Monday, 19 October 2009

Will Blog For Cash………

I’m nothing but a bum. A dirty, good for nothing bum. A wastrel, a miscreant who sits alone in his flat daily, wearing nothing but soiled underwear, shovelling microwave meals into a fat open mouth, cramming it in with both hands, slobber running down my chin, while piggy little eyes stare vacantly at the TV screen as it beams an endless procession of mindless images directly into my soul. I’m an outcast, a work shy free loader who deserves nothing but your contempt. If i was on fire, you wouldn’t spare the water to put me out, in fact, you would probably find something even more flammable to put on me, like jet fuel or something? I am an insignificant human being, and that is how you, yes you, society, view me, as you sit up high in your ivory white tower, all dressed in your top hats, monocles and brandishing canes, as you lean over your porcelain balcony and scrape the leftovers from the gourmet meal you have just scoffed into your posh faces over the side, as it falls to me, and others like me, as we lie writhing in our own filth and excrement below, and howl, howl to the moon!………..

I’m sorry; I don’t know what came over me there? What was I talking about? Oh yeah, that's right. I’m unemployed.

I am an unemployed human being. I am……. one of them!

I used to be employed, and now I’m sadly not. And the best thing, the thing that really does make it that whole lot more interesting and fun, I am unemployed during quite possibly the most severe recession known to man, where we basically are surviving by wearing clothes made out of our own pets, and boiling our own shoes for a nourishing meal.

It’s not much fun, believe me.

I used to have a routine. I would wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep, and then do it all over again the very next day, just like everyone else did. And it was comforting, that routine. True, it was monotonous, you would probably moan about it continuously as you struggled with the crowds on the tube, all of you packed in like cattle on the way to the slaughterhouse, but I tell you something, you really miss it when its gone.

I used to be in banking. And then I woke up one day and found that I wasn’t in banking any more. But it was OK. I had my police application that was nearly completed, I had done the hard part, passed all the exams and interviews, just the medical next, and then it was only a matter of time before I was given my placement. I could ride out a month of being unemployed.

And then I failed the medical due to my hearing issues.

Bugger……

Now things were serious. Suddenly a ticking clock in my head started to count down like in Jack Bauer’s worst nightmare. I was unemployed!

A cold clammy hand was now clenched tightly around my heart. What was I going to do? How was I going to live? What the hell was I going to do for a new job?

Lucky for me, I own my flat outright. I had no mortgage on it, so at least the roof over my head was safe. And I have basically survived by living off credit cards, a massive blow as I had only recently (and quite proudly) declared myself debt free. But I had no available savings to hand, so sadly I have been funding myself from my nice new shiny plastic cards. My flexible friends, who at some point are going to come back and bite me on the backside. Hard.

So now my days consist of this. Wake up, go to the computer, and spend hours looking online for jobs that thousands of others are currently looking for as well. And handily for me, most job adverts have a lovely little counter in the corner of them to tell you exactly how many other people have looked at the same advert as you. And let me tell you, its many.

Now the strange thing is, after time, my whole daily routine has suddenly taken a slow slide into the realms of the unusual. I am naturally a night person, a combination of suffering from the aforementioned insomnia, and the simple fact it’s just a part of my genetic makeup, I found over a period of time that the moment I was finally getting off to bed was getting later and later, and I was also now waking up around the same time that most students were. I had turned into a nocturnal vampire, but minus the inherent sexiness and thirst for human blood, I just hungered for chocolate biscuits.

I was basically turning feral. Everyone I knew was at work, so there was no one to talk to. It was just me and the cat. Now normally my cat isn’t the most social of creatures. Unless there was some form of food in it for her, she wasn’t really interested. Suddenly the flat has started to seem much smaller, and the world outside much, much bigger. I resisted the urge to cover up my windows in black bin liners and make a loincloth from stale bread, I wasn’t quite at the Lord Of The Flies stage just yet, but needless to say, I am now forcing myself to take nice walks outside more often.

And then there came the moment that I hoped wouldn’t come. The day I had to……oh god, it pains me to say it……I had to……. (Deep breath)……sign on. (For others not living in the UK. When you sign on, it basically means you claim benefits)

I really didn’t want it to come to this, I really didn’t. I hoped that I would find something before then, but after countless rejection letters, and ever mounting bills, I had to swallow my pride and go down to our local Jobseekers office.

It was hell, and basically brought the inner snob in me racing to the surface. Imagine if Paris Hilton was dumped in the middle of a leper colony, that was me the first time a signed on. I know it doesn’t paint me in a particularly shining light, but it was true.

“I don’t belong here, I really don’t” I would whine to myself, as I faced the utter humiliation of lining up with all the other lowlifes, those who were just claiming because they couldn't really be arsed to work, not like me. I was a member of society, I wasn’t really meant to be here, this was all some horrible mistake, and someone was going to offer me a job any minute now and take me away from all of this.

This rather awful thinking stayed with me for my first few times of visiting the offices to claim my money.

