I was summoned to the ‘Fake Fas’ office the other day. They’d moved to a new building which seems to be causing much confusion amongst the people of North Dublin. As the whole way there I’m met by a series of buildings with signs outside saying they are ‘not’ the new employment office. Eventually I spot a couple of men with pads and pens and figured I was heading in the right direction plus I realised I really should have brought a pad and a pen. I’m beginning to think my damn tiny handbag is holding me back. This is the second time it’s left me ill- prepared. As I enter the new office, a case worker is outside giving a prep talk to a teenager. I wonder why I’ve never been given a prep talk. I respond quite well to that kind of ‘softly, softly, catchy monkey approach’. It’s why I stayed so long in band practice even though I never got to play an instrument. I spent a year practicing blowing into a bottle for the flute that never came.
Inside I spot a lot of people filling out clip boards which turn out to be updating our employment history. At this stage mine resembles a mind map and a haunting reminder of employment past. Soon we are led into a small room. Inside I can’t help but think of the x-factor audition stage where there are two rooms and one gets all excited and screams because they’ve made it through and the other room is sad and depressing because they’ve been told they’re the losers and have to go home now. This is like the latter except there was no anticipation beforehand or ‘lifelong’ friends made. There are however awkward shuffling and careful consideration to not sit beside anybody.
On each chair lies a hand-out and it soon becomes apparent that the hand-outs are print outs of the power-point the woman is going to read off word for word for the next twenty-two minutes. I know its twenty-two minutes because a man kindly announces this to us at the beginning or as he puts it ‘around twenty-two minutes’. Which leads me to believe he’s off for around a twenty-two minute coffee break? The woman giving the talk clearly lost the coin toss and does not look happy about it. At the end of reading the powerpoint/hand-outs verbatim, she announces ‘well if nobody has any questions, I’ll see you at your meetings’. Nobody dares raise their hand; we’ve all been in the game long enough to know a rhetorical question when we hear it. Besides none of us want to get onto her radar, there’s only so many times one can get out of bed before 11 before being unemployed resembles working.