Herewith the ongoing saga of Ms Carmen Neutral’s increasingly surreal and distinctly literary job search.
When I attend my monthly visit with Mr Darcy, my thoughts are far from jobseeking.
It’s a day of steamy mid 40 degree celsius heat. And all I can think about is my gainfully employed older sibling’s plans to re-marry. This is not five minutes after swiftly divorcing and de-cluttering from her life hubby number one!
Didn’t marriage #1 teach her anything?
And this time it’s no small affair. Imagine my spinsterly surprise when I hear the wedding reception is to involve a flotilla of ships(!) …well boats actually. What gets into these people! Isn’t one boat enough?
And, you guessed it, the dress code is Pirates of Penzance. What?!
And however much I do appreciate a bit of a dress-up, chin-chin and sea breeze in these post-GFC times, I can’t help wondering why the darling betrothed can’t just elope to the next suburb and simply live together happily ever after?
And, quite frankly, it’s a kick in the face for a downwardly mobile, terminal singleton such as myself.
Moreover, doesn’t big sister know that I never did get my basic swimming certificate? What if I trip on a canape saumon and end up overboard? Who on deck is going to save,or even notice(?) a desperate, dateless, and unemployable welfare recipient (dressed up in a pirate’s costume) flapping about in the ocean? … I digress.
Rumour has it that they found each other online. Meantime, all I’ve ever got online, are shoes that don’t fit and of course those artfully(?) composed application rejections.
However, who needs to go online, when once a month I get the opportunity to hook up – face-to-face with Mr Darcy!
So the heat is on when the studster sidles up to me for our second contact appointment. This time, Mr Darcy has changed tactic by organizing a “group job search” activity at the Job Network. Oh what joy! Not.
Do I like this idea in place of the standard one-on-one in-cubicle appointments? No. For one thing, I don’t get the chance to give Darcy a blow by blow account of my recent job interview. And then there’s the failed opportunity to update him on my belly-dancing exploits.
It’s plainly obvious that Darcy’s motives are merely a clever time-management strategy to halve his workload. He says he prefers this method to being tied to an office cubicle doing endless one-on-ones … so to speak.
Perhaps the time-poor studster needs to get out more.
But today he’s got his work cut out keeping we three lady unemployees in line as we sit at our Job Network computers – pretending to job search.
A fellow unemployable, tells me about her plans to enhance existing social welfare qualifications and switch careers by undertaking a course in Hawaiian massage.
“A wonderful vocational move. A win-win strategy …and you do seem to have the right aura about you for such work,” I tell her.
“I just like touching people!” she replies.
“Well that’s just great,” I say (and thankyou for sharing), “And what a snappy sales pitch you have there for job interviews! … Perhaps I should try it?”
“But really,” I can’t help adding, “Imagine how potential employers would react, if I — a displaced cinquagenarian librarian — used the same line to engage my interviewers?”
And in pondering the thought, and wondering where I’d gone wrong so late in my career, I begin to shriek with laughter. It’s a well-needed belly laugh that permeates each and every wall and ceiling of the job centre.
This, of course, stirs Mr Darcy’s attention and he immediately wanders over to find out what it is that could be so damn funny?!
“We were just chatting about a massage course,” I tell him. Darcy stands hovering over me. His eyes are alight with curiosity. And he gleefully asks, “Oh please, that’s a service I really need at the moment. Can I be your client!”
Well, I never.
And Darcy plonks himself beside me and says he has an activity I might like to consider.
I silently pray that Darcy will make an offer that’s actually …quite useful.
He says I’d be a good fit for a new intensive job skills course coming up in the next week.
“But I’ve already attended one of those,” I cry. “It wasn’t so long ago, and we covered everything from interview deportment, goal setting, dealing with smelly co-workers, corporate warfare tactics, modern French history, the ins and outs of 21st century communications, cold-calling 101, the racism debate, facial jewellery, illegal immigrants, illegal welfare recipients, team skills, low-flying obstacle avoidance, deodorant usage, office-shagging, the merits of nasal hair-clipping, to ….who should buy the f**king birthday cakes!”
“This new course will be different.” says Darcy.
How different could it be, I wonder.
And would there be any chance of a particular Monsieur returning to conduct it?
“Do I HAVE to do it?” I ask Darcy.
“If you want to get work you should.” he replies. “Apparently, the woman who takes the class is fantastic at finding jobs for people with drug and alcohol addiction problems.”
WHAT?! Where in my Employment Pathway Plan did I tick those boxes?
“So that’s the kind of dame you think I am,” I mutter to myself.
“And I think you could benefit from being in a group.” Says Darcy.
A group of what?
But I don’t want Darcy to think I’m some kind of recalcitrant Madam Absconder. I want the studster to see me as a role model unemployable.
And, considering the heat of the day – as Darcy sits waiting for my answer – I decide to close the deal by enthusiastically saying YES! to anything that get’s me out of that Job Network building. Tout de suite!
On the way home, I mull over what I’ve done. For I had stupidly said yes to Darcy (just to keep the studster happy) when – as a dame of a certain age – I should have said NO!
And really(?), how could I bare sitting around a Job Network table for four hours daily over a month, with a new batch of twenty miserable unemployables?
More importantly, I knew that if I went ahead with another similar course, drug and alcohol addiction problems could surely follow.
This post originally appeared on Carmen’s 50 Shades of Unemployment blog and appears on Midlifexpress with her kind permission.