Just reading up on jobs, the unemployed, and how there’s about six people for every job out there, and not every job is enough to cover basic costs of living, and nobody’s allowed any benefits to keep themselves above the bread line and… yeah, uplifting stuff like that.
It’s made me want to reminisce about my time(s) on the dole. So why not, eh?
I had two stints on jobseeker’s allowance. First time I signed on was my birthday in 2005, which provided much hilarity in the job centre. “Happy birthday!” the man said, hilariously. It’s not that it wasn’t hilarious, it’s just that he beat me to the punch so I got annoyed with him.
My problem was never a lack of ability – I’m not thick and I am professionally qualified. In other words, so long as my CV sparkles or I have someone on the inside put in a word for me, I have a chance of getting the jobs I want.
This isn’t arrogance, just truth: I am not the usual millions of jobseekers out there.
The millions out there with less qualifications, less ability to do something as saleable or diversifiable as I can do – those that have to actually rely on the jobs available on those pissy little computers in the job centre… well, I feel sorry for them. Genuinely.
Part of the dole routine is applying for about three jobs every two weeks – might be more these days – which meant I had to root through the computers for things, even though I knew I didn’t want to do them. I ended up applying for a job as Santa at the Trafford Centre once, which was actually offered to me – but it turned out the cost of getting there and back every day wasn’t financially viable with the wage paid.
I also looked at a lot of security guard jobs – me, the massive pacifist (read: coward), doing something like that? Well, fortunately the job centre staff didn’t seem to know or care that you needed a special licence to work in roles like that.
There’s a hint, unemployed folk: if you don’t actually want a job, apply for the ones that need licences that cost hundreds of pounds to obtain. Seemed to work okay for me.
But god, some of the stuff was tantamount to slavery. The information handed out on the jobs themselves isn’t enough – a great deal of them simply don’t tell you how long you’ll work or how much you’ll be paid. Why would you apply for something without that knowledge?
But there’s the mentality: you’re on the dole, you should be taking anything you can get. It permeates through society. If you’re on the dole you’re a lazy dosser. If you’re taking benefits you’re stealing my tax money. If you’re jobless then you’re scrounging.
I was trying to get a job, but I was failing to get a job. But that was more my own laziness than anything else. The times when I really wanted – needed – to get a job, I got one. Both times. Almost straight away. So I’m not the finest example of dole scum.
But there are so many out there who are legitimately on the dole for the Right Reasons, who need help and support and are looking for what they can get. But they’re barely helped. They’re shat on. They’re treated like idiots by the (often well-meaning) staff at the job centre, and they’re dismissed as scrubbers and scum by many members of the public and the media.
But it ain’t easy. It’s not as simple as just taking the job because it’s there in front of you on the computer. Especially when you know nothing about it.
I lost my point here. It’s just aimless brain-wandering by now. I feel sorry for those genuinely trying to get out of the quagmire of hopelessness that is unemployment. Many aren’t as lucky as I am, and I’m not even very lucky.
I think I’ve depressed myself by writing this. YEAH.