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Found 9 results

  1. caldrail

    Two Bars And Other Tales

    Caldrail's blog is missing. Or at least the last weeks entry is. Well, no, not really, I just forgot to write one. So I apologise for the tension this had caused around the world as people bite their nails hopin g my next entry will magically appear. David Cameron and Ed Milliband exchanged insults in an angry row. Three schoolgrils gave up and went to Syria. Even Jeremy Clarkson punched his producer over an argument about it and caused the BBC a multi million pound commercial loss. Sorry about that. Lucky for me I'm not actually responsible isn't it? As it happens I've also been leaving my emails untounched for a couple of weeks. Although I've been employed for three months now the many and various agencies are still sending job laerts regularly. Last week I got a phone call from an agency asking if I wanted to do two weeks labour in a role in which my certification has lapsed, that I have no qualification for, and is in the next county. No. Not really. And do they expect me to be available the next morning? Perhaps they ought to read my CV properly. I was trained for a decade to write one after all. Out! With most of my time devoted either to sleeping, shopping, or working, I've had little time to wander around my usual haunts. I popped into the local aprk on my way to the library this morning and yes, the birds are still fighting. One goose has clearly become unpopular, with the others evicting it very loudly. Know how you fell buddy. It's like my last claims advisor. She trampled me into the dust, squished my indentity, and then began trying to recreate me as an embodiement of a figment of her imagination. Turning me into someone I don't know, don't understand, or even like. And I was supposed to get a job while I was trapped in psychological quicksand? Ridiculous. Like all women, she believed she could change me. Only this time she had the authority to do it. Get On With It! Lately I've been doing less floor sweeping and more pallet collection at work. Not sure which is the most tiring. Sweeping the floors involves walking all day and constant bending down to pick up rubbish. Pallet collection requires guiding an electric truck around everyone elses in tight spaces with the clock ticking, lifting one pallet after another onto a pile for the lads to use on the container bay, and some of those pallets are seriously heavy without any load on them. The warehouse boss was wandering around the other day, as he often does, and stopped by a bunch of guys who were doing the sweeping job I used to do alone while I got on with the pallets. "You've all done very weell" He told them, to my utter chagrin, since they amble about and haven't been doing the job for longer than a week or two. "Credit where credit is due". Really? Hello, Mr Boss, I'm over here.... No? Typical. But it isn't all mindless tedium and hard work. The last time I got a pallet truck out I noticed the meter was quite low, only three bars out of thirty, and it looked unlikely the truck would survive the whole shift without the battery going flat. Those vehicles are at a premium. It's a wonder fights don't break out over who gets to drive one. Then I noticed another truck out in the warehouse with twenty bars. Some of the lads thought I was trying to do something sneaky, but no, I did speak to the colleague whose truck it was and we agreed under the circumstances that a swap was okay. Shortly after I had to take a toilet break. It happens, even to the best of us, and certainly to those of us with fifty year old bladders and energy drink habits. When I came out, my truck meter said two bars. What the...?!!!!! As it happened I didn't run of electricity. Pallets were delivered all day, I became tired and broken by the end of the shift, and the managers were happy. Two bars on my wagon, and ah'm still rollin' along.... Language Of The Week Definitely Polish. With so many eastern europeans in the warehouse it's difficult to avoid hearing it, a strange arcane tongue impossible to understand, and I suspect those pesky poles know it. So I'm making an effort to learn a litle Polish. As it happens some of the lads are delighted, and take great pleasure in pointing out that my pronounciation is hopelessly wrong. But I'm getting there... One word at a time... do widzenia!
  2. caldrail

