I need to create an online identity. Prospective employers don’t trust people who haven’t an online presence or so I’m told. Apparently nobody’s told prospective employers about the risks of the computers one day rising up and killing us all. I’ll be sure and mention it in the job interview. Step one is deciding the version of me I want to put across. I didn’t realise I could create a version of me. The real me up to now has been such a disappointment that I’m rather looking forward to meeting the cleaned up virtual version. I wonder if she’ll be taller or will be less exhausted. I’m certain this version doesn’t have to worry about getting her car started in the mornings or whether her brain is still functioning in a somewhat useful capacity.
As it turns out constructing a virtual identity is as stressful as going through the witness protection programme. Only there’s no helpful case worker to fill out the forms for you. No you’re on your own for this one kid. First there’s the stress of your new name do you want everyone to know it’s you or do you want to be like a ghost writer hidden in the wind. As it happens my original choice had already been taken as had all 199 versions of it so instead I shortened my own name! Okay not a great start but I remained confident. After all this isn’t me this is ‘virtual’ me. The she that cannot be conquered. Next came the choosing of the template, a layout and design that best represent what you want your blog to say. I wanted mine to say I live a kooky, quirky passion filled life and am successful in all my personal and professional endeavours. But all those templates cost money so instead I went for a purple one that looked like it wouldn’t be too taxing to manoeuvre around.
By this stage I was quite exhausted. Being an ideal version of yourself is hard and despite my best efforts the naturally lazy version seemed to be seeping in. I know I’ll focus on the content I’ll write something life affirming and upbeat. ‘If I build it they will come’. So I wrote and I wrote, version upon version, paragraph upon paragraph but everything just seemed so………so……. Me. After my tenth version of trying to introduce my ideal self, I decided to save it and comeback later once I’d treated myself to a whole lot of chocolate. However instead of saving to draft, I accidentally published my nonsensical ramblings on the web. I had revealed myself to the world wide web. Don’t look at me internet I’m a MONSTER! I spent the next twenty minutes scrambling around trying to undo what I’d done and delete the ugly virtual version of myself. I finally finished up, with a headache, an identity crisis and a hope that maybe tomorrows version will be computer literate.
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.
This is a reference I received from a shop I worked in that was closing down (through no fault of my own may I add. I made many a helpful suggestion such as turning the heat on in Winter and not gluing the jewellery back together when its returned. None of which were taken on board). My flexi-part time hours involved working 5 days a week and regularly pretending to be the manager because I was the only employee in the shop. And a good job I did too, many a child went screaming back to their mum because of the scary lady behind the counter. Anyway, I’ve always thought of this reference as less of an endorsement of my character and more of a confirmation of my existence on this earth.
Yes XXXXXXX appeared to exist while in my presence in the universe of the shop however what happened when she was no longer in my sphere of vision I cannot can confirm.
So existentially speaking I felt a whole lot better. Financially speaking I did not!
First things first, I thought I’d better cancel my leap card automatic top-up. Who the hell can afford that anymore? It’s amazing how quickly you can switch back to unemployment mode. It may have been a year and half but my dole instincts kicked right back in. Appointment with social welfare, Sort out P45, register with Fas, return all recent purchases to Penny’s. As I sat on the bus wallowing, I started going through my job options in my head. Let’s see, I was thinking about becoming a world famous cake decorator at one point when I was going through my ‘Great British Bake-off’ Stage but then I realised that involved a lot of washing up which I wasn’t a fan of plus I had no discernible talent what so ever in baking or cake decorating. At another stage I had thought about making jewellery and setting up my own international jewellery range if only I hadn’t given away my jewellery making kit to the charity shop. At the time I thought perhaps there was a homeless person in need of creativity in their life. God damn my generous soul!
I began to start listing the new skills that I had developed in my recent job. Mainly so I could exaggerate and lie about it on my next CV but also because I thought it might give me a little lift. So what do I now know that I didn’t a year and a half ago? Well I now know that sales men can have a whole host of problems including but not limited to drug and alcohol, OCD, gambling, compulsive lying and serious anger issues but as long as they keep bringing in their commission they can do no wrong.
I know how to get a franking machine with poor internet connection working again through a sophisticated method of turning it on and off several times while jiggling the wires about. But most of all I’ve learnt that you need to leave work at ten to one in order to avoid lunch time queues and/or getting fired . That was a lesson I learnt the hard way. I may need to rephrase these for the CV. Salesmen will become flexible when communicating to all departments, franking machine will be multi-tasker with strong knowledge of technical equipment and lunchtime will become goal orientated.
