A great poet* once wrote "A man without a job is a stranger to the seasons." And I can see that. One day blurs into another, and one week blurs into another; if you keep the curtains closed, you don't even have to be troubled by the other human beings outside. Days and weeks pass by, without any significant change. The rejection emails stack up; it's got to the stage where I'm getting rejections for jobs I can't even remember having applied for.
Ah well. Let the phone ring: one thing you learn early on is that nothing good ever comes from phone calls during the day; it's not someone trying to give you a job or help you out - it's someone who wants your money. Everyone wants your money when you're unemployed. You're bombarded by daytime TV telling you to blow it all by playing online bingo, or try and get some more by claiming for an accident you haven't had. All the adverts merge into one, too. Soon there will be people combining online bingo and accident claims in one handy website; play bingo while you're waiting for the compo for that broken leg. And slip off into the usual trance, the usual distractions that keep you from achieving whatever it is you want.
I don't want to sound depressing, but there it is. There's no point in me pretending this is fun, because it isn't. I'm sure you could do better, if you were me. You'd have found something by now, got on your bike, off your arse, and done everything I haven't done; I can sense the disapproval, the probably not misplaced cynicism. But it's not as if I haven't been trying. Applying for jobs nowadays is a tortuously long process, as I've said before, and can't be speeded up: if you want to do a decent job on each application, which requires you to enter your name, grades, ethnic origin and membership of professional bodies (whatever that's supposed to mean) over and over again, as well as spinning your straw into gold in the personal statement section, it takes time.
It's like having a job, but without the money. Or the job.
Anyway, Christmas temping work is the latest wheeze to distract me. I've applied for as much as I can find, but I'm not entirely hopeful, I'm afraid. There are many, many people round here who've been recently made redundant in retail, who are probably better placed than me to fill those vacancies; still, I put the applications in, and should I get called to interview I'll try to display my desperation as enthusiasm. Long gone are the days when I was optimistic about applying for positions whose adverts contained words like "commensurate". Now I just want a fucking job.
I haven't been standing still. I have a plan, though it may take some time: I want to do a PGCE, to teach in a primary school. I've done some weeks of experience, and I've loved it. In four weeks of working in schools I've felt happier than in 12 years of journalism; I don't feel like I'm winging it, or somehow deceiving everyone, or that I'll be found out as a fraud at any moment - I feel like I can do this, in time. It's not easy, and I have every respect for those people who do the job, which is demanding and challenging. But it feels like the right thing to do, and something that I can be good at. I guess you either know or you don't. So we'll see. I'm doing everything I can to succeed there.
In the meantime, I'd just like a job. Any job. Anything. Anywhere. Something I can do. Get me out of the house. Give me the watercoolers or the freezing cold warehouses. Give me the office banter and the canteen. Give me people. People, and life, and the feeling of being part of something, of doing something worthwhile, something that matters. Give me back the seasons. I miss them.
* Ralph McTell
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