    Every Day At Work

    Every day at work begins with a team briefiing. Slowly at first, then in a great rush as the canteen empties, the shift personnel gather at the allotted place to discover who is on the premises, who is doing what for the next eight hours, and what will happen if certain lazy activities continue. The manager calls for silence so he can call the register. After a five second wait he calls again with a stern stare at the knot of youngsters who don't understand what 'quiet please' means. Eventually the buzz of conversation subsides to whispers and the register is called. "Gary?" The manager spoke aloud without looking up from his list. With no answer, he calls again, this time looking around in case Gary is either too busy whispering to his mates or has failed utterly to comprehend that he has to acknowledge his presence. In this case I did the decent thing and reminded him that Gary was on holiday. The manager sighed as he realised his list of work allocation was completely ruined. He had no choice but to note down the lack of Gary's in the warehouse and submit to my superior know;ledge of who was standing around in plain sight. Sometimes we have to confirm that the person is on the premises for them. There's always one or two who aren't where they're supposed to be. Punkman, our resident refugee from society, made a joke of it a few days ago. After each name he said "Yeah, he's here". Yet when his own name was called he stayed silent, failing utterly to remember that he was supposed to answer. So I said aloud "Yeah, he's here". It's as well Punkman has a sense of humour. On the day the manager decided that Punkman was to be in charge of a team he muttered "Let the facism begin...". Talking About Fascism Islamic State are back in the news again with a trip down to the local museum where objects of antiquity are being smashed with sledgehammers as 'false idols'. Fundamentalists do seem amenable to this sort of behaviour - the Taliban dynamited antiquities and vandals in Egypt swept through a museum in Cairo not so long ago. Quite apart from the loss of pricelss articles of regional interest, is Islamic State so feeble that relics whose religious significance vanished hundreds if not thousands of years ago is somehow some kind of threat to their ugly regime? I suppose that's an obvious thing to ask. It does strike me however that the non-entities who smashed statues energetically really wouldn't know a false idol if they saw one. That is after all why they've been sucked into a religious movement and told what to do. They simply obey because they don't know any better. News that Islamic State is opening schools in Syria doesn't fill me with optimism either. Talk about the blind leading the blind. Working In The Jungle The big rumour at work right now is the impending fashion choices being made for teams. Already the quality control people sport a snazzy purple high-vis. What amuses people is the assertion that those of us on the hygiene team will be allocated pink high-vis vests. Hard Hat refuses to believe this slight on his honour, manhood, self respect, his very identity, can possibly be true. Funnily enough, those of us on the bottom rank of warehouse status often find ways to gauge each other. I for instance got quite a boost when I was trained up on pallet trucks. Earlier this week a team leader started approaching me with news that complaints had been made against me. No-one had said anything to me of course, but that wasn't the point. Eventually the leader in question ordered me off the truck despite my tantrums and logical arguments, but no matter, my line manager supported me. That's how hard work affects your status. There's always a testing period between the envious and the grateful. On some days I have no choice but to get a pump truck, a sort of parcel trolley you push, pull, and swear at, and do the same job without the assistance of electrical power. It's called manual work. It's also considered by many the sign of a lowly person who does not have the influence to be authorised to drive trucks. "You got a license for that?" One wag called from the gloom of a container being unloaded, when he saw me hauling a pump truck across the warehouse floor. Funny. No matter. Give it a day or two and I'll be whizzing around on a powered truck again instead of heaving boxes out of a container. At least until those pesky pink high-vis vests get issued, at which point no-one will have any sympathy. Day Of The Week That's enough about work. Today is Sunday and there's a clear blue sky out there..... Erm.... Bye.
  3. caldrail

