Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Get a REAL job? Excuse me?

Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, I am proud to invite you to the world's best showing of complete and utter MESS.  Tonight I present to you a thing of such pathetic and poor construction that it must be concluded that amoebas have better design, higher purpose and more dignity.  Allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to present to you.... drumroll....


I know, I know.  It was in my last post that I made a decision to avoid people til I had calmed down and found some peace with myself and my fellow man.  However, I utterly failed.  I was not able to bring myself to publish this post til just recently, but you will not believe the disastrous timing I have.  One day I vow to calm down and avoid conversations about my state of unemployment, and then, on the very next day, this happens.

I went out to buy food.  A seemingly harmless pursuit, wouldn't you say?


I did not know it at the time but this very act of leaving my house for food caused me to fail in my resolution and left me not only speechless but also horrifically angry and depressed a mere handful of hours after the commencement of my noble and clever plan.

The journey to the shop started well, as with most things that go unaccountably and terribly sour.  It was a pleasant enough day and I began with a stroll to the post office.  Along the way I met a pleasant man and we shared a short conversation, near a particular (one might even say renowned) stretch of pavement, about how concerned and terribly saddened we were by the 2pm appearance of rowdy inebriates. We shook our heads, exchanged pleasantries, and wished each other a good day when we parted a few minutes later.  All in all a good journey so far.

The post office was found precisely as expected.  The queues were orderly, the stamps cheap, and the post satisfactorily sent on its way.  This letter was only a few days late in being sent because I am not always prompt at replying to letters and even less so at actually posting them.  That matter concluded, I admired some of the decaying grandeur of another age, mentally taking pictures of the pleasing architecture, even if it was covered over in peeling paint, and I made my unhurried way to the store in order to procure essentials.  Shampoo and laundry soap made it into my basket along with a few various chocolate consumables and the few "good-for-you" foods that completed my shop.

I was feeling productive and happy.  So far everything had gone as I had hoped.  Everything was uneventful.  I made the long walk home and was pleased that my troublesome elbow was not causing me too much pain on this day.  It was not long before I arrived at my corner of London.  I made it inside my building and then, I noticed the people.  The people waiting for the lift.   

Which people, you might wonder?  Well I hardly knew that I would be so violently opposed to them in a few minutes, but here they were.  A couple, slightly older, and a solitary gentleman, they waited with me silently at the door to the lift.  The couple had also been shopping and when the lift door opened we had a bit of bother fitting all four of us and our shopping bags into the lift comfortably.  It is a narrow lift and it is usually best for me to be at the back as I live on the highest floor, as did they apparently.  The solitary gentleman said nothing and exited on the second floor causing a bit of reshuffling and a comment from the older gentleman that it was a bit like Piccadilly Circus in our lift with all the bumping into people, coming and going, and never seeing the same person twice in the building.  I laughed politely and he decided to continue this conversation.

Glancing at his watch the older gentleman noted the time, then glancing at me and noting my age and shopping bags he ventured this comment "It's a bit early for you to be off work, isn't it?"

My mistake was in acknowledging this question and answering it politely "Yes, well I'm unemployed at the moment, unfortunately."

Had I learned nothing?  Did I not listen to my own rant and impassioned decision to avoid this situation and this conversation?  No, apparently I did not. (In my defense I did expect them to leave the lift any second and leave me in peace).

He replied "And what would you like to do?"

My second mistake was to answer again.  You see I have been raised to treat my elders with respect, which includes, in my book, being polite, truthful, and not refusing to engage in seemingly polite conversation. So I said this "Well, I would like to work in museums".

The grey haired man's tone changed at this and he practically sneered "What as a museum cleaner?"

I politely replied "No, more curatorial work"

At this point the older man turned towards the lift door as we were nearing the 19th floor where we both lived apparently and muttered something about people these days wanting all these fancy jobs.

The lift door opened and with excellent dramatic timing he wheeled his shopping trolley out of the lift and shouted, without even looking at me "Get a REAL job!" as he stomped towards his door.

Then the woman with him jostled past me, hitting me with her shopping as she said "This is the 19th floor" as if I would have forgotten when I also live there, making no apology for the rude comment just shouted at me, and left.

Speechless I exited the lift and stared at their backs as they entered their flat to the right of the lift while I fiddled with the keys to my flat located just to the left of the lift.

I entered my flat feeling horrible and angry.  He asked me what I wanted to do and then told me it wasn't a real job.  Not a real job?  Every curator across the world, who has studied for years, and then works for years, to preserve the history of the world for you to see would be truly thrilled to learn you do not view their jobs as real, I am sure.

He may have been excused for saying I should try to get a more entry-level position or a more basic job if I had waxed eloquent on the difficulties of finding museum work and whinged about this being the sole reason for my unemployment.  He certainly cannot be excused for such a comment when he asked me what I wanted to do.  A personal question about my preference or desire, my dreams and career aspirations should not be met with such judgement.  What right does he have to ask?  I should have told him it was none of his business in the first place.

How dare he ask me what I want to do and then assume I'm not trying to apply for anything else.  He asked what I wanted to do.  I told him.  He shouted at me.  I cannot imagine a scenario in which this is acceptable.

And what in his mind qualifies as a REAL job?  People who get paid are engaged in real jobs.  I could say that I want to be a professional cloud watcher and he could scoff that I should get a real job.  Nobody I know of gets paid to lie on a hill and watch clouds.  But that's not what he meant.

He clearly didn't think highly of cleaners with his little sneer.  And cleaning is a productive and taxing job, certainly real, and it contributes to society.  So, what does count?  Is it that no education is required for a cleaner that makes it a job to sneer at?  I'll have you know that to be a heavy objects handler in a museum, a manual job, you must have certificates in the use of forklifts.  I have two degrees and I am not qualified to do their job.  However, if education is the requirement, curators typically come with quite a bit of education.

Perhaps the real problem in his mind is the so called "fancy" nature of it.  I'm guessing he thinks I should get a job in retail because museums are too "fancy".  Or maybe he thinks that something in business is better.  However, it is typical for business jobs to require education too.

I think what he really means is that my goals are too lofty and I should settle for a more basic entry-level position and job.  But he has no idea what I've been applying to.  How dare he judge me that way based on an innocent answer to a question about my preferences.  And if I apply everywhere else what is wrong with admitting that I would prefer to work in museums?  Excuse me for having aspirations and dreams.  Pardon me for wishing to put my fancy education to a good use in a fancy job.  

I had to stand in the lift and the hallway with a man who thought it appropriate to pry into my life and then judge me without any knowledge of the particulars of my circumstance.

He might be pleased to know that I have accepted a retail position where I work full time babysitting books and customers you do not seem to understand alphabetical order.  I wonder if he thinks that working myself to the bone lifting, moving, organizing and selling books is a real job.  The reality is that I get paid and it is a real job, whatever he may choose to say on the subject.  And the truth is that I don't care.  Now that I'm not emotionally vulnerable, i.e. unemployed, I really don't care what he thinks.  Or what anyone else thinks.  It may not be my dream but it does pay for my chocolate habit.

And as for all those people who have anything to say about it.  I give you Roy from the IT Crowd...

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