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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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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, closed)
did you have the juddering unfortunate bad luck to work? Blakelaw?
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:35, closed)
'Nuff said.

These are all true cases by the way. Who says rural Northumberland is dull?
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 14:39, closed)
I was born there. I'm so sorry.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:51, closed)
Alnwick's OK
It's just some of the people that inhabit the place are a bit odd.

But not a odd as people in Amble, where the majority of my caseload seemed to come from.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 19:59, closed)
I knew a bloke from those parts once
He told me people from Amble were a bit weird. "They eat their bairns there, man!"
(, Mon 6 Apr 2009, 8:57, closed)
You had
Katherine Hepburn in your jobcenter?
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:22, closed)
for vagueness :)
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 15:24, closed)
Locked NI account
Yes, anything due gender re-assignment makes the case sensitive access.
(, Sun 5 Apr 2009, 17:50, closed)

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