    Hands On The Reins

    Don't you just love conspiracy theory? Despite everyones manifest inability to control their own destiny and Mankind's penchant for getting it wrong, people believe their lives are being controlled by some strange unseen group of elite conspirators. Personally I find it a bit hard to imagine that the typical career politician reaches the top of his political tree and becomes top dog in his own country only to be told what to do with it by Men In Grey. The whole genre is nothing more than religion by another name - the very same sense of our lives being buffetted by forces we don't understand gave rise to ideas of gods, devils, and things that go bump in the night. Now we invent secret cabals of influential people that somehow control every aspect of our existence. I met a convert the other day. A young Romanian worker who was adamant that our dearly beloved BBC news was 'controlled'. I pointed out that the news team make editorial decisions about which stories it runs with, allowing for authenticity or public interest. "No no no" He urgently interupted in wide eyed piousy, "The news is controlled. I see on internet video of three thousand people being shot in back of head by ISIS terrorist with AK47. But BBC does not show it.". Oh. I get it. The internet is the source of all uncontrolled and real news is it? As much as I believe ISIS is liable to inflict such violence, even they have to obey the laws of terrorist practicality. In order to watch a terrorist shoot three thousand people taking an average of ten seconds overall for each, in order to aim, move, fire, and reload, would require a video eight hours long. I seriously doubt the BBC would contemplate showing that. Not even excerpts either - most people don't want to watch snuff movies. It's also worth pointing that something like a hundred AK47 magazines would be required for the task at the very least. That's a lot of ammunition to carry around. "No no no" He replied to my explanations, "I give you link to website that shows these things." No, don't bother... Under A Pass Walking back and forth through a pedestrian underpass near the bus station there's three things you an be sure of. Firstly it's going to be packed with people walking back and forth, secondly there's going to be some unfortunate soul who did not survive the encounter with their claims advisor sat under a duvet, and thirdly, someone will be busking. For some time we've been subjected to some old guy with a guitar, performing endless and half hearted blues music. This last time was a little less palatable. A youngster was banging the heck out of upturned pots and pans to an amplified drum track. Quite badly too. Of course it's easy to criticise. I learned that lesson in the music business. It did occur to ne though that back in the days when I was a teenager attracted to playing a drumkit and unable to own one, that I'd gone through a process of starting my experience of percussion with a mattress annoying everyone who could hear my efforts. Will this youngster go on to see his face on Drummer Monthly? A house in the country? Audiences of thousands around the world? Don't laugh - I used to think that was where I was headed. Okay, I did achieve a few big audiences and my stick skills ended up somewhat better than his. These days I keep a warehouse tidy. Maybe I ought to warrn him that no matter what his ambitions are, his life will be controlled by Men In Grey who will frustrate his efforts for the betterment of Mankind? Heck, I need to startb using the internet more... Training Of The Week Proof that my life in the workplace is controlled by management, I was offered an opportunity to get trained up on a pallet truck the other week. Not that big a deal in some respects - I've driven such vehicles in warehouses for years - but the fact the company was willing to invest in my training is a good sign. So I watched the non-violent videos, listened to the advice, took the truck out into the warehouse and guided it through an obstacle course, and finally passed a theory test. All passed. All smiles and handshakes. Once let loose my colleagues took the opportunity to poke fun, though some did congratulate me on my achievement. Eventually I came across Hard Hat in the racks who was most amused at my new mode of transport. I also got a phone call asking me what I wanted to do with those qualifications I'd gotten whilst unemployed. You mean the ones I asked you to tear up? Don't bother me with trvialities lady, I've got a pallet truck to drive...
  4. caldrail

    It's A Wonderful Life

    "You've had a wonderful life" My claims advisor had told me, having gleaned that pearl of wisdom fom my CV. Of course like all CV's it merely accentuated the positive. All those disasters and mistakes over the years never made it to the final draft, never mind the interminable hassles that life forces us to endure. She was of course trying to win my approval for her state sponsored rebuild of my appearance, character, and history, in the vain hope I might actually become employable. Little did she know that my lucky rabbit's foot would strike again and I'd get a job by my own efforts, unemployable or not. Is my life wonderful? That's an interesting question. It is true I've done things many people never will, but then again, the price was high. I've lost out on many aspects of life that those same people take for granted. Okay, the decade of being an aspiring musician gave me some purpose in life. And the following decade of fast cars and flying aeroplanes was very enjoyable, thank you very much. The following decade of unemployable mediocrity and occaisional disaster hasn't been quite so fun, no matter what Eva believes. Is my life wionderful right now? Erm, no. I'm doing a job that is the most physically demanding I've ever undertaken, at a relatively unfit and unhealthy fifty plus. Not well paid or secure, either, not to mention being forced to use a bus to get to and from my home, which for me is tantamount to raising a white flag. Truth is I'm just not used to going home barely able to walk. On the bright side, I can of course thumb my nose at Eva, my domineering and ignorant claims advisor. Maybe life ain't that bad after all. Pallet Man Having to cope with my persistent cold means I've taken to imbibing some much needed Lemsip during my lunchbreak. I hate the stuff. True, it helps me get through the day, but the taste is foul. They say medecine only works if you can barely swallow it. Hard Hat, my afro-carribean colleague who believs NASA overlooked him in the race to land on the moon, noticed I was getting abit drowsy. He generously offered me a can of some energy drink or other. I don't usually have much time for the stories of how these drinks affect people, but ye gods, that on top of Lemsip did the trick. I feel myself changing... Growing stronger... Stand back mortals. I am now Pallet Man, superhero and defender of the oppressed warehouseman. Up up and stack 'em! Wonderful Life Of The Week Right now I'm sat at a computer cubicle at my local library. Next to me is the same guy I always seem to be sat next to, irrespective of when I actually sit down for a couple of hours. He looks sort of like Bilbo Baggins evil twin brother. I wouldn't ordinarily take any notice but he talks to himself all the time. I get a running commentary of his internet activity. Almost as annoying as BFL, and the last time she sat down beside me (obviously losing a struggle with Gibbering Baggins for that accolade), she very loudly proclaimed what she was doing and moaned when she couldn't. It's been several years and she still hasn't got the message that I'm not interested in being her best friend. That lady who moans about my presence at the library moaned at me again today. And last night, a lady on the bus demanded to know where I got my travel pass from. Why, the bus fairy, of course. All I have to do is lay down a large sum of cash on a particular desk and it magically appears in my hand. Easy.
  5. caldrail

