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Odd Man Out

Today was signing day. As usual I'm anxious. I'm always anxious. But no more so than dole day. There are three people before me, and vulture faced Sue is on deck. I'm anticipating the worst: that she'll be my adviser. I don't like Sue; the rest are more or less ok, as advisers go, but Sue has an attitude. She's cynical, suspicious and really quite derisory. She talks down to people, and loudly. You could apply for 1000 jobs - and have the evidence - and she'll criticise you for not applying for 1001.

Each of the three people before me are asked whether they've signed with the Universal Jobmatch. Oh dear, I think, I see what's coming. Similarly they are also asked the token 'how's it going with the WP' (a pointless question since if things aren't going well they won't be interested). In each case these people, and by extension the majority of claimants signing on there, I assume, have no problem. In the case of Universal Jobfarce, they seem quite amiable about it all; quite ok with conceding their personal data. 

It's my turn and I'm asked if I've registered. I decide not to divulge more than is necessary: I simply say that I haven't. I'm then told, as I was last time, that the site is great and wonderful: you can store your CV, you can get alerts notifying you about vacancies (?), etc, etc. It's just sales talk from people who really don't seem clued up on the reality of all this, especially the security issues. They don't seem at all bothered that once you put this sort of stuff online there's no going back. Once your data is out'll stay out there. God knows where it could end up. 

There's no compulsion, at this point, so I don't choose to declare my intention not to sign. I have no stomach for an argument. This is the same person (not Sue, thank fuck) that believed I had to engage with the WP and that, if I didn't contact them, I might face a sanction. This sort of ambivalent information malaise, this lack of clarity on the part of the adviser, is troubling in my opinion. They hold the power at the point of signing, but they seem really rather cavalier in regard to the facts. However if I am compelled to register, even implicitly, I will certainly point out that it is, at the time of writing, not mandatory. 

So that would make me the odd man out. By standing up in a field of otherwise compliant peers, I get to stick my head over the parapet. This is really bothering me. We all know what that means: you get marked as the troublemaker. Here's the guy that won't play ball, he wont' help himself - he can't be bothered. That's what the prevailing attitude will be; not whether or not his objections and views have any validity. Not whether or not there should be solidarity in this.

I'm not asked, thankfully, how it's going on the WP, but she does ask me if I have an appointment, going back to her concern about engagement. Here again is another example of adviser disinterest: I told the adviser I saw last time that my appointment is on the 17th (provisionally - my complaint will change that, I'm sure, if it ever gets delivered) and she input it into the system. These people just don't listen: she looks at my jobsearch and notices where I had siad that I'd, weekly, looked on the websites of various shops, including Argos (they have recruitment sites, why not look at them?). She then decides that Argos are currently looking for staff. This raises two problems: firstly, why is she ignoring what's written on the jobsearch, and secondly why ignore the fact that my mental health makes working in busy retail environments, such as Christmas in Argos, extremely difficult. I don't argue the point, but again it's adviser disinterest. Why ask me to fill in a jobsearch if you're going to tell me that I'm wrong in this fashion when I point out that I didn't see anything when I looked at their recruitment page. She probably thinks that such pages are not worth visiting, but that's bollocks.

It's just a process now. I'm not getting any help from these people. She books my next appointment, makes some noise about being due a tea break (I offer a suitably feeble sympathetic smile), and that's it. No real input from me - I'm never asked, for example, what might be an appropriate time to come in. It's meant to be the same time each fortnight, but they are poorly organised and apparently their systems don't work that way, despite the local bus service overhauling it's timetable making certain times invalid where previously where were ok. I'm not listened to, there's no interest, and no help. Business as usual; just another day at the office.


  1. My signing on yesterday was a breeze (sorry if I seem insensitive, I know you have trouble with signing on sometimes) and I wasn't even asked about my jobsearch, Universal Jobmatch or the Work Programme. It was literally a quick in and out no questions asked, which was a huge relief for me with it being near Christmas. Still, I can't believe how varied procedures are between different jobcentres. I'm not complaining - I can do my own jobsearch and don't like people looking over my shoulder so to speak - but the difference is startling sometimes.

    1. That's ok. It's not so much that I have trouble per se, it's just the ineffectiveness of the system and that the bureacrats administering it, as that's what they are, just aren't really fit for purpose. They don't seem to remember or listen or really grasp the issues involved. It's a bit like going to see the doctor and being instead seen by the cleaner. The whole thing is ridiculous.

  2. Your lucky to always get the same time when you sign on. My appointment time is different every fortnight, and when i asked my adviser why they keep changing it he said ''oh it's just to make sure you're not working on the side!'' lol as if i'd turn up to that rat hole every fortnight to be spoken to like shit if i didn't absolutely have to. Luckily for me though my jobcentre is only a 10 minute walk into town so it doesn't really matter if they mess around changing the time, but i'd be fucked if i lived in a rural area like yourself.

    1. I don't get the same time. Each time they have to book the next appointment because the system doesn't allow for anyone to be assigned a fixed permanent time, even though that's what was supposed to have happened. When I started on the WP I was assigned 10am with somone called Hilary. Each time I see whoever is on the desk at whatever time. To be fair it's not usually so different but the bus times are limited and if I have to negotiate it, as I have done occasionally, they get a bit defensive. Yesterday it was meant to be 10 past 10 next time it's 20 to 11. FOrtunately next time, because xmas is midweek, my money should already have gone through. Of course I still have to go in, because lots of employers are hiring the friday before christmas!


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