The Job Centre is the worst place on Earth


 

Yesterday, I went to the job centre to sign on – this is not something I wanted to do, but my parents don’t want to support me anymore and a guy’s gotta eat!

Actually, that’s not quite the beggining of the story: Last week I went down there bright and early, foolishly thinking that the first step in the process would be to go down and speak to someone, only to be told that this would be impossible and I must go home and apply online. So by the time I got to the centre yesterday I was already feeling less than impressed.

I left in plenty of time that morning to make my journey through the snow. I prized open the building’s broken front door and crossed the threshold ten minutes early. The man in front of me in the queue was complaining about how he couldn’t work out how to make a claim on the centre’s website. I could smell him from where I stood and was glad when he finally went on his way.

I explained my situation to the receptionist and asked what I should do next, only to be told I must leave and come back in ten minutes. The snow which had been falling peacefully all morning had by this point transformed into a relentless tirade of rain, so I asked: “Couldn’t I just wait in the lobby for a bit?” I had a job interview lined up for the next day (today – it went well) and was working on a ‘short essay’ about why College Group should award their graduate PR post to me, instead of the many other applicants presumably in identical situations to myself.

In response, the rude little man behind the desk gesticulated towards a laminated sign stuck to the front of the information point and told me that no one may wait in the job centre.

Ten minutes later I returned, still sulking about having been punished for being prompt. I was already sick of being treated like some sub-human, unemployable scrounger.

Upstairs, I was introduced to my claim manager and told I must produce a letter from my college to prove I’m not still a student there. “Great,” I said. “I have loads of emails which will prove that to you. Can I just show you one of them?” Absolutely not, I’m told. The job centre is not equipped with anything as hi-tech as email.

She asked what my ‘job goals’ are and I was momentarily distracted by what a needless piece of jargon that is. I told her I’m a qualified journalist and aspiring writer, and she looked up those roles and entered them in to the computer. I went on to explain I’ve applied for an internship with Curtis Brown to be an agent – I’m extremely excited about the possibility that I might one day seek out talented writers/actors for a living, despite being nearly certain I won’t get the internship. “What sort of agent?” she asks. “A travel agent?” She has no idea what I’m talking about. Worse still (I see as I lean forward and look at the computer screen) as far as the system is concerned, being an agent is not a real job – it’s not on there.

This building really does treat people as if they have no intention of ever getting a job, and its whole structure is laid out to suggest that even if you do want to do something with your life, there’s no way you will end up doing something you actually enjoy.

As I left the building I was certain of one thing: I never wanted to return to that place. Noticing an empty can of super-strength lager outside which had not been there earlier, I resolved to do everything in my power never to go back.

I looked to the sky and realised the rain had eased off – things were looking up already.

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