    Coping With Lifes Little Winters

    The colour of light through my bedroom curtains this morning was unmistakeable. Definitely snow. Not a great deal of it, but the yard and car park beyond had been given a white sheen. As I wearily glanced outside, the snow was still falling - it's tailed off right now and the sun is breaking through. Winter has a bit of a problem right now. It doesn't seem to know what sort of weather to throw at us. Wind, rain, snow, bitter cold sunshine, it changes on the hour every hour. Yesterday it started to hail. British hail is somewaht weedy compared to the icy cannon projectiles you get in some parts of the world, but that makes it a mere inconvenience to us Brits. Especially when a hailstone drops straight down the back of your neck, which is what happened to me. There I was, minding my own business, when all of a sudden I'm squirning uncontrollably in the street and making strange moans of discomfort. People notice this sort of thing, usually when they don't know what caused it. Crawling Into Work Another cold morning. TIme then to answer the call of the alarm clock at some ungodly hour of the morning, ignore the protests shouted through the walls of my home, and head down to the bus stop, hopefully fully dressed, for that all important bus to work. I feel so ordinary these days. The town has an empty clammy feel. A long high street is almost deserted and tinged in an amber glow, aside from some guy who I know will be taking the the same bus as me. He stops at a cash machine to pay for his ticket. He's already paid for his cigarettes which he'll chainsmoke as he waits behind me at the bus station. That's his business of course, it's just that he has the annoying habit exhaling as noisily as possible. Swindon's bus station is doomed. They're going to build a new one sooner or later but for now the dull brick edifice hiding under the shadow of a disused multi-story car park will do. A few hardy souls hang around here and there, aside from my chainsmoking fellow passenger who queues up behind me every day so I can derive such pleasure fro listening to his cigarette habit. A van turns up to drop off piles of newspapers. The Devizes bus turns in off the main road. That'll be full of several passengers shortly and probably on its way. Second comes our bus showing 'No Service' as it turns into the bay. The driver gets out and heads into the admin offices for a few minutes. Eventually he'll be back, fussing with the controls of the ungainly double decker, and then allowing us to present travel passes, coins, or desperate pleas for assistance. Some bus drivers are quick, others aren't. Some struggle with issuing ticketrs, some are incredibly efficient. I see the same people boarding or disembarking at the same stops. No-one says hello. We're all too miserable at having to get out of bed to go to work. My Day At Work One of the team leaders goes through the register. After four weeks of persuasion I finally managed to get them to put my name on it. "Caldrail?" Yup. "Pallets today please" That means I'll be wandering around the racks finding empty pallets so the guys unoading containers can put more boxes on them. Well that's the next eight hours sorted then. End Of The Shift Finally it's time to go home. Suddenly the warehouse comes alive and it's a life or death sruggle to find your bag, wrap up for the cold weather outside, and clock out out as the next shift rushes in desperately trying to arrive on time. Hard Hat, my chilled out colleague at work, never rushes at any time. He's never frantic, breathless, urgent, or even remotely rushed for any reason whatsoever. At lunchbreaks he sometimes takes a quick nap. When we wait at the bus stop after work, he's guaranteed to amble up the road long after we've settled who's going to be first to board the bus. A couple of times I've mentioned that my life would be complete if I ever saw Hard Hat running for the bus. My life is complete. And The Winner Is... As a fourteen year old I went with the school on a skiing trip to Austria. All a big adventure at that age, made embarrasing by parents giving us last minute advice and emotional send off's. No matter. We negotiated the unfamiliar hazards of a Dan Air flight to Munich and a long coach journey across the border, finally arriving at the resort. One kid got caught smoking and would have been sent home had that not meant a teacher would have cut short their holiday. On the other hand, the much hated geography teacher got hit by a snowball. By the end of the week, it was time to settle the most important question of all. Who was the best skier? Naturally the dominant lads, the ones good at football, pretty much figured it was one of them, with one character a clear favourite in the stakes. So we gathered on the slopes that last morning for a timed slalom run, not just the school, but every tourist at the site. I was number five in the running order. With mounting trepidation I watched the others head off. Gate 1.. Gate 2... Gate 3... Then Gate 4, a nasty tight left turn on the brow of a steep drop. Every skier in front of me fell over at that point. Okay. I'll make a note of that. Ready!... Three... Two... One... GO! I was off. My mind was absolutely focused on the task. I didn't harbour any fantasies of doing well, but I sure as heck was going to try. Then I arrived at Gate 4. Snowplough braking... turn as I reach the edge and lean in.. Oh yes. That's how it's done. I carried on and headed for the finish line quite satisified with my efforts. The austrians at the finish line were yelling at me, urging me on enthusiatically, and somewhat bemused I gave myself a few pushes with the sticks. They were all thumbs up and germanic appraisals, which I failed utterly to understand. Here's the thing. I was the only skier that day who did not fall over at Gate 4. The only one. I watched amused as each and every contestant did a sort of helpless swan dive off the dip. Not only that, I sat there in disbelief that night when the instructors handed out the certificates. My name wasn't appearing. Until the end. Not only had I beaten my classmates, I'd beaten everyone at the resort, adults as well. Defintely one of my finest moments.
  6. caldrail

