Today is the day I finally join the hoardes lined up to get at the Governments teat, the day I finally get my sweaty,grasping paws on your hard earned tax pennies, yes three people who accidentally clicked on this looking for an Oasis video…. Today’s the day I sign on. For the first time since I was a teenager I shall be an unemployment statistic once more.
Having been unemployed for just over a month and with whatever optimism I might have harboured of a quick-fire return to work now depleted I must swallow my pride and get on the gravy-train.
For those of you fortunate enough to not have had to claim JSA (Job Seeker’s Allowance) before, Allow me to give you a brief synopsis as to what terrors lie ahead and those I have already endured*:
– ‘The Call for Help’… Making the initial phone-call to the benefits agency is by no means a simple matter of making an appointment with an advisor ready to shower you with riches, no.
It is a harrowing 40+ minute long interrogation/punishing lesson in the insane beauraucratic procedures that cripple our public sector. After telling 7 different people your National Insurance details, employment history, mother’s maiden name, shoe size, what your junior school geography teacher’s favourite type of boiled sweet was and have recited ∏ to 15 places; they finally get you through to the right department – who more often than not sounds exactly like the first person you spoke with – whereupon you are informed that you are going to fill out a ‘few forms’, these forms are all around 56 questions long and all the questions follow a similar ridiculous thread e.g.
JSA: Do you have a disability?
JSA: Do you have a medical reason preventing you from work?
Me: What? Like a disability? No.
JSA: Are you now or have you ever been registered blind? (“Have you ever been blind? What? and gotten better?)
JSA: Are you now or have you ever been registered deaf?
And on and on and on it goes, like some form of sadistic endurance test designed to see exactly how much you want this money. Seemingly endless, repetitive and needless questions about every facet of your life fired at you by a person with all the magnanimity, patience and charisma of a particularly disgruntled SS officer who’s put his wife’s socks on by mistake that morning and they’re really starting to chafe.
Anyway… I digress, once that’s over you receive you’re appointment to see an actual human – exciting – who – you’re informed – ‘will go over all your answers with you, just to make sure you weren’t lying’… Are you shitting me? Could I not have just gone straight to the second guy? Gah!
*Ahem*… Next step:
– ‘The Dole Queue’ Now this: http://bit.ly/Omcrj is the image that springs to mind when you think of queuing up to get your giro, and it’s kind of true.
True that is if you replace ‘Hot Stuff’ by Donna Summer with just the bass line of Lonely by Akon, being played out of just one static laden speaker as the other has been ripped off the wall to be used as a make shift weapon/bartering tool by a mouth breathing dunderhead named Darren whose baseball cap is fastened so tightly it has exerted unholy amounts of pressure on his medulla oblongata over the years, and left him in a state of perpetual rage.
If you also replace the zany/’in it together’ dancing with junkies frantically scratching their arms in anticipation and a general melancholic shuffling of feet, shrugging of shoulders and so many heavy sighs that someone could ring a pastel pink kitten called ‘Poppy waffles’ neck in front of your face and it would actually lighten the mood.
And after all that rigmarole; in just 2 to 3 weeks I get my hands on the filthy lucre, all £50 0f it or whatever.
For that amount of money and the loss of dignity involved I think I’d be better off financially and do less damage to my soul by sitting behind the bottle banks in Aldi car park; gabbing off hobo’s at 50p a throw. But; alas the bottom’s dropped out of that market too.
BLOODY GLOBAL ECONOMIC DOWNTURN.
So there you have it, that’s what I’ve got to look forward to today folks. Wish me luck.