The day has arrived. That is the day I am no longer unemployed, until January at least. This morning I officially signed off my Job Seeker’s Allowance and it felt good. For one, I’ll no longer have to deal with questioning by advisors about progress with my job search, or have to regularly complete any more forms that essentially asks me to just tick the box which says “I done some browsing. I tried to find job”.
There is no doubt I’m a little nervous. Tomorrow evening I start a twelve hour shift at a food packing factory, from which I’ll get back home at around nine the following morning and it will be a completely new environment to me. There is also no hiding the fact that it’s a position at the very bottom of the pecking order, and some may even think that’s way under the level of my abilities, but with low confidence it is possibly the best way to get going again after some years in education and more than a year thereafter spent mostly at my house, biting the nails of worry and reluctance. I was never actually reluctant to work for a living though, more so when it came to really pushing myself, or even wanting to leave the house at all some days. At least this winter I won’t be literally hibernating, which wasn’t far off what I was like ten to twelve months ago in the freezing cold.
The job itself was sprung onto me and others applying for the same role. What happened was we were told different things by different advisors at Avanta to do with how long the shifts would be and when they will take place, and as it happens the woman conducting the induction, interviews and training doesn’t seem to quite know what’s what, either. At first we were told the shifts start on Thursday and it would be four days on, four days off, and then back for another four days. Then it was made clear that it would actually be running over ten days only, with a single day off in the middle, and it was actually starting on Friday.
But never mind all that, I have been aware since the get-go that this isn’t a reliable, secure job which I can be sure of keeping hold of or progressing in. I just knew I had to get some work under my belt and some paper money instead of shrapnel (coins) into my wallet. Also it’s no secret that the long term unemployed have more trouble finding a decent job, and I even feel grateful for the opportunity of this ‘crappy’ job. Although it was quite obvious to me that I was being pushed into doing it, however stubborn I am I just couldn’t say no.
It is going to be hard when you think about a twelve hour shift, and it will mean that I’ll be trying to get some sleep around the lunch hours, but fortunately it’s not for long. As I say it is only a ten day venture with these shifts, but then I move onto a similar job in a different location with less horrendous work hours. The shifts then will be either from 7am – 3pm or 3pm – 11pm shifts, and I imagine will be rotated. All that goes on until January, leaving me possibly back in the same position I have been enduring but the biggest point is that it will look like I’m trying to work, can work and can deal with a variety of environments.
A big worry is that towards the end of a shift my brain might fail, making me doing something stupid or careless with machinery or equipment. Not to worry, though, as my very own saying goes “Don’t drink the bleach”, which simply states “Don’t be stupid” when it comes to health and safety procedures and generally just using one’s common sense. I’d like to think I have an abundance of common sense, perhaps diminishing any other senses, so I shouldn’t have any problems. I’ll just have to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.
Finally, I can say I both look forward to and dread the sorts of characters I will encounter over the coming couple of months. It would be totally ignorant to believe that everyone doing basic work in warehouses and factories will be boring or even dumb, so instead I envisage some sort of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ scenario with some odd and brilliant characters working there. The reality probably won’t be so interesting, but if I am able to meet two or three pleasant people with a sense of humour then I shall be just fine. In fact, they’ll be lucky to have me around. During the shifts themselves, until legs get weary, eyes become droopy and the brain starts to falter, I’ll try to be the one that brings a smile to their faces, or relentlessly annoy them but then either way I’ve won.
A big thank you to all of you who have followed me over the past year or so on Maria’s wonderfully successful website. Some weeks my writing has been one of the only things to keep me going, and your comments have been appreciated. It’s not all over yet, though. I plan to continue writing articles on the life around work and other areas. And remember, I’ll probably be unemployed again in the New Year so I’ll have plenty to moan about again, only this time I hope it’s very brief. No one needs to live with the stress of being jobless. So good luck to all, and good luck to me!