    2015 Part One

    Woo hoo! 2015! Yeah. 2015. Who would have thought we'd make it this far? What with the Nostrodamus prophecies of global apocalyptic disaster, global warming, outbreaks of Ebola, christians preaching the return of Jesus and mysterious disappearances, the relentless advance of the electric car, my unemployment benefit payments cancelled, no heating in my home, and finally discovering that being more than fifty years of age really does mean you have to resort to a bus pass. The other day I had a phone call from somebody. Not sure who it was, but they enquired about my involvement in a road accident two and half years ago. Hang on... That would mean the summer of 2012... I haven't driven a car since 2008, which means the only auy I could have gotten involved was if I had driven through a time-space anomaly, the sort of thing my claims advisor stops a claimants money for. Wow. Some accident. New years Resolution I faithfully undertake not to have so many car accidents. Bird In The Hand "Look!" Said the slovakian forklift driver, pointing toward the edge of the racking. Yes. I can see it. What's the big deal? I mean, it's just another piece of rubbish on the floor. I'll pick it up as I go by... "No, look!" He insisted. Then I saw what the big deal was. Not a piece of rubbish, but an actual little brown bird, sat there on the squeaky pale blue dusty floor, trapped in a strange rectilinear forest of cardboard, wood, and steel that we know as a warehouse. I know how it feels. A Pop Song Too Far I happened to catch a television documentary the other day. All about those Swedish superstars, Abba. You know, they may not be exactly the coolest artists to remember from the seventies, but face it, without them, where would Brotherhood of Man be? Truth is I found listening to all those familiar hits from long ago difficult to deal with. So synonomous with my formative years that all those uncomfortably embarrasing memories of being an awkward teenager came flooding back. It wasn't that I had any particular fantasy about the two lovely ladies (and none about their male partners), it's just that Abba were everywhere in those days. Television, radio, music stores... Inescapable. Of course these days I'm a bit older and now I've reached the age where being embarrasing is fun. Such as my guitar playing, military surplus trousers, and a complete inability to balance when the bus is in motion. Mystery Of The Week So now if you'll excuse me, I have another episode of Star Trek related entertainment to wait for. In the meantime I sit there watching the Father Dowling Mysteries. Not that the program entertains me you see, it's just that I live in hope I'll catch the episode where Father Dowling finally succumbs to temptation and seduces Sister Stephanie on one of their late night stakeouts of the villains HQ. I know this sort of thing goes on... I've listened to Abba lyrics.
  7. caldrail

