Congratulations dear reader, you’re now entering the fourth week of Pud’s redundancy with me and I’m delighted to announce that no divorce papers have been served as yet! We may have come close last week though, after I accidentally scratched a freshly painted wall in the hallway with the laundry basket as I bounded down the stairs like an over excited puppy. Not only that, I then proceeded to rub away at the scratch with the only thing I had to hand, which was a dirty old duster. Suffice to say, Pud wasn’t overly chuffed when I showed him the small scratch surrounded by a large dirty smear and he’s had to repaint the entire wall to ensure ‘continuity’ as a result. And I thought he’d be the one getting on my nerves……
In between painting over my ineptitude, taking on the childcare role every morning, doing the washing, heating up lots of gourmet chicken nuggets and pizzas and making packed lunches to the kids’ exact specifications, Pud has also been job hunting and I tell you what, it’s not like it was in my day…..
After years of plodding along in the same monotonous job, suddenly Pud has to prove that he’s employable and it’s a whole new ballgame from when he last had a job interview. In fact he didn’t even have an interview, those were the days when a friend recommended you to their employer and Bob was instantly your uncle (or your boss in this case). He’s had to create a cv (and when I say Pud created it, what I mean is I had to snatch the keyboard away and type it myself after the constant pounding of one key after another with a single finger almost pushed my tolerance levels off the scale), he’s having to learn keyboard skills (see previous) and he’s had to communicate with more people over the last few weeks than I think he’s ever spoken to in his forty nine years of being.
He’s also had to sign on at the job centre and this has been another alien concept. To qualify for his £73.10 Jobseekers Allowance, Pud has to spend (and demonstrate that he’s spent) thirty seven hours per week actively looking for jobs. He has a weekly meeting with a box-ticking lady who tells him to apply for absolutely any job, regardless of whether he’s qualified for it and tells him off when he’s not spent the stipulated time seeking employment. To say this weekly appointment is soul-destroying is an understatement. Pud comes back from it so pissed off, I wonder if it’s worth the hassle for the money he gets (not that he’s actually received any money yet. No wonder families are increasingly resorting to using food banks while they’re waiting for financial assistance but that’s another story for a very big soapbox which I may never get down from).
Even applying for a job is different to how it was a few years ago. The on-line application process has become a fraught experience in the Pud residence. My heart sinks when the incessant tapping stops momentarily, Pud lets out a huge sigh and says the ill fated words ‘Oh, I don’t know what I’ve done to it now, can you come and help me for a minute.’ We’ve got email acknowledgements coming out of our ears as Pud rattles off applications ranging from mini bus driver for the elderly to spinal injury consultant at the Royal Infirmary (well, she did tell him to apply for anything….)
Finally this week there was good news as he was invited for an interview for the position of gas and electric meter reader. For £6.50 an hour, Pud was told he would be expected to read 240 meters per day, use his own car for travelling anywhere within a thirty mile radius (he would get a small petrol allowance – gee thanks), plus he would have to make up any missed targets on a Saturday for no extra pay. He was advised that it would be pointless knocking on doors during school drop off and pick up times and that he would have to ensure these meters were read in the evenings. He would be walking up to eight miles a day and he was told that the manager would be constantly ‘on his back’ to ensure he was meeting his targets (surely this would make walking even more difficult?) I’m not convinced Pud will get the job, on account of him laughing in the interviewer’s face when he mentioned working for no pay on a Saturday. And his opening gambit as he walked into the small, stuffy interview room and shook the interviewer’s hand was ‘It’s like a prison cell in here isn’t it?’ I believe he’s booked on to attend the interview skills workshop offered by the job centre very shortly.
But this isn’t the only job that can’t even attempt to sell itself. At the job centre today he was told about a post dropping vehicles off to various destinations all over the country. Once the vehicle had been dropped off, he would be expected to make his own way on to the next destination. When Pud questioned how he would do this, he was advised to familiarise himself with the National Rail timetable or that he could even hitch hike to get there!
Pud’s not naïve, he knows that with his skills and experience, he’s unlikely to secure a particularly well paid job, nor is he too proud to take a lower paid job. But if he’s getting way below a tenner an hour, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable for him to hang on until he finds something with half decent conditions that’s going to be vaguely fulfilling. I can’t believe that there are so many really shitty jobs out there that pay so badly. And there are people who are either desperate or forced by the system to take these jobs, which I find incredibly sad when many employers take advantage of this with what they expect from an employee.
Ooh, I could write a whole essay on this (and practically have with this post) but as I find myself in danger of boarding the pity bus with my musings, I’m confident that all is not lost and Pud will find the right role for him. Meter reading might not his bag but he’s just spotted a vacancy for a sky diving instructor……