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Found 5 results

  1. caldrail

    Working And Not Working

    Things just get more and more awkward every day. It really doesn't feel like I'm in control of my life any more, and to be honest, there's every reason to believe someone is interfering in my business as no opportunity to disrupt my income is being missed. Well, for the time being, I'm back in the saddle, working at the Honda car plant. Don't get me wrong - this is not my dream job in any way whatsoever, but it will pay the bills for a while. My colleagues, many of whom are being taken on at the same time as me, come from a wide variety of countries. There are of course the ubiquitous Poles, as well as Hungarians, czechs, Goans and other assorted Indians, Italians, Egyptians, and at least one American appeared on the radar today. Two of my female colleagues wanted to know who he was, and with typical working class forthrightness demanded "'Oo are you then?". It turned out it was the Vice President of Honda USA on a visit. Result. On the negative side the 'full training given' turns out to be rather less full and more sporadic. I even had to walk away from one trainer I was assigned to because he admitted he didn't know what he was doing. The trouble, so the agency informs us, is that Honda don't normally take on so many temps in one go. There's certainly demand for them - I've had a total of five agencies trying to hire me for the same job. I know, the scheme to earn five times as much has occurred to me, but I tried that once before in another warehouse - it doesn't work. Also Not Working My grand plan to learn some Polish has hit the rocks. Not through want of effort, it's just that the Poles shorten their vowels so much that their language is almost impossible for us lazy English speakers to get right. I've had one young Polish lady reduced to hysterics by my continued efforts to say "teabreak" in Polish. The word is said something like p'sher'va, but as easy as it looks, she just giggles and says it again in clipped Polish preciseness. Vending Machine Of The Week The works canteen has a row of typical vending machines for snacks and drinks. They do work, as it happens, as anything not working is not the Japanese way. So, having no cash to spend, I decide a cup of free cold water would do. Number eighty.... Aha... I now have to chose whether I want Strong, Normal, or Weak water. Really? My trials are nothing compared to one colleague, FJ, who is the only temporary worker to receive full training, knows everything, and thus is respected and consulted by all despite this being his first job and only present for a week so far. He's even decided to go on the night shift to get away from all the fame and fortune. His choice of breaktime tipple was Beef Soup. Strong, naturally, as he always chooses Strong. Big mistake, FJ. When it says Strong, it means it. Now he buys cans of fizzy drinks and looks forward to his girlfriends curries to get through the day, and breaks out in a sweat whenever Beef Soup is mentioned. Personally, I 'll stick to water. It doesn't seem to make any difference which strength I choose.
  2. caldrail

    Going Wild

    Right now the wildlife in my home town is on full throttle. Most of the older foxes I got to know and name have disappeared, replaced by lots of young striplings who are busy learning the art of surviving in Swindon now that mum has kicked them out of the nest. Along one street in particular, you often see rubbish in those blue polythene bags the Council supply left out for collection but in a few instances, ripped open and the contents spilled across the pavement. I suppose for the most part residents blame the very same foxes I see every night, as well as the ones you hear shrieking in the distance. But they might be wrong. In fact I know they are. I often see a badger on this one street in the early hours of the morning, waddling around at a brisk pace. Normally he sees me coming and scarpers. Once I surprised him in one of those tiny front yards you see in Edwardian brick terraces. Again, it made a quick escape. The other night I was heading the same way. There he was, snuffling at a bag of rubbish, a silhouette in the lamplight but unmistakeable. It didn't matter to me. I had other places to go, and so continued along the pavement, wondering when the badger would notice. he didn't. Tucking into someone's discarded takeaway, he was lapping up every morsel and enjoying his free meal to the max. So engrossed he was that I walked right up to him, stunned he could be so careless. There he was, right at my feet, a wild badger doing badger things. The moment had to pass because I needed to carry onward, so I tapped the ground and quietly said hello. Immediately the badger realised something was not quite right. He tensed. Then, with a careful sideways glance, he realised the danger, and immediately fled under a nearby car. I went my way, he went his. Life goes on. Oh No You Don't I live in what must be described a noisy part of town. Drunkards and partygoers often stroll past the house. In the quiet hours of the morning, they sometimes pay rather too much attention to my home than I would like. Last night I kept hearing noises that made me suspicious, as far as you can be when you're half asleep. Upon investigation I saw nothing untoward. However, later that same night, I heard the sound of a few miscreants being herded into a police van and driven off. Whatever they were getting up to, it ain't happening now. Scramble of the Week At the local park it's usual to see a swan or two on the lake. On one particular morning there were five, lazily drifting around the surface of the water aimlessly as they do. Now once in the past I witnessed an angry swan cross that lake semi-airborne, heading right for me. It was a fairly intimidating sight. But for some reason these five swans decided it was time for a squadron scramble. All of them hurtled across the lake, their wings audibly beating, stretching forward and really going for it together. Erm.... At the last minute they realised the Luftwaffe were not bombing Swindon and gave up their race across the lake, settling down into the water again with a noisy bow wave. Oh good. But that was definitely an experience.
  3. caldrail