    Tales From A Warehouse

    Although I've already mentioned I'm currently a dustman inside a warehouse, the company did briefly try me on unliading containers. That's where I got the bruises from, both physical and ego related. It turns out that my age and physical fitness have somewhat reduced my ability to handle boxes in excess of twenty five kilos in weight. There's quite a few of them packed into a typical container. Some are more a hundred kilos. Help. Of course I'm not working alone. I joined a bunch of cheery youths engaged in the task of unloading. One lad vanished deep into a gap between boxes to help push them out. Obviously a former housebreaker, he was quickly nicknamed 'Gerbil'. I on the other hand inevitably got called 'Grandad'. Cheers guys. Another chap happened to be in the wrong plae at the wrong time as a box corner buried itself into his groin. "Mind the penis!" He said, somewhat concerned for the continued safe operation of his anatomy. "Nah, you don't need it." I quipped, clearly stung by references to my advancing age. Later on he noted my wheezing helplessness. "I'm not young any more" was my excuse. With some artistic license he replied that he was twice my age and hence my excuse was invalid. "Twice my age?" I answered, "That's why you don't need your penis". Warehousing is such fun. Houston We Have A Challenge One of my colleagues is a very laid back afro-carribean chap. So laid back that the word horizontal loses all meaning. Imagine my suprise then when he told me he liked a challenge. Pardon me? Face it, you're not NASA material. He insisted he could be. Houston - "Ahh, Apollo Thirteen, we have some strange readings back here. Is everything okay up there?" Astronaut - "Housten, we have no problem at all. Houston - "Right. We're showing oxygen leakages. Please confirm." Astronaut - "Oh yeah. Sorry 'bout dat. Heh heh..." I have to work with this guy. Not that any work gets done. On A Mission One of the team leaders called me over. For a moment I thought I was about to get told off for some obscure misdemeanour, but no, the warehouse needed two boxes from the overflow warehouse across the road. So me and a company veteran popped over to the deserted building to risk life and limb in a vain search for two boxes among thousands stashed in tall rows in utter darkness. He found them because he had a torch. I just bumped into a lot of cardbiard and got lost in the darkness. So once I'd been rescued we girded our loins and heaved the boxes out into the damp dark night. Talk about ridiculous. We would have been fine but with strong blustery winds our simple task turned into a sort of kamikaze mission. Once the wind caught the box staying on the pavement was all but impossible, you either wandered helplessly into the road or fall over a herbaceous border. Fear not. Mission accomplished. Eventually. Criticism Of The Week Thee I was minding my own television when some udiot outside the house shouted "Your blog is rubbish!" What? Again? Oh well. At least he read it.
  8. caldrail

