ROUND THREE: GUARDIAN ANGEL
If you’ve been kind enough or bored enough to join me for Round One and Round Two you’ll be as delighted as I was that a Guardian Angel winged her way into my life to give me a pep talk, wash my wounds and hand me my mouthguard ready for Round Three. And she wasn’t just one of those run of the mill regular Guardian Angels (ten a penny). This one was employed by the Department for Work & Pensions and had her own telephone at Decision HQ. Fate intervened and passed me directly through to her diamond-studded enchanted headset the next time I called to cry.
My Guardian Angel didn’t have clearance to make decisions herself, but after hearing my story; how I’d been made redundant, at short notice, at Christmas, then wrongly informed I didn’t qualify for any financial help whilst I looked for work, finding out a month later that I did qualify (for Job Seekers Allowance) and could backdate my claim, then being shoved from pillar to post over a form that I absolutely did have to/absolutely didn’t have to fill in, to finally submitting the contentious form, only for it to be lost……. my new twinkly silver-winged friend made it her personal mission to SORT THIS SHIT OUT.
In the meantime I had indeed found a job (Round Two – Oh What Fresh Hell Is This). Such a relief that I could finally extract myself from the madness of the Job Centre, such an odd place; Vague, Toilet-less, Patronising, Inconsistent, Quite Stained, Brusque and Full of Liars (I refer to both staff and users). Alas, the Job Centre wouldn’t let me go.
As I wouldn’t be earning much money, I still had to sign on. ‘Oh, so they were able to continue supporting you whilst you got back on your feet?’. No.
A subsequent visit spelt out, well, I wasn’t really sure what was being spelt out. It was all so vague. I wasn’t earning much, but enough to negate my Job Seeker Allowance. Of course that was fair. But could they have made Why I Still Needed To Sign On any more confusing and unhelpfully explained? Answer; No, they could not!
My National Insurance Contributions had entered a grey area, a dark uninhabitable place on the fringes of society. So that my NI contributions could stay out and play in the sunshine, keep turning up they said, at a time of our choosing they said (even though I had no control over what shifts I worked) and sign the Magic Autograph Machine. Which didn’t always possess the Magic it had been invented with.
Now here’s the rub; my next visit (gotten quite use to each visit being a contradiction to the last) I’m told I could sign off. If I wanted. Or stay. Or go. Or stay. Or go.
‘Well, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. Please help me make a decsion for the best, oh wise and informed employee of this establishment?’
‘Oh, it’s up to you’.
‘It’s up to me? How? What? Why? What are the consequences of either choice? Could you possibly use your capacity as an Advisor to……. err……. ADVISE?’
‘Deary, we can’t make your decision for you’.
‘But I don’t understand what decsion I’m making. Or why. Or what the consequence of either choice would be!’ (See above).
So, as I said, vague, contradictory, confusing and unhelpful. Please don’t feel bad for not understanding any of that. Or for skimming it.
So I signed off. Brazen against the consequences, whatever they may be.
And as I strutted towards the exit, chin of dignity guiding my way, bright red-face lighting my way, I found myself feeling hurt, dejected, REjected, angry and let down. So utterly let down. The non-advisory Advisor rubber-stamped that feeling with her parting shot;
‘And Deary, in all the years I’ve worked here I’ve never known ANYONE be granted a backdated claim’.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT DECISION HQ…….
‘Hi it’s your Guardian Angel here. I’m just ringing to see how you are today? My feathers have been a flutter with indignity on your behalf and I really wish you’d consider making a formal complaint about how you’ve been treated, mistreated, lied to, ill-advised, and otherwise not engaged with as a human being just asking for a little help in your hour of need’.
This was a daily conversation. This lady phoned me every day, just to see how I was. Tearful was often the answer, but her celestial voice and heavenly manner soothed my fragile nerves and she reassured me she was kicking up a stink in all relevant departments, in a very angelic way of course. She chased and harrassed and resorted to a few ungodly words until I received a phone call. From the ALL POWERFUL DECISION MAKER.
It seemed mistakes had indeed been made. No Shit Sherlock.
We’d robbed Peter to pay Paul. But Paul needed his money too now, so please tell me my claim has been granted.
Yes. Yes it has. And we’re a bit sorry.
My Guardian Angel rang to congratulate me on a battle well fought. And I congratulated her on her kickass angel skillz. But then it all went pants again and they only paid me half of what they owed. Angel was already on the case. By the end of March last year I finally lay down my gloves, my battle with the Job Centre and Department for Work & Pensions finally over. Battered, bruised and bearing some scars, I looked forward to a brighter day.
By this time I was seven weeks into my new job. Somewhere in the middle we had exchanged contracts on a house, our very own home. We’d signed on the dotted line only two days before my redundancy was announced. We’d soldiered on, having put every inch of ourselves and savings into it, braced for the worst but hoping for the best. And we’d managed to keep my being unemployed a secret long enough not to risk being evicted from our rented property.
But a new battle front was brewing and I barely had time to catch my breath before the Dogs of War were unleashed…….
If you are employed or otherwise content and stable with your work/life/domestic situation, please pop over to Wanted. Not Wanted. where you can have a smug, self-righteous, cosy giggle at my crumbling self-esteem. You’ll find my self-initiated Job Club, my ridiculous misguided applications for ANY kind of work and my redundancy diary, a revealing look into the day to day life of
the lowlife worthless pits of humanity the unemployed. If you are not content and stable with your work/life/domestic situation, then let’s hold hands and stick our tongues out at the rest of the world. But you still have to go read all the stuff.