July 25, 2015

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For? [Mutual Obligations ep. 22]

OK. So today's the day. Alas, I return home to my intuitive, excited dog - post jobactive appointment, numero uno. Unscathed. But feeling quite in need of a non-surgical lobotomy.

What do the career-ologists and time management pros say?

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.

And their rule #1? Make self look presentable ..."As if you are going to an actual job interview", and not - en route to the gym,  ....or the letterbox in your manky pyjamas.

So prior to the appointment, I throw on a jobactive-appropriate outfit. Check self out in mirror. See a vision of a stressed-out hag, dressed up as flathead. (But at least I had "bed hair" which is all the rage right now).

So off comes outfit #1, and on goes my go-to-anywhere patterned shift dress. BIG improvement. And I add a finishing touch with my trusty black coat. I grab power-handbag (proudly purchased from Salvos for $8.)  Forgo fuschia pink lipstick now that Barbie's out of the scene.  In fact, due to time limit, I'm make-up free all the way (yes I know, I'm more on-trend than the trendoids).  Fill bag with notepad for doodling, and assorted biros. And of course throw in the printed off resume - which they (jobactivists) said was all I needed to take there.

But then wouldn't you know it?......just as I was about to head out the door, phone rings.

Of course, if it was a telemarketer offering those damn energy-saving light-bulbs - or some other stupid thing - I would default to my Italian persona and say, "Ciao Enzo? Come stai? Dove sai? Quello che ora in Italia ...e che stai indossando!?"  At which point, the telemarketer would hang up IMMEDIATELY. It works for me! (so all those "gap year" Italian language courses in the old country weren't a waste of time and money after all!) Apologies dear reader. I digress.

The telephone caller announces a HUGELY-VERY important family matter to attend to. So with the two older, very employed "sensibly cashed-up siblings" gone bush to attend a wedding (where the reception's to be held in a heritage-listed mental asylum, of all places mind you! Possibly quite appropriate though) - baby bear - being me (the unemployable, working poor of the family), has to deal with a unique urgent situation on the parental homefront ...involving a construction guy in a hard hat, and some uniquely placed water pipes.

Hard-hat guy asks me the $5,000 question. Do I want them (the pipes) to stay or go? All I can think is, what would I know about such pipes?! I know bugger all about pipes.

However, after a quick call to a recently outsourced surrogate Godfather (aka real estate supremo and my NBF ...who knows his pipes), and a quickly and carefully composed extortion toned email - sent from me, to hard-hat guy (as so advised by outsourced surrogate Godfather), it's all sorted. Competently I might add.

Wish I could put THAT on my CV! And at last I can breathe again. And I return to initial program ...being get thee to my jobactive appointment on time.

So baby bear of the family DID GOOD. I then ring, jobactive Central, to profusely apologize that I am running a little late, due to an unforeseen "domestic"? water pipe (not quite Cuban Missile) crisis, scenario.

Naturally got recorded answering machine. So Ieft message telling the jobactive activists, that I'd be a little late ....maybe twenty minutes? And I wonder, should I wait for them to call me back? Possibly arrange another interview time? Then think better go there, otherwise they may cut off my Centrelink inheritance.

When I get there, very harassed looking reception lady says to wait in the big room off to the side. The big room has three computers at one end. At which there are three youngster unemployees seated (wearing gym gear I might add, the sloths! But VERY snazzy sports shoes. That said, such fluro footwear never suited me anyway.)

They madly tap away at who knows what? There's a TV & DVD player at the other end. And most of the room, of course was taken up by a large board-room sized table.

There sat two others like me - midlife "unemployables in waiting" of Asian extraction.

Of course, I'm not of Asian extraction - but quite possibly my exotic dog is.

However, as the minutes tick by - just like the song - I surmise, "I could be turning Japanese. I think I'm turning Japanese. I really think so!"

I greet them cordially, like they are old friends. We all give each other the secret nod, like I expect they do in the mafia.