    Of Dreams And Dungheaps

    Last night I wearily wound my way home from work. That's right, I'm working. Or at least I'm trying to. I've discovered that being over fifty years old isn't what I thought it would be. Blisters on my feet, a long bruise on my leg when a sixty eight kilo carton fell on it, stiff legs from constant walking, and worst of all, a well and truly bruised ego. Being a dustman in a warehouse isn't exactly what I 'd planned for. Across the street were two doormen outside a gentlemans club. I've always called them the 'Bruise Briothers', identikit bruisers with overcoats and bald heads, looking like refugees from a Bond movie audition. They don't think much of me. I'm not bothered about that, but making it known at the top of their jocular voices wasn't welcome. So I'm living in dreamworld, eh? Feels more like a nightmare right now. But maybe you're right. Maybe I should stop believing the world is about possibilities, that I should be arrested for conspiring to be success, or that a migistrate should punish me most severely for several counts of gross assistance to others? Perhaps I should take their example, and stand in a doorway all night haranguing passers by? Then it occurs to me. These two idiots have nothing in their lives other than the right to obstruct whoever they don't like from entering a premises. So they feel powerful. Big fish in a very tiny pond. You know what? They're welcome to it. Okay. Back to the dreamworld. Well And Truly Mistered There is also a rumour that I've had my title taken away. Not true. I can squish that rumour with one sentence. What did happen was that instead of an interrogation, my claims advisor then decided to try and become a sort of mother figure. Why is it that middle aged women from northern England have to be so odious? Or is that people in the north push these harridans elsewhere because they can't stand them either? In an impossibly condescending tone, she informed me that my title was 'just a bit of paper' and that it was a serious impediment to getting a job? Pardon me? I've had more interest from employers in the last six months than I did in the last six years. Well. She's devalued all my efforts to find a job, reduced me to plebian status in the eyes of the Job Centre, accused me of acting illegally, virtually blackmailed me by witholding dole payments, and then had the gall to think I would in some way begin to respect her. No wonder I'm feeling a bit woebegone. The irony of this is that barely minutes before I was obliged to change my CV on the internet to a politically correct and colourless mini-me version, my somewhat more colourful CV with title and heradlry finally got me a job. As a dustman in a warehouse. Unfair Life Of The Week It so happens that one of my colleagues at work is a caucasian immgrant from Bradford. He sympathised with my description of my claims advisor - maybe I was right about northern women after all - but what amzes me is how this twenty one year old is getting interesting things to do. Technicaly he's supposed to be doing the same sorts of things as me, but on one day he was asked to go upstairs into the IT department to help out, then the other day, got a message that he would spend the next day in the offices doing photography for their marketing department. Yeah. See you at work mate. At least I've still got the weekend to feel sorry for myself and find the will to do the dishes.
  9. At the Charity life went on in a sort of organised chaos. You turned up, sat through a prayer meeting, then got told what your duties were for the day. I suppose I was lucky as I often got scheduled to work as a drivers mate on the company van, collecting and delivering secondhand furniture. A relaxing sort of job. Mostly. Okay, the driver was a bit highly stressed, often losing his temper, and of course the drawback to collecting and delivering furniture is that bulky objects are often heavy and don't always coveniently fit through the gaps provided. I had an advantage of course. Unlike many of the unemployed layabouts drafted to work at the Charity, I've long experience of getting musical equipment in and out of gigs, of long days and nights spent in a van, and even some casual multi-drop delivery work. I also had long experience of helping my father move furniture around the house. Not sure why it was ever necessary, but it gave him something to organise and so I got on with it. So it turned out to be something of a busman's holiday. The weather was glorious, we all had a good laugh in the van (except when the driver got annoyed at somebody), and trundled around the local area visiting houses we never knew existed, meeting all sorts of strange new life and new civilisations, going where vans have never been before. Sometimes you stopped by a huge expensive house to pick up donated odds and ends. All smiles and hearty farewells. Sometimes you delivered to the less salubrious hovels in town, places that haven't been cleaned since 1972, that stink of curry powder, urine, or other strange substances. Sometimes you had to take the door off to get the goods inside. Sometimes you had to disassemble the goods to get them through the door. Failure was never an option. It meant going back to base to face a manager who'd received an angry phone cal about wasted money. It's a funny thing. Life. I trained as an engineer, learned to be a musician, studied various categores of academic knowledge, became a private pilot in two countries, and yet despite all of that I still end up moving furniture around. Struggle Of The Week My fight for sanity in the jobsearching business goes on. Firstly there's Mrs Claims Advisor, who has been programmed by some secret organisation to repeat the same conversation over and over. "I don't why you're not getting anywhere. You're jobsearching is a high enough standard..." Think we might have covered this last week. And the week before that. "Why do you think you're not getting anywhere?" And this week too. So I patiently trot out the same reasons why finding gainful employment has so far eluded me. I'm not being dishonest or looking for excuses, but the reason she wants me to admit to is... Ummmh.... Errrr..... Actually I do know what she wants me to say but she's wrong. Completely. All she wants is for me to be exactly the same as every other claimant who comes before her. Variety, or indeed any form of individuality, is a difficult concept for a claims advisor. The other aspect of my fight for truth, justice, and the employable way us the Job Agency. I might have mentioned them earlier. Never in any sphere of human endeavour has a bureaucracy accumulated siuch a mammoth collection of self serving small minded pedantic pen pushers. Take this example. I look for work on an internet website. Usually you just select the vacancy that interests you, click on a few choices, add a little bit of supportive text, or perhaps answer a stuid question or two, then click on 'Apply'. You sit back and wait for the rejection in anything between two minutes and two months. Easy. However some agencies think applicants should be given more opoortunity to waste time and effort in applying for work, so they disable this easy option and get you to make a phone call instead, in which they tell you that they have a vacncy exactly the same as they advertised and could you please come and see them in their office? So why not just suggest that on the website and save me the bother of paying for a phone call? It gets worse. I asked for the name of the person the advert specified as the contact, which in this case turned out not be a person, but the agency itself. Eventually this confusion was ironed out. Who says I don't have communication skills? Then the lady said "All we have is this furniture warehouse vacancy. It will involve some heavy lifting...Is that what you want to do?" You know what? It was my childhood dream to lift heavy objects. I studied heavy weights at school, and got myself an O Level in Applied Lifting followed by a Degree in Industrial Physics. Ten years appprenticeship as a Manual Load Handler, followed by a fifteen year career of shoving and pushing. I also lift weights for a hobby. No. I'm joking. My CV doesn't say that, and neither did I. In fact I could barely resist laughing as I told her that lifting heavy objects wasn't exactly a career of choice but if it pays the bills.... You could hear her disappointment over the phone. Is she serious?