January 28, 2013

You Used to Give Me Roses

And so, here begins the too true story of my unemployed disposition.

I really have to think. Just when did that relationship go pear-shaped? (Actually, Antillean cucumber-shaped would be more accurate). Now was our "split" about me ...or you?

It began so many years ago, when we were both young, and I was cheap, eager and efficient as all get out ...unblemished and size 10. And no job was too grotty or difficult. Plus I probably ran around the office twice as fast, in my two inch Jane Debster heels.  I recall you saying, that I was "your favourite one on the books" and was so keenly sort after.

But then you sold the business. 

I feared things would change. And they did. But then, they actually got better! And you would regularly give me projects and placements. Always, just as my bank funds starting heading towards zero, I would get your unexpected call. You transformed me into an honest, and decent, taxpaying woman! 

I continued to do the cheap, grotty and dubious roles. Like the one at the Western suburbs municipal council branch, where upon arrival at work one day, I had to sidestep a dead body, that lay outstretched, face-up, at the rear entrance. No dramas, it had been covered over with a white cloth, leaving just the naked feet exposed to the breezy Altona air. (And no I'm not making this up.)

Inside, my "colleagues" worked on as if it was just a normal day at the office.

Another "normal" day was the time when they went out on strike, leaving me and another "temp" to run the show. Consequently, a snippy middle-manager called me a scab.  Me a scab?!

Such were the hazards of being an "outsourced" staffer ...working for disgruntled, local government ferals. Oops, did I just say that?


But at Christmas time there would be chocolates and greeting cards arriving in the post, to affirm how much you valued our working relationship.  

I even remember the day I got my "Employee of Excellence" certificate, and that gift of a dark grey backpack - embossed with the agency's logo (which I made a point of never using in public for fear of being targeted as a terrorist). 

Such were the local and international political times.

Sadly, you changed. I changed.

You merged with other entities, and moved offices to the big end of town. Things got less personal. Then I developed an unusual rash, so undertaking further offers from you, was out of the question ...and medically impossible. 

Life and my money earning capacity went down-hill for me from there, and I had no option but to become a "Centrelink consumer" in the "disability" category (what a hoot!).  

My embarrassing mystery illness took some time to get over. 

All that remains is gruesome photographic evidence, being a series of "selfies" taken by my astonished gynaecologist - who at the time was creepily overkeen to preserve one too many, digital visuals of my "rash". It was after all, supposedly, the "worst case he'd seen in twenty years!"

But have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, Dr Speculum? ....and from THAT angle?

"Do you mind me taking the snaps?" I recall Dr. Speculum asking.

"Be my guest," I say, "BUT! ...If they find their way onto the internet, I may just have to KILL you!" 

And, once I was physically fit (and photogenic) again - to tidy up my resume and improve my re-employability - I enrolled in studies to finish off a bucket-listed qualification. I then proudly emailed the agency, a certified copy of my final grades.

Unfortunately, this documentation also certified my birthdate, exposing that I was a woman of a certain age. Heading towards 50! Mon Dieu! That old? ...Calling Doctor Botox!  Actually make that 40, as 50 is apparently the new 30 ...so let's be even about it and we'll average my age out to 45? ...for demographic reasons of course.

And I had kept it hidden for so long. But I was well preserved! . . .Gorgeous in fact, in a - Miss Piggy, meets Nana Mouskouri, meets Carmen Miranda, and Mona Lisa - kind of way. 

Was this the reason why your phone calls and the job opportunities  ceased? Why the arrival of Christmas cards and calendars baring your logo, stopped?

It coincided with  the underwhelming appearance in my letterbox - of Depend incontinence pad samples, Lifeline  brochures (plus a free key ring!), and a Bowel Cancer Detection Kit.

And, in place of your cherished telephone calls offering new career opportunities, I am now only offered unsolicited "stand alone funeral plans", free hearing tests, and government grants for solar panels.

Actually, I should probably take up the hearing test offer, as initially I thought the telemarketer was offering me a stand-alone ceiling fan. After asking them to repeat the last words a third time - I did finally "get it" to be a funeral plan. 

Do life's offerings for the idle .... "mature-aged" unemployed get much better?

And now, after that twenty year, on and off relationship, it is like we are estranged and our once mutually productive and compatible association never existed at all! 

Such were the best of times and worst of times, working for  The *** Recruitment Agency.


The Scarlet Letters

Roughly 240 unsuccessful job applications later, I now feel like I am a marked woman, not unlike the unfortunate soul in the Nathaniel Hawthorne novel. 

So would it be wrong for me to re-brand myself and contact you at The *** Recruitment Agency again? It's likely that all the office staff have changed and wouldn't remember me anyway?

I could give them a call. While I may be almost fifty, on the telephone, I sound like a thirteen year-old. I know this because occasionally when telemarketers call my home, they ask if there's an adult in the house. No I say (thank goodness for small mercies) and gladly hang up.

Is it possible that The *** Recruitment Agency dropped me, because - just like a tatty, paperback Mills and Boon novel from the eighties - I'm labelled past my shelf life ...designated for the dumpster?  How ironic for a librarian of a certain age. 

I refuse to be treated like off milk, old cheese, stale yoghurt, and discarded - hard-copy editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica ...bless it.

WATCH this space.



When Job Hunting Resembles Stalking

Photo: top of page, Annie Pancake

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