late for his interviews. A hopeless alcoholic, he was one of the 'get them in, get them signed and get them out' brigade; the statutory 2% of the caseload that are marked as unhelpable. Didn't turn up for one interview, so I closed his claim down.

Turned out he had a good excuse for not coming in on account of the fact that he'd hung himself that very morning, the prospect of a restart interview with me obviously too much to bear. It was at that point that I thought I'd maybe better modify my interviewing technique in case any of the other punters decided to go the same way...
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:32, 8 replies)
The boyfriend
On the dole, applying for jobs, everything going alright if making him feel a bit down.

Then he sees the jobcentre has changed his address. Hmm. "Hello? You changed my address, please change it back." "Oh, alright, sorry."

All goes well again, as well as not getting a job can go. He gets put on a course called New Deal which involves a lot of unemployed being made to sit in some rooms which contain several computers, only one of which as the internet, and a few old papers. He leaves. He had more luck before this "active job seeking course".

He signs back on. "You need ID." Bugger, The Safe Place vortex has swirled his passport and birth certificate away so well hidden he can't locate it. "Oh well, just answer this secret question. A while ago you changed your address- what to?" "Eh?! You changed it, not me! I got you to change it back so I don't know." "I see, in that case we can't help you." "Here are some letters you sent me, will these do?" "No, we don't accept our own documentation."

I'm glad I'm in a part time job, even if it is crappy...
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:26, Reply)
Oh What wonderful timing
Some may consider me a bit of a muppet for having left university just as the whole credit crunch was beginning to bite (Oct 08), but for me it was in some ways a saviour.

At that point in time I was half way through a PhD which was well and truly pushing me to the brink of madness, thanks to the addition of a major building project on site. This mix of builders plus research meant a couple of trips to the psychiatrist and the joy of happy pills. So after taking a short break away, I decided that leaving was my best option. I was fed up of the side effects of happy pills and wanted to be clean.

I tried to get a job quickly out of a desire to be doing something other than being faced with the horror of daytime TV. However, after having no success after a few weeks I accepted that I needed to sign on and use the jobcentre's services.(I've since found out that the likes of the armed forces won't take people who admit to needing happy pills for safety reasons - you'd think they'd want a unit of madmen to send into a trouble spot.)

Thankfully I've managed to find something other than daytime TV to fill my time - the local gym plus a few old video games I had in my collection. Along with catching up on sleep - something that I have begun to enjoy, as it's free . Also the time away from working has allowed me to come off the meds completely.

Unfortunately I did have an encounter with a basketball that left me with a sprained ankle, and allowed me to encounter the bureaucracy of job centre sick forms, as it put me on crutches. More than 2 weeks and they put you on incapacity benefit, so I forced myself to walk to avoid the faff of transferring between the two in quick succession.

The two things I dislike about my situation are:
1) the jobcentre staff who try to encourage me to take posts with fewer hours than I know will cover the bills, but will also prevent you from claiming income support. which makes you worse off than being unemployed.

2) bank staff who don't want to print your bank balances because one of your accounts is set up for online access. I've encountered one such jobsworth at the bank of scotland.

I've also had plenty of time to think about teaching as a career path. currently it seems a good choice for someone with a chemistry degree, especialy if you can persuade the school to let you perform visually wild demonstrations.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:16, 2 replies)
I'm practising being a dolie.
I'm claiming, but I'm not actually unemployed. I've been off with an operation for 3 months now, and it's worse than being on the dole. For a start, try going to the Jobcentre in a cast. Yes, they can make you. Apparently your GP writing "Non weight bearing cast right leg" doesn't mean fuck.

That means a taxi that can take a wheelchair. That means getting the surgery to write a letter to the Jobcentre. That means getting a receipt that takes 3 weeks to be repaid. I'm one of the lucky ones. A mate had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and the cunts scheduled an interview the same day he had chemo. Luckily the Macmillan social worker stepped in and tore them a new one, or he'd be have been homeless and bald.

Anyway, rant over. There is an upside, and it's bittorrent and 4OD. For the last 7 years I've worked nights and earlies, so now I'm catching up on the Sopranos, the Wire, and the comedies that I missed. (I watched all 3 series of the IT Crowd in 2 days). And the sleep, oh, the sleep. I like sleep, especially uninterrupted by kids, traffic noise and the sounds of next door testing his bass box.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 12:15, Reply)
And our survey says: Part the Seconde
As you will have (possibly if you can be that fucked) read below, I used to moonlight for a company that did "mystery shopper" surveys for a number of public sector institutions, including the Jobcentre.

One day, I was asked to do a survey on a new Jobcentre Plus that had just opened following a major refurbishment. Part of my survey on this occasion involved talking to a number of staff and customers about their views on the new building. The views were mainly positive from the customers, and the building looked nicely done out, so I sat down with a staff member and had a chat with them.

"To be honest," he said "most of it is a good idea. The only problem is that we used to be in cubicles with security glass. Now we're at desks because apparently it makes us more approachable. Nothing has happened yet, but it's only a matter of time....EVERYBODY GET DOWN"

With a sense of comic timing that only the true mentally unbalanced can acheive, a man with a machete ran screaming into the Jobcentre and started attacking a bloke at the next desk. Luckily the security guards who were relatively switched on (not fucking switched on enough to not let the mad bastard through the door though) managed to take him down. I then had to abandon my interview and start treating the guy with a nasty machete wound to his arm.

That was an interesting report to put in. I stopped working for them shortly afterwards.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 8:07, 2 replies)
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."

"Oh..er...I'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, 8 replies)

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