The joys of being long-term unemployed.

Courtesy of the Jobcentre – this week I have started the 6 month long ‘Community work programme’ hosted by a company in Catford.

I had the induction on Monday morning – which was fine & not many people were about (in fact I was the only person in the building when I arrived). But then it was my first day was yesterday, and that was an entirely different ballgame. As the gods of public transport like to punish me as frequently as possible – the buses were super speedy & I arrived at my destination about 40 minutes early;  The destination being a church hall that had been taken over by the course provider.  I decided to hang back for 10 minutes as I was so early, but then as I was cold – I gave up & decided to go forth.  I was greeted outside by a horde of the great unwashed, when I started walking through the crowd, I heard the chant of a pint sized man, “make way for the beautiful lady”, while a lady – whom I initially had thought was a man, shushed him as I could hear him?!
I held my breath & squeezed past as quickly as I could, only to be met by a queue of approximately 50 people.  I gazed across the sea of eyesores & found the first clean &  sane looking person, a portly gentleman – and asked him if this was the queue to sign in.  He and his friends, gave a loud toothless chuckle – laughing at me for being so early  & informed me it was actually the queue to claim back travel.

So I quickly departed & went back outside – thinking I could just find a solitary spot to smoke & linger for the remaining time;
But it had started pissing down, like a biblical flood had come to wash away this level of hell and I was unable to find unclaimed shelter, so I made my way back in and hid in the toilets.
I scented the air with my perfume,to mask it’s stale aroma, then stared into the mirror whilst fixing my hair & make up – and contemplated how I’m actually a bit of a snob.
After much deliberation –  I decided that no, I wasn’t –  I really was just better than everyone else around me;  So my mind at ease, I spent the rest of my time reading my book.

As it came close to 1pm, my appointment time, I made my way back into the entrance hall, still crowded with people queuing for travel expenses, where I was made to wait a further 30 or so minutes. It was within this time that it became clearly apparent that in Catford, or at least this venue – I was a fucking goddess!
I’m not being arrogant – the criteria was set pretty low: there wasn’t many women there, I don’t look deformed, my hair was clean, I wasn’t wearing pyjamas – and generally speaking, it’s pretty obvious that I put pride & effort into my appearance – Then the fact that I’m a size 10 and 5ft 10″ tall  – so I’m probably the closest thing to a super model these peasants will ever likely encounter.
So I was forced to endure creepy lurky men lingering around me, thankfully my resting bitch face made only a few brave enough to attempt to chat me up, all were quickly rebuffed – or just blatantly ignored.
Then my advisor appeared, as as he wasn’t organised enough – or just couldn’t be bothered, me and the other new starters were ushered into a room with a different advisor with an existing group; Going by the decor, this room was usually the local scout hut.

I met the new ‘advisor’, whom I had actually previously met on another ridiculous “workability” course, she rejoiced in seeing me, telling me how much she had always liked me & how fabulous I am.
She then insisted on making us all wait for other people to appear,  which took us until about 2.10pm.    She then started talking to the class – but not about the programme, no. She informed us, if she was “snappy” with anyone, or emotional, it was because she had lost her father over the New year, in doing so, she started to cry.
I didn’t really think this was the time or place for such emotional-sharing, – but I though, fair enough, that’s sad, blah blah.
But she didn’t stop there, this went on to a 10 minute talk all about her dad, even walking around showing us photos of him.
Then as people started talking amongst themselves, she flipped and went co-co for coco pops, shouting at people to shut up & about respect, how she would throw us out of her class & we wouldn’t come back.

After she had settled down, we were set a group task to write down things we needed/wanted help with from this course. The groups were formed by the people sat at the same table,  My table being one the smallest, only having me & 3 others, a lady in her 40’s, that didn’t want to talk to anyone, another lady – I *guess* in her 60’s, with greasy hair, the worst over-hanging eyelids I’d ever seen, bright red lip liner with no lipstick, half her teeth missing – but with one that seemed to protrude out her mouth as she spoke.  Then a guy in his 40’s called Andrew,  he was actually ok  –  just dim. He is deaf in one ear – which he informed me was due to his mother being ginger?! there was also something else wrong with him, I can’t remember what – but that was due to having Irish heritage.  Both him & snaggletooth had both taken quite a liking to me.

We started the task – and I soon discovered that I was actually the only person in group that was able to ‘properly’ read & write, snaggletooth informed me she had “real troubles with it”- and the other two didn’t think it was one of their stronger skills.    We had about 20 minutes to complete this task – and then we were told we could have a break; snaggletooth informed me she would follow me  we could go grab a coffee together -I think she was under the impression I would be her new BFF, so I quickly lost her & dashed outside for a cigarette, the rain had stopped – so I found empty bench and claimed it as my own.
Andrew quickly found me and informed me of the free coffee, I asked if it tasted like liquid arse, he told me it didn’t and then insisted I stayed put while he would go fetch one for me, I didn’t even attempt to stop him, as having a man-servant is fine by me, so I told him to get on with it.
I was fully utilising having him hanging around me like a puppy
– He wasn’t too offensive to look at, I could tolerate & understand the conversation & his presence meant I was left un-bothered by others.
On his return to the bench, he pointed out something that I had totally failed to observe –
“Is that mistletoe hanging up there”, and without hesitation, I informed him it wasn’t.
Urgh! what kind of cunt would hang mistletoe in such a place?!

After we came back from the break, it was about 3.15  & the advisor informed us that we could leave early, which was fabulous not having to stay until 5pm.  From next week, it will be different –  being in the dumb-dumb class was just a one off –  as I am actually able to use a computer & as I already have a work placement -a local organisation I’ve been volunteering for since October, I get to stay with them, work 4 days/30 hours a week -and  thankfully I only do one day in Catford for my “assisted job search”; which means from now on, Monday afternoon’s – I get the joy of travelling 1.5 – 2 hours to Catford, just to sit in what would normally be the church hall cafeteria,  to use one of their computers to do a job search for four hours, so I have that – the travel expense queue and the probability  of having to make a new ‘friend’ to look forward to, as being left alone will most likely not be an option.


One thought on “The joys of being long-term unemployed.

  1. See the bright side, at least it’s (just?) one day a week. I’m in a similar position, even if a different situation. A full time job where I get the joys of supervising people who can’t read “danger: risk of death” can prove challenging. And there I am, nearly snorting dust and having cold sweats, writing risk assessments -in clear English, second language- only I can understand, looking for work from my workplace and sharing a train ride home with the very people I was hoping I won’t see until tomorrow. And if you wonder who I am, it’s the cheeky vampire you last time saw in October. Happy brew Year?


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