What I like about the room, is that I get a clear, birds-eye view of my car parked opposite, in a one hour zone. So I can keep an eye on any pre-menstrual parking-ticket inspectors.

There are two different forms on the table. Seeing no one is offering to play online mahjong or Chinese Checkers with me, I take the initiative - grab the forms - and set-to completing them. The first is titled: Personal Skills & Experience Checklist.  The second is titled: Criminal Convictions Form. WTF?!

I ask a WASPY looking guy seated near the doorway, if we need to fill out the Criminal Convictions form. He said he didn't, but I replied, that maybe we should, as it might fast-track us into a better, or any job? ....or even getting noticed by the job(in)active staff?

So time passes. And I overhear the very harassed, evidently distracted staff (all ladies, running around, like roosters with their heads cut off, as my mother would say), say to each other, "Carmen's here."   Again I hear, "Carmen's here." 

And I think (ala Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver), ARE YOU TALKIN' TO ME?! 

So I stand up, cruise past the reception area, quoting Lionel Richie (of course without the orchestral backing), and say,  "Hello, is it me you're looking for ....?"  But no cigar. Waste of time and energy. 

And so despite my poise, pleasantries, and polished presentation, they continue to ignore me. So I return back to the big "naughty room".

At this point my two fellow unemployees of Asian extraction, the WASP guy who didn't fill out the Criminal History form, and the three free-range unemployables (previously tapping away at the computers), have all but disappeared. And I'm home alone there.

I bee-line out to the permanently harassed reception lady, explain I have to check-out of jobactive HQ temporarily, to re-park my car (and like the Terminator), say, "I WILL return!" And I leave my resume (and other paper work, completed Skills Checklist & Criminal Convictions form) with her to remind her (or prove) that I am/was there.

With car re-parked, I return to jobactive Central, and wander around the room, checking out the contents of the half-empty bookcase. And I can't help noticing a BIG glass jar in one corner. It's like those enormous ones you see in homewares stores filled with fake white coral, or plastic lemons. In fact, the only other place I've spotted them, is in a medical museum collection, filled with post-mortem marsupials. On it is written: Daily Reflection Jar.

How lovely.

Like an ADHD, inquisitive year 9 student, I can't stop myself from taking a closer look. Feeling the harassed reception lady is totally disinterested in my presence, I slowly and very quietly open the glass lid (sideways doublechecking that permanently harassed reception lady isn't watching me).

Inside are - not post-mortem marsupials of course - but strips of paper with quotations. No surprises there. So I pull one out. It states, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain. And I shove it in my handbag. The strip of paper that is, not the huge glass jar.

Although I do see a place for that humongous vessel on my sideboard at home. They're quite on trend and rather pricey. But it wouldn't fit in my handbag. Must take bigger bag next time.

And I instantly ponder, what does it mean? Does Mark Twain MEAN that I'm there at jobactive Central, to have that very question answered? Or should I have double-dipped? ...and got a second opinion/strip of paper?

But I fear harassed reception lady might catch me. So I destroy any evidence of foul-play, grab a few leaflets to read, and sit down ....like the sensible woman of a certain age that I am.

Alone, I'm now feeling home and hosed, in the "waiting room" ....like I'm settled in there for the night.

In my bag, I have a borrowed DVD of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that I'm late in returning. And to catch a few extra glimpses of sweetie pie Bill Nighy, consider popping it into the TV/DVD player to give it a quick re-run. No time like the present. And I ponder that final scene in the first film, where Judy Dench sits riding on the back of a motorbike with Bill Nighy.  And decide to add that last scene to my bucket list.

Actually, I do recall doing that same scene when on holidays in Bali, (similar bike, different location) maybe a decade ago. But of course, not with Bill Nighy - though with someone else's husband, while their wife was off shopping. And yes I expect they're still happily married! And yes it was just a ride into Denpasar on a motorbike and nothing more! I digress. 