I had nearly made it out of the building when I bumped into one of the sales guys. At first he walked past and I thought I’d be able to leave with a teeny tiny bit of dignity. But it was not to be as he turned and asked
‘Are you okay?’.
Apparently the red eyes and chocolate smeared across my face was a giveaway.
‘NOOoooooo’ I wailed ‘I’m no longer Miss Manager’.
He seemed confused ‘I don’t understand……………..you were a manager’
‘A production manager’
‘I thought Peter was the production manager’
‘He left two months ago, didn’t you notice me handling all this extra responsibility around the office’
‘Is that why you kept giving us miniature post-its with comments on them.’
‘Yes I was trying to be organised’
‘So did Peter have a farewell do?’
‘Yes and it was a lot of fun’ I sobbed ‘We went to that new restaurant on Dawson Street’.
‘Ahh I really want to go there’
‘You should’ I bawled ‘Its LOOOVEEELY’
‘Don’t worry you’ll find something else in no time’
Why did everybody keep saying that to me, I started with them on a JobsBridge scheme does that seem like somebody who can walk into jobs effortlessly or somebody with absolutely any other options in life. I don’t know what impressed me the most that my production manager facade had fooled everyone into thinking I was a capable human being or that apparently nobody had bothered to look at my CV before they hired me. Either way I had decided this was a ‘bad day’ and that I would need a sugar fix soon as my emergency chocolate was wearing off. As I walked out the door for the last time I could hear the sales guy asking ‘Do you smell mint?’
It was all to change at 10 past 1 on a Friday afternoon. I mean the first strange thing was that I was still working at 10 past one. I’m a firm believer in following Beyoncé’s diet of eating every two hours. Over the years I’ve learnt to not take any chances so I’ve made it every hour and here I was ten minutes late. At the time I thought I guess that’s the sacrifices you make when you’re Miss Manager. Just as I was about to head out for a king size Burger king meal my phone rang. It was ‘the second in command’ asking me if I had a minute. Had I any inkling as to what was about to happen, I would have pretended to be the intern. ‘Of course’ I said thinking he probably had some urgent business that only Miss Manager could solve. ‘OOhh it’s like a proper meeting’ I said as I went in and discovered both bosses were there.
‘I’m afraid it’s not good news, we’re going to have to let you go’.
My face didn’t so much drop as froze in a stiff smile.
My boss just kept saying ‘you’re not the only one to go’ which goes to show how little the man knew me and how self-absorbed I am. He then tried the lines of comfort.
‘It’s not you, you’re terrific, we just can’t afford to keep so many staff’. It was around this point that the tears began to come.
‘I mean you deserve to be on so much more money than we can pay you’
‘I know’ I sobbed and then in a high pitched shrill ‘BUT NOBODY… SEEMS…. TO…. BELIEVE… MEEEEE’.
‘You’ll find something in no time’ clearly the man was delusional. Had he no idea how long it had taken me to find this job and this was a terrible job. Within minutes I was basically being asked to vacate the building, had he still got the staff I probably would have been escorted off the premises, thank god scary 6 foot 5 was on lunch. So I gathered my mint teabags, emergency chocolate supply, hideous cardigan I only wear around the freezing office and the mini post-its and highlighters I had treated myself to when I got promoted. It was only then I realised I had nothing to carry them in. Apparently it’s only in America that they supply you with those convenient brown cardboard boxes that lets everybody know you’ve just lost your job and deserve sympathy. I was fearful that my co-worker would be back soon and that the tears wouldn’t be far behind again. So I put on the hideous cardigan, scoffed as much emergency chocolate as I could fit into my mouth, emptied the mint tea into my coat pockets and jammed the highlighters into my tiny but stylish handbag. While the post-it’s were as promised miniature and convenient for all occasions.
To be continued……..
So there I was feeling pretty confident in my new role as production manager or as I liked to call myself Miss Manager. I mean sure I may have only got the promotion because two people left out of an office of four and my boss didn’t want to have to fork out for a new front door key but still I was Miss Manager, it would only be onwards and upwards from here on in. So confident was I that I started buying razor cartridges instead of disposables and EVEN signed up for automatic leap card top-up. Yes I was becoming a woman with plans. Two months in the role and I felt I was finally making headway. The scary 6 foot 5 salesman no longer made me want to cry in the cupboard and I finally had a desk at the window to stare out of when I was bored. Jobs don’t get much better than that in post-recession Ireland. I should have known when my 13 year old car passed its NCT that week that something was out of whack in the universe. After all god doesn’t give with one hand without sucker punching you in the gut with the other.
to be continued………