As jobseeker Carmen Neutral and her dauntless band of unemployables discover, all things (including Australia’s first female Prime Minister, a delectable Frenchman and a glorious supermoon) must pass.
The big picture
This week’s supermoon gazed over the unexpected ending of Julia Gillard’s reign as Prime Minister.
One minute we saw her quietly knitting, with her well-behaved, media savvy dog at her feet. Next, we saw her work unravelled by restless, opportunistic coworkers, and a gleeful upcycled Kevin Rudd, who seized the PM role like a rabid dog reunited with a juicy, long lost bone.
The view from poverty row
So this week, despite lingering MOMS (mutual obligation madness syndrome) symptoms, I was glad to have my attention diverted by attending Monsieur’s final job skills sessions conducted over two days.
It’s true there’s a level of bitter sweetness about the final days spent with Monsieur. And it goes without saying that I will miss his unique take on job seeking strategies.
Put simply, I will miss his French vim and vigour.
Put even more simply, I will miss his buns — which admittedly have provided a consistent glorious and effective sugar-free MOMS distraction and antidote for une femme réveillée d’un certain âge.
I have decided that HRT and Monsieur (in small doses) are complementary medicines. However, having said that, boy am I glad to see the back of his modules.
And even though we unemployables have spent several weeks with Monsieur trawling through a half dozen or more modules, at the eleventh hour he still remains underwhelmed by our job seeking disabilities.
He really does seem convinced that we need remedial sessions and that, on our own, without him (and his baguettes), we are inept, clueless, lazy no-gooders, forever in search of a welfare handout. And he suggests he could be back in July? Which is next week! WTF?!
Are you playing with us Monsieur? One minute you say you’re leaving us, then you say you may be coming back. Enough already!
We don’t mind if you bring him back home to us, to show we misérables how to flip a French omelette, tie a cravat, or enter a room with French poise and élégance (or even to have that un à un once and for all, at my place or his).
But please, ayez pitié de nous! No more modules!
And once again Monsieur, I implore: Your place or mine? All I demand is a typical très adapté French solution to my social welfare problem.
The lesson plan
I have noticed that I’m not the only hysterical unemploymentista in the class. Monsieur does not realise that when he’s been out of the room to check his horoscope (or whatevs), we unemployables (on the verge of MOMS breakdowns) have secretly plotted ways to deviously fast track our way through each module session with the least effort on our part.
Une méthode simple
During each lesson, Monsieur’s modus operandi has involved selecting individuals to read modules out loud to the class. And of course, as in any group, there are the fast and the excruciatingly slow readers.
Unbeknownst to Monsieur, we have identified the speediest reader among us and when he asks, “Who can read next?” our pre-appointed speedster reader volunteers, on cue. From this our “mutual obligation workout’ is completed in record time.
We then ask Monsieur, “Will that be all for today then?” And, nine times out of ten, Monsieur gives in and lets us loose on the neighbourhood so that we’re home in time for the 2pm BBC News Service.
The cold-call “how to”
In all honesty though, I found Monsieur’s final module covering the art of cold-calling particularly useful for the job seeking woman of a certain age who so wants that job now!
Monsieur has repeatedly said to us that sending off multiple applications, and waiting weeks for return answers, is a waste of time. With the cold call technique he advises that at least you get instant results indicating whether your job canvassing has been successful or a total stuff-up.
But Monsieur, did you have to ask moi, a 21st century librarianista, if I knew how to use the (hardcopy) Yellow Pages?!!!
What kind of a Visigoth do you think I am Monsieur?
Also, mon cher amour, the business type you asked me to search for (or Yewdle?) in that tiresome inky phonebook was the Beautician sector! Was that another way of saying my moustache needed a trim?
I am so over you Monsieur. And you see yourself as a “New Age man.”
Poppycock! Have you checked out your own five o’clock shadow lately?
And he let us eat cake!
Thank goodness Monsieur finally gave in and, as a special surprise on his last day, ended the session by finally letting us miserables eat cake! Which is all unemployables ever really want in life.
My case manager, Inspector Cluzo, joined us. And during the farewell speeches, he told the group (and Monsieur) that in his eyes I deserved the Ms Congeniality award for being a reformed potential absconder.
In shock, I glanced across toward Monsieur. Our eyes locked. And on behalf of the group I asked Monsieur, “Is there any chance that we can all follow you now on Facebook?”
A twist in the plot
During that final hour one of my unemployable comrades — a Kiwi who describes his usual occupation as “womaniser” — implied to me that Monsieur is not French at all! That it’s all a façade to cover up his real background?!
I cannot believe this. I will not believe it.
Meantime, adieu mon Napoleane avec les pains français serrés.
And finally Monsieur, I dedicate this music video to you.
This is an edited version of Carmen’s article from her blog 50 Shades of Unemployment. It is published on Midlifexpress with her kind permission.