And then something changed.

I wouldn’t really call it an epiphany, more like someone giving me a massive slap round the face and screaming at me, “You are an arse!”

I was lining up as usual, when I saw a rather smartly dressed man looking at me with obvious dislike. I couldn’t really understand his thinly veiled contempt for me. And then I managed to catch my reflection in the glass frame that contained one of the many motivational posters that were dotted around the office. I was beardy, my hair was scruffy, and the collar of my shirt was sticking up. I looked like all the other people I was stupidly dismissive of the first time I visited the office. I looked unemployed. And that was obviously why the man was looking at me like I was nothing. He thought I was scum.

And that forced me for the first time to really look around me, to take a long hard look at my fellow job seekers. And I could finally understand how painfully ignorant I had been. I didn’t know anything about these people, their lives, their problems; I was just making blind assumptions due to my own misguided views.

There were a few that you know were just abusing the system. They stuck out like a sore thumb, openly bragging about it in fact. I even had one man do a drug deal over his phone whilst waiting to sign on one time. You were always going to elements like that.

I also saw young mothers come in with their children, overheard many frustrated conversations about whole families with no money, asking how they were going to find work, any work, and also survive. These were people that were probably in the same position as me. Safely in work one day, and then sadly not the next. And the worst thing is, the only person I have to worry about is me (and the cat) I don't have to worry about where the food for my children is coming from, or how I am going to keep the roof over my head.

It was a grim eye opener, it really was. At least I have a decent work history to go in my favour; I will be employable at some point. I now know that others might not be as fortunate.

When I do find work, and please god may it be soon, I know now I will have a better understanding of the state of this country, we have let an awful lot of people down in the way things have been run, and sadly, there are far too many people that are going to struggle out of it.

I just hope I’m not one of them.

17 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! That was quite a post. I do hope you find employment soon. I recently retired, although if I had not, I too would have been looking. My co-workers in the same division of my company were all laid off this month. I'm fortunate that I was of retirement age and did have a pension and a nest egg. I still worry whether the nest egg will be enough, but for the time being, at least, I can get by. Some of my co-workers have families to support; my children, thankfully, are all grown and doing well financially. Hopefully, that doesn't change for them. Again, I wish you luck and hope something good comes your way soon.

Alice in Wonderland said...

Dan, I can't imagine how hard it must be for you, and me, a fellow Brit, am ashamed at the way some of these people are treat. I know quite a few of people who have degrees and are very well educated, yet they can't find work either. It must just feel terribly degrading just to have to go to Job Centres, never mind line up with these people who just scrounge off society. But I know how you must be feeling. Christmas is just around the corner, but there is still these arse-holes hanging around not even making an effort to find a job!
Luckily you have your own flat, so that must be a weight off your mind, but what will happen when it comes to having to use your heating and any other everyday things?
My thoughts are with you and that you will find a job soon. They tell us that we are out of the recession and that things are looking good! Who are they trying to kid? This Government has gone to Hell and needs a good kick up the backside! And I'm not the first person to say that!
Good Luck with the Job Hunting!

hope said...

First, I'm sorry you've been on the receiving end of awful. If ever there was a time in history I wish we could skip over, the time would be now.

Second, you're not alone. The U.S. is feeling the same pains....we just call ours the "Unemployment Line". Well of course it has a fancier title but if you're in the line, you don't really care.

I'm taking a leap of faith here and saying that your writing illustrates you are creative, intelligent and witty. The world needs that. Surely there is a paying position that will soon realize that YOU are exactly what they need. I hope for your sake [or sanity or napping needs] it comes quickly.

On one level I know how you feel: disappointed and disgusted to be cast aside. The sad thing is, I AM employed and yet that's how the Boss treats us. On the verge of expendable. No matter what we suggest, the answer is "No!" followed by, "We should all be so GRATEFUL to have a job." Which is true. But considering how we're treated I know one day I'm going to counter with, "YOU should be GRATEFUL to have me doing your job."

And that's about the time I'll find myself standing in line with you.

Hang in there pal...I'm sure things will get better for you. I hope it's soon.

f8hasit said...

"A wastrel, a miscreant who sits alone in his flat daily, wearing nothing but soiled underwear, shovelling microwave meals into a fat open mouth, cramming it in with both hands, slobber running down my chin, while piggy little eyes stare vacantly at the TV screen as it beams an endless procession of mindless images directly into my soul."

There are sentences, and then there are SENTENCES.
THAT was the latter...

:-)

Sorry to hear your out of work. If you could get the blogging gig to pay, you'd be rich.
And if you figure out how to make it pay, will you let me in on it?
Hope the end of unemployment comes for you soon...

ladytruth said...

Eventhough this was written magnificently, it's bloody depressing. I started teaching extra classes a few months back and I'm happy with my newly created job as I don't miss the old one AT ALL. But I really feel for you, my friend. And for the cat. It must be so frustrating and yet you still manage to put on a good show on your blog. I tip my hat to you, sir.

