February 21, 2014

Job Hunting In Barbie's Dream World [Mutual Obligations: ep 15]

When the following Monday comes around, after not hearing back from Mr Darcy, I resolve to raise the white flag of surrender, and go along to the new Job Skills Training activity, that he'd spoken so glowingly about. Gosh was I excited. NOT!

Instinctively, I decide to go willingly, with the flow of the Job Network's "program", rather than risk the penalties imposed on absconders (aka no Newstart allowance for several weeks), meaning no money to cover essential utilities, food, lodging, telephone, transport, prescription medication (who needs that?) ...And in a worst case scenario - perhaps ending up living in an Ikea box under a tree.

Better still, there's always the possibility of being a night time stowaway, in one of the faux interior settings, within the actual Ikea store itself? Oh what fun! How I yearn to be alone with all the cushions, the light fittings, the comfy sofas. And I could sleep with Strind, Ramvik, and Tofteryd! ....all coffee tables of course. Then there are those Swedish meatballs from the bistro...which I could defrost - so food wouldn't be a problem. Although faux bathroom plumbing could present multiple first world problems.

Returning to theme .....Mr Darcy never did return my phone calls, or emails. In fact he seems strangely absent from the job agency that day.  

Mr Darcy goes AWOL

And quite unexpectedly, I'm soon informed that Darcy has left the Job Network - for good. Gone. Just like that. But where do they go? ....I always wonder? In the past six months, I'd gone through four! such case workers. And sadly, I had so many other participatory activities scheduled, for myself and Darcy .... I digress.

And then well hello Dolly!

Moving forward, oh what joy? it was to meet the new job skills "guru" (one hoped), who would be conducting our course over the next four weeks. 

She's best described as being everything that Monsieur wasn't....(insert heavy sad sigh).  For starters, she bore a strong resemblance to an anorexic version of Lara Bingle ...(insert lugubrious yawn).  Fortunate for her, and unfortunate for a mega-menopausal unemployed uber-cougar of a certain age, who (during such tiresome remedial jobseeking sessions), would so benefit from the visual distraction of another perky Frenchman in tight jeans.  Please social services supremo, Mr Kevin Andrews, won't you send me another of those darling DEEWR employees of excellence....to take the mind off one's pitiful joblessness? ....so late in one's career?

Wearing a mini mini-dress, stiletto heels, and displaying perfect salon quaffed, blonde hair - this new gal on the block, appeared to be a walking, talking, living Barbie doll! And I would say Barbie perhaps had only recently celebrated losing her first teeth, taking her first Contiki Tour (if they still run them?), drinking her first schnapps, getting her first push-up bra, the front door key to mummy and daddy's house, and of course the key to their deluxe model, uber-fuschia Glam Winnebago!

Now don't I sound like a grumpy, and jealous old wench. But really, dear reader, this stick-insect thin chickster must have been half my body weight, oops - I mean AGE! Moreover, I imagine her employment history would span mere nanoseconds, in contrast to my twenty years or so, in the workforce ....not to mention the dole queue. And so naturally I just couldn't help wondering why that Job Network agency couldn't show some wisdom and prudence, by at least hiring a middle-aged Barbie to run the show? It was a far cry from the mature, exquisitely multi dimensional, and extraordinarily nuanced - midlife Monsieur - who had conducted our unemployables class of 2013 .

C'est la vie.

But where oh where are you Monsieur, when I so need you?!

Final plea bargain

So before the session gets underway, not wanting to leave any stone unturned, I remain convinced the mysteriously AWOL Mr Darcy has placed me in the activity by mistake. Subsequently, I cannot stop myself from asking Barbie if there's any chance I could be excused from attending? 

Please please, P-R-E-T-T-Y please Miss Barbie! Please say you'll give an old dame one of those Get Out of Jail Free cards, from the Monopoly community chest (which you'll find under the dinette in the fuschia pink Glam Winnebago) ....Then I can return to the sanctity of my home office, which is (after months and months of unemployment), now state-of-the-art, purpose-built solely for prolific job application production. Furthermore Miss Barbie, don't I look like a dame who already knows her beans on interview deportment, applying for jobs and cold calling?


However, what INDEED was I thinking?! BIG brain malfunction on my part.  Of course it's clear that no such luck exists in Job Networkville. And no surprises ....I don't get a reprieve. Though it was worth a try.

A to Z of Barbie

And yet, amazingly, despite initial teething problems, my feelings of intrepidation soon disappear - when on day one, I discover how nice and congenial Barbie seems. For despite her skinny frame, obvious lack of a carb diet, peak of youth, and unblemished complexion ...she appears so pleasant, warm, and friendly! The Job Jetwork hostess with the mostest! And I simply can't stop myself from letting Barbie know, that with her presentation, poise, and personality - I foresee a lucrative future for her as a commercial TV weather girl. So why is she stuck with having to deal with the famous five unemployables I wonder?