Meantime, a jobactive leaflet on the NEIS program diverts my attention.

With securing a job, currently as difficult as traversing Franz Josef Glacier (in stilettos), I've lately considered that running some kind of little business/start-up could be a shrewd manoeuvre. But what business? So I'm glad I've got the additional time to devour such a resourceful document.

Not meeting jobactive NEIS program criterion, are businesses involving: sex industry work, weaponry distribution, non compliant tattooing, mobile psychic and tarot reading, evangelical pursuits, clairvoyance, hypnotic surgery, aura washing (what's that?), numerology, gambling, greyhound management, illegal drug services.
So there goes those ideas!
And despite heading toward my second hour's wait, I'm feeling ok about things, having sorted out my former family associated matter. However, even though I continue to make my presence felt, by wandering around the agency - using their photocopier, talking loudly on my phone etc., they (the staff) continue to ignore me. Maybe they think I'm the "mystery shopper" sent from ASIO?" In which case I should have been taken care of first.
I also think that maybe they're keeping me waiting as punishment for being late - even though I had a good excuse - and being sent to the BIG side room was equivalent to being told to sit on the naughty step by that no-nonsense, English TV Supernanny.

I continue waiting.
FINALLY, I  tell harassed reception lady that I just HAVE TO LEAVE (as it's nearing my bed-time. Sorry this last bit's not true). Only then did someone come and profusely apologize that they'd forgotten I was there. I therefore ask if she could PLEASE!! just FAST TRACK my registration (like a quick pap smear, just get it over with!), as I had things to do (overdue DVD to return, people to see, and a lonely dog at home all ALONE that needed patting).

And you know what, my "case manager" was REALLY REALLY nice to me! Not at all like Gestapo Barbie.  But unfortunately - on another level - not as delectable as monsieur.

And of course she was nowhere near anything like my former case "master", being the strapping, fresh-faced, unblemished, speciman .....Mr Darcy.

Moreover, she had no chocolate to offer from her bottom drawer ...to reward me for being such a GOOD GIRL!! for waiting all that time. BUT, she actually had a sense of humour!!

And so did I? ....have a sense of humour  S-U-R-P-R-I-S-I-N-G-L-Y??!!

Alas, the overtly forgetful, "madam case manager" fast-tracked it all. Said that I only needed to go there once a month and that I'm a "Stream B person."

Now what does that mean on the Myers-Briggs Scale? Is it B for bad. B for brilliant? B for b*tch? Bilingual??  Or ....bag lady? Or all of the above?

And in return, which "Stream" would I apply, to madam case manager ...and her associated industry? Why of course Stream B ...That is, B for Batsh*t. Pardon mon French!! ...But I'd had a bad week.

Apologies for the drivel dear reader. Can you even bear to hear more of this?

Please so advise.  


Wedding update: Regarding that "destination wedding" reception held in a heritage listed mental asylum attended by my sensible, self-funded sisters, (somewhere Back of Bourke, for all I know) - middle sibling has informed me that the actual wedding ceremony took place in the asylum's morgue. And no, I am NOT making this up. It's reported however, that the bride did look lovely, food was great, and all went spiffingly.




  1. Carmen, What a shame your employment provider did not have a Public Address system. You could have commandeered it and advised "Attention staff and clients,Carmen has been here 2 hours waiting for her appointment and is available NOW at reception for consultation." That would have got their attention.

    I only had to wait forty minutes for my last appointment, and was then interviewed by a consultant who advised she was there for 2 weeks only to help out. That makes 3 different consultants in my last 3 interviews, with zero continuity.

    However, on the plus side, there seems to be a Speaker's position available in Parliament now that Bronwyn has finally resigned. Comes with great travel benefits!


    1. I know, I can't recall ever being in a helicopter, but not sure if I could keep my hair in the same immaculate conditions, that she seems to. Thanks for commenting Jenny. Glad to know someone's reading my drivel.