Lorenza said...

Dan. Dan. Dan. My cancer taught me that everything happens for a reason. Whatever experience we have to face in life, it is meant to teach us something. So it is, in this difficult time. You awoke in the middle of the room realizing that, AT LEAST, you are only responsible for the cat and still can hope and claim for a decent job. And you have the talent of your writing...
My life is very complicated too, but I am looking for the teaching...
YESTERDAY IS HISTORY, TOMORROW IS MYSTERY, TODAY IS A GIFT

Susan at Stony River said...

Oh boy--good luck with the joblessness and the hunt!

Meanwhile I hope that this is just the doorway to the Next Great Thing, and turns out somehow to be a blessing in disguise. Who knows?

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

Brilliant prose, as always, Dan.

I have been in a similar position to you. I was a made redundant several years ago at the tender age of 23. I went to claim unemployment benefits or "the dole" as we call it here in Australia. I had those same initial feelings of disdain for my fellow unemployed. I remember wondering how people survived on such a small fortnightly amount.It made me realise that people would not chose to be on the dole unless they had to. Even a very menial job would pay better than benefits and the idea of people "cheating" the system for such a small amount of money seemed laughable.

But I must say, losing that job was a great thing for me. It taught me a lot about how companies view their employees. It particularly showed me how little value the company placed on the long hours I put into the job. I have a MUCH better job now. It is more rewarding and I have a much better work/life balance.

For me, something good came out of the bad. I hope the same happens for you.

JenJen said...

Honey I was laid off in March. It sucks. And, here they don't treat you any different than they would if I had 10 kids by 11 different fathers, bugs crawling all over me and missing all but the most useful teeth.

Guess that's one job that's secure? The Unemployment Office.

Judearoo said...

Ah man, sorry things have been rough of late.

The whole unemplyment thing - look we've all been there at one time or other or if we haven't no doubt will at some stage. And think about it - you ARE going to get working again soon and you'll be paying taxes for the rest of your life. If for this one period you've rely on signing on, well hold you're head up high my dear as you'll be paying for other people in a similar system for years to come....

Matthew said...

I have been incredibly lucky in the work department. But at least this posting gives me chance for payback. Ready? Here it comes:

Write yourself a book, Dan.

I'd buy it. Actually that's not true - I'd try and guilt you into a freebie - but if I didn't know you, I'd buy it - and surely that counts for something?

Dan. said...

Eva- I'm glad you missed all of the redundancies that were at your place. I hope you are enjoying your retirement so far? And thank you for the best wishes.

Alice- Thank you for the kind wishes, I should hopefully have a handle on the bills for a little while longer, but have a sneaking suspicion Christmas will be cancelled this year. That was very Alan Rickman.

Hope- Sorry to hear your work (or your boss) is getting you down. Nothing worse than being in an environment like that? But thank you for your kind words. I'm sure I will get something in the end.

f8hasit- I think I held back a little on that opening paragraph, don’t you think? Be nice if I could get money for this, as it’s been one of the things I have really enjoyed doing of late.

Ladytruth- What is it you do now matey? Are you actually a teacher?

Lorenza- I always think "There is always someone else worse off than you" and the fact that you have overcome what you have makes me realise that no matter what, you can get through anything. Thank you.

Susan- It would be nice, wouldn't it? Maybe something better is just round the corner? Either that or I will end up stripping for a living.

Longd dark hair, blue eyes- I used to have a sweeping generalization of anyone who signed on, basically a freeloader. I now know that’s so wrong. There are so many people out there struggling. But thank you for the kind words.

JenJen- The recruitment business! You’re a genius! I hear that’s a booming business at the moment?

Judearoo- To be honest mate, it’s not been that stressful because I have managed to survive OK so far. It’s if it carries on for another four months or so. But hopefully something will come up before then.

Dan. said...

Matt- Well I was thinking of writing a self help book for men who find sofas sexually attractive.

Bet you won’t buy it now, huh?

But thank you Matt, that means a lot.

WhisperingWriter said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. I really hope you find a job soon. I know the job market stinks these days. But I agree with Matthew, you could always write a book. You write very well.

Beej said...

Wow. Double wow. Triple wow! I just wandered in here while eating a bowl of cereal, about to get ready to go to work (I'm sorry..) and here is this incredible post, one of the best I've read in a long, long time.
Of course, you will find work again. But the real gain is the insight you have received through this experience. Thank you for passing it on.

JennyMac said...

So sorry to hear about your unemployment...I hope something amazing is just ahead for you, Dan.

Dan. said...

Whisperingwriter- I know I should, I will probably never find the time again. Just a very daunting prospect. But thank you for the kind wishes.

Beej- I hope I have gained something worthwhile from it (but even more so a job) Thanks for stopping by though. Feel free to come over again.

JennyMac- Thanks JM. I hope so as well. Just keep plugging away I suppose?