If it’s so important that I work, why is it so difficult to gain work? This is the question that featured most prominently in my mind while unemployed, and it remains prominent even now since I’ve gained full time work. It also feels difficult to keep a job – however simple the job. And mine’s bloody simple. I’m now doing menial work, in a blue-collar environment, 45 minutes away from home. Ironically, I might lose the job as a result of writing this blog post because it’s now 10.44pm and I have to be up at 6am to get ready. I’m having trouble sleeping because I was chastised by my big boss and his second in charge (I have about five bosses) this morning over what I will refer to only as a trifle. My big boss referred to it as a problem with communication, which is ironic as when I first went to see him after being told to by my fifth-ranked boss, he didn’t know why I was seeing him until I sought his second in charge. Confused? I still kind of am. Communication problems, indeed.
Photo by my brother
Back to the question. I still have no answer for why work is so important yet so difficult to gain. Perhaps all important things are (difficult to gain). I sent somewhere between 100 and 200 job applications while un and under-employed. Too many people told me during that time and since that I should have been more proactive. I should have gotten out there face-to-face with employers, and called them again and again after applying. But why? If I’ve made the effort to register my interest in working for them, most often without them having even advertised a position, then haven’t I made things easy for them? It seemed to me that by simply emailing them my resume and cover letter, from that point on, the ball was in their court. And if I was to hassle them repeatedly for work then, to continue the tennis analogy, all I’d really be achieving was running over to their side of the court and hitting the ball back to myself. A waste of their valuable, and my much less (or so it felt) valuable, time.
I gained my current job through my employment provider, which is a non-government organisation nonetheless employed by the government (Centrelink) to assist people to find work. But I was with them for about two years. Two years of monthly then fortnightly meetings which seemed to achieve little but babysitting of my efforts to look for work. I yearned to ask them: “Why, if there are jobs available, are you not, as an apparent ‘job provider’ at least putting me forward for positions – if not gaining me interviews?” But I never did. I just went through the motions. Negotiating the bureaucracy with long-forgotten purposes that reminded me a lot of working for a large supermarket chain a few years ago. Until all of a sudden a new consultant had an interview for me. Then the interview turned into a job. Then with about the equivalent of a day at high school’s training, I was working my mind-numbing yet twice as lucrative as the dole job. I worked two other casual jobs while under consultation by a job provider – neither of which they assisted me to get in any way.
It angers me that people put down on the unemployed or lowly-employed. I recently went to a social function at which someone I normally respect for his empathy asked me what I’d been up to. I replied: “Working.” He replied: “Not very hard, from what I hear.” He was probably joking, but said nothing else. Hence my general aversion to socialisation. At work itself I’m consciously far down the pecking order. A large bloc of the blue-collar – as opposed to administration and oversight (bosses) bloc – have clear contempt for my position as they often flick me work that comes after theirs is finished with much too little time for me to complete my necessary tasks. I have a girlfriend, now, miraculously. She’s supportive. Her parents, not openly, at least to me, disapprove of my job. What am I to do? My only “career” ambition now is to write a book. In the absence of that accomplishment or even a genuine process of its attainment, I don’t mind what I do for money. But I wish not to be ridiculed, to be excessively maligned, put down or subverted. But I have been. And I fully expect to be again.
And that makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning, not to mention sleep in the first place.