    Learning The Ways OF The Jobseeker

    It's open! It's all open! The supermarket at the Old College site is open for business! Drop everything and rush down there at once before everything goes in the Swindon store's grand opening. Or not. Depending on whether you actually care. It's still a building site of course but at least the public and wander in awe along the aisles admiring the low low prices and bargains galore. The supermarket isn't the only new store opening here recently. There's the toy shop at the old shopping cente too. As it happens that wasn't particularly of any interest to me but imagine my suprise turning a corner when I spotted an imperial storm trooper looking for androids in a Swinbon street. No really, fully dressed in up and carrying one of those short barrelled blasters they couldn't hit a barn door with. It's a wonder he wasn't arrested for carrying an offensive weapon. [My Jedi Training Begins This morning I dragged myself out of bed for that most unusual of job searching activities, the early morning start. For today I'm off to 'Boot Camp', Basic Training for Jobseekers 101, at the local college (the new one, not the mass of bricks, scaffolds, hi-vis vests, and bewildered shoppers at the Old College site). After a decade of intermittent quests for employment the Job Centre have decided I'm a useless klutz who must be re-educated and indoctrinated into the ways of the Force, findings jobs with the blast shield down, stretching out with my feelings, sensing terrible disturbances, although at my age leaping several hundred feet in one go and getting into intense laser sword fights isn't quite so easy. No wonder Ben Kenobi lost his final confrontation with Darth Vader, but then he was long term unemployed too as I seem to remember from the films. Mind you, living in a cave out in the desert wastes of Tatooine, he didn't have a brand new supermarket to find food in. The Job Centre couldn't wait to send me on this two week course, the joke being that it turns out only the first meeting was mandatory. But hey, let's be positive, at least at the end of this I'll be able to prove to employers that I, Old Ben Caldrail, am fully presentable and employable with my new certificate. What? Another one? Oh yes. In two weeks I shall be a Jobseeking Jedi, learned in the ways of employment. The Job Centre will expect nothing less. Jedi Prowess Of The Week There are roadworks along the pavements of the street outside my home. I know this because the local population collide with the plastic barricades in a drunken attempt to stagger from one pub to another each evening. You see, a little bit of Jedi training, and they would sense the presence of obstructions and dark holes in the ground.
  4. caldrail