Barbie tells us that her actual training and career goals are in Marketing and Event Management. And we unemployables after all - are an event to manage. So she's come to the right place, I tell her.

Our esteemed job-skills facilitator then slowly revealed enthralling snippets of her own work and home life. And going into full throttle Barbara Walters mode, I ask Barbie, if there's a Ken in her life? I just had to know. And there was! Which was just as well, as she didn't hold back from revealing ALL ....including about her nasty brother. 


Barbie informed us, that her obnoxious sibling, also worked as a Job Skills Trainer - in another job centre - within the same building. Spooky!  Perhaps they're Social Services Minister, Kevin Andrews' love children?!

Then predictably, Barbie puts the spotlight back on we unemployables, by asking each participant to explain to the group, how they ended up being in the course. Now isn't that obvious Barbie? Are you trying to rub our noses in it?!

And then day one turns into day two - and still what a swell? party we unemployables were having. Of course since Barbie was clearly a food avoider, there was no free lunch on offer, although she did kindly let us have "lavatory breaks".

And then there was role play!

We had to split up into pairs and role play. Lucky me, I got to "pair-off" and role play with the nonchalant and spunky young Jeremy ...A fresh-faced lad of thirty years, with oh so beautifully cut wavy hair, which hung in just the right direction across his smooth forehead.  And there was not a facial stud, or tattoo in sight.  Woo-hoo! For a woman of uncertain age (suffering gross facial metal and tattoo fatigue) - who as an unemployee doesn't get out much - Barbie's job readiness class was unexpectedly morphing into a (government funded!) speed dating service, minus the added expense. Entirely win-win.

Jeremy's task, was to get to know anything he could about me in five minutes. Wow! A conversation all about me!  And I talked and drivelled on about my family dynasty, the mafia connections, the challenges I encountered navigating a sibling bridezilla, the dream I had about Mr Darcy and his rabbit, my problems with tracking down a domestic roof-rat, the importance of good doggy daycare, whether he had a pirate costume? ...and was he free next week to role play with me? His place or mine! Of course I didn't say that. Maybe next episode?

And then I got a second chance to role play with Jeremy. Only this time it was the young spunkster's turn to drone on about himself. However in that instance, Barbie told me I had to express a total disinterest in what the young spunk had to say. Why?

Did any of us learn anything from this pointless exercise? Yes we did. We discovered that, at the going rate of nine hundred dollars, or thereabouts (per unemployed participant), the course so far seemed like a waste of Australian taxpayer money. Regardless, I was quite chuffed, when Barbie praised and applauded me in front of the other unemployees - for my "excellent body language skills!" It was a proud moment for a postmodern menopausal unemployable.

And I thought that perhaps Barbie was not so bad after all. 

But hold that thought. What the Hogwarts was I thinking? For we famous five unemployables, were after all, only there for the Australian Employment Services Mutual Obligations program ...NOT! for a Mary Kay cosmetics party.  

And what Barbie does next is unbelievable!


What Barbie Does Next [Mutual Obligations ep 16]



  1. Move over, Bratz! Mattel’s still got a little something up it’s sleeves for the modern Barbie. Plenty to choose from and I've included my personal favourite.

    90210 Barbie- Comes with many interchangeable body parts perfectly suited to reflect the times. Change out lips, nose, and breasts. Not only can you give her implants and Botox at will, you’ll also be able to shape her thighs, stomach and underarms to your liking.

    Cougar Barbie- Comes with rock-hard implants, a recent divorce settlement, and a calculator to help her determine if the age gap between her and her crush is big enough.

    Politician-ish Barbie- Comes with great view of Russia that can be pasted onto Dream House window! She has a vocabulary of over 100 words, although we can’t predict in which order they’ll come out. But either way, they’re totally tweetable.

    Stalker Barbie- Wears customizable “I heart ____ ” shirt, underwear, bra, and tattoo. She’s an active Foursquare participant with “Mayor” status outside your window.

    My personal Favourite is Klaus Barbie- Gender is not an issue here -Born in Bad Godesberg (name is a little ominous isn't it? awkward) today is part of Bonn, Germany. The death of Klaus's abusive, alcoholic father derailed plans for young Barbie to study theology or otherwise become an academic, as his peers had expected. While unemployed, Barbie was drafted into the Nazi labor service went on to become head of Gestapo and carry out some of the worst war crimes ever seen. Rather an extreme career change isn't it.

  2. I was unemployed for almost three years in the early 2000's. It is damned hard. No one prepares you for the emotional torture of intensive job search training-or the incompetencies of the people who are hired to run them. I had perfect resumes rewritten by them with spelling mistakes. And I was the unemployed person!?.

  3. Thanks for this empathic comment. Makes me realise I'm not so crazy for feeling like I want to bang my head against a wall each time I deal with the shananagans of my friendly? local job network. Best wishes to you.