    Clearly Oblivious

    In the good old days I used to turn up at workplaces for interviews safe in the knowledge that I would be greeted by a receptionist who would tell me to sign a book and sit over there until called for interview. More and more that doesn't happen. Instead I arrive at the employers premises to find a foyer devoid of human presence, barely decorated, looking uninviting and unfriendly. A computerised touchscreen blinks a message that I should register my presence. You would think that a computerised system would be a breeze. Nope. It was a visual version of the same old nightmare we get from telephone reception systems. Welcome to Acme Inc. Press 1 if you're an employee, press 2 if you're a contractee, press 3 if you're a visitor. From that point it got harder. The screen was impossible to use accurately, refused to let you correct a mistake, and eventually printed out a temporary security pass with a name that made me sound like an immigrant from Albania. Eventually somebody happened to wander through the foyer and asked who I was, clearly oblivious that I was already registered on their electronic visitor book for a job interview. Keeping The Road Clean As you might imagine, the constant coming and going of heavy goods vehicls from the Old College site does tend to eave a lot of mud on the roads nearby. Understandably the civil engineers have hired a road cleaning vehicle. I often see it parked nearby, waiting for instructions to wash the roads, a bored driver watching the world go by. The other day I spotted the cleaning truck parked in a taxi bay beside a modern office block. Despite the busy traffic, it's a somewhat quiet corner. So quiet that the driver thought no-one would notice him taking a quick wee into the waste pipes of his truck, oblivious to the fact he must have been visible by plenty of office workers. Keeping The Walls Decorated Every so often we get yet more graffiti in our area. Mostly it's a 'tag', the human equivalent of a dog weeing on the lampost, and done by schoolkids with nothing to do between leaving school and their parents arriving home from work to cook their meal. A few nights ago I was looking out the back of my home at night. The view has changed a lot lately now the Old College site is starting to resemble a shopping complex. In the early hours of the morning the various amber and turquoise lights cat an odd radiance on the nearby yard. Without them, I would not have seen the graffiti artist. He was silhouetted by the light, the alleyway itself closed off due to construction work and in the pitch dark behind a concrete parapet overlooking a thirty or forty foot drop recently hewn from the hillside. The alleyway itself is also pockmarked by surface subsidence and not a safe place to be. At first all I saw was movement. It wasn't clear what he was up to. A strange place to be given the circumstance so I kept an eye on him. Very soon I realised he was at work painting the side of a cement block garage in tall lettering, clearly oblivious that he was not only visible to me, but also visible from the main road. Jobsearching Initiative Of The Week The gossip was doing the rounds at the Support Centre. The law has been changed. From tomorrow morning unemployed people can be told to do a job to earn their benefits. Actually that's been happening for years. Whilst the politicans are merely ensuring their votes by acting on the concerns of hard working citizens, they'e oblivious to the fact that the workshy have also had years to perfect their excuses for not working.
  5. caldrail

    Another Day, Another Dollar

    Where shall I go today? The library, so I can do more internetting? Or the Support Centre so I can do more job searching? It doesn't really matter because I'll end up doing both today as I do every day. Today I will go to the library first I think. Nothing ike variety in the working day. The road crossing outside the library also happens to be where the main entrance to the Old College building site is. The tarmac is crumbling under stress and has become a building site all of its own as repairs to the road take place. With lorries coming and going from the Old College site regularly, combined with the wet weather we've been having , the road is a shade of sandy brown with little ridges of half dry mud. The lads on the gate are often seen sweeping the mud away and occaisionally a lorry is parked nearby with a tank of water and cleaning apparatus. I've gotten used used to it I suppose. But I had to laugh earlier - I was following a pair of east european lads when one of them stopped short of the muddy entrance and refused to go any further. It's just a thin patina of mud, my friend, not quicksand. Honestly, they leave friends and family behind and travel hundreds of miles to discover that despite our wonderful benefits payments, they're just as at risk of getting their clothes dirty. Our Wonderful Benefits Payments It's a wonder I still qualify now that our glorious leader has declared war on claimants. Just the other day I received a huge form to fill in. it must be returned by the due date or payments may stop - the information must be correct or payments may stop - it must be retuirned in the correct envelope or payments may stop - Okay, okay, I get the message. I'll run around everywhere like a headless chicken collating all the information demanded. Phone the doctors surgery to get an exact date. No point phoning the Council - their phone system is designed to induce apoplexy in those attempting to pierce its defenses. I swear there are skeletons with boney fingers around a handset with a tinny voice repeating periodically "Please wait - we're trying to connect you to an advisor". Apparently I missed an interview at the Job Cente about my future as a jobseeker, which is why the form arrived through the post in the first place. It might help if I received it before the day afterward. But hey, that's how things are done in rainy old Swindon. Annoyance Of The Week Yes, it's our old friend, BFG. This morning I had the misfortune to be at the computer when she decided to sit in the next computer. If anyone else made the same running commentary of her woes concerning the library computers she'd throw a tantrum. Just ignore her. When she realises we're not paying her any attention, she'll eventually shut up.... Except she discovered the young lady on the helpdesk is a very helpful person and basically demanded that she ran errands while BFG struggled with her argumentative computer. Ding ding... Round three...