The other day I got a phone call from someone I never heard of before telling me to go to a meeting with some place I've never heard of. Some job seeking help place which was recommended to me by these people I'd never heard of before because I'm having trouble finding a job that doesn't involve vacuuming a floor for 3 hours one afternoon a week, or painting someone's fence for £50. Anyway, I got the address for this place I never heard of, and as I live in the middle of nowhere and the busses are expensive, and my father was home, I got a lift in from my father. Good job too, as this place was out in the middle of nowhere, about 2 miles from the bus routes in some random industrial estate.
Well, it started off badly right away. Rung the door bell and the door was answered by some square headed mouth breather who mumbled something totally incoherently at me, then went back inside. I followed because I assumed was supposed to, then he turned and mumbled something else, then pointed to a row of chairs in the corner. So I sat down at the end of a long room full of 1990s looking computers manned by 3 very big, very spotty men with tiny square heads, all of them breathing through their mouths and staring blankly as the computers.
After about 5 minutes a rather large old woman appeared and in one of the most patronising, pseudo-soft, creepy shrink voices I ever heard said, "Mr John?" I stood up, went to shake her hand over to have her sort of brush her hand over my thumb. I confirmed I am indeed Mr John.
Things got worse when my father, who had come in to sit down, asked how long it would take and if he should stay or not, to which she in her bizarre condescending voice said,
"Well this could take 2 hours or just a few minutes. Is there anywhere you can go?"
"Hm. Is that near by?"
"No it's about 25 miles round trip."
"Oh. Will you be OK to do that?"
"Well... I'd have to be?"
Took a while for her to confirm in her mind that he wasn't an invalid, then she finally started talking to me again and decided that I needed to do an interview to see if I would have to stay here for 2 hours or just go home. So she sat me down next to her desk and turned to me, asking me why I was there. I told her I was there because I'd received a phone call telling me to show up. She looked at me like I'd just said the most confusing thing ever, then asking me who phoned me, "They said they were with you."
"Oh, well I wasn't given any information."
"Well, neither was I."
"Hm. I see."
She then opened up a file which had my last name and no more information, and she knew nothing, not even my first name or who had booked me in to see her. Then she said she needed to ask me for some information. I assumed this would be another straightforward interview like I've done a hundred times, then things got really fucking weird.
She leant right in, then said,
"So, tell me about yourself, John."
Completely unprepared for such a vague question I paused for about 10 seconds to think then said, "What do you want to know?"
"Hm. You see this course is a big commitment on your part and I really need to know about you."
"Well, what do you need to know?"
"Hm... Well this course is a big commitment on your part and I need to know about you and if you are really prepared for us."
"Umm... Well I don't even know who you are, I was just told to come here, I don't know what you do here."
"Well, I don't know about you either... How old are you?"
"Hm. I see, and do you want to tell me about yourself?"
"Okay, well I came here because I was told to come here, and I don't know what you do, so what is this course?"
"Well, it's a big commitment on your part and you need to want to be here, it's your choice."
"That's cool, but what do you do?"
"It's a big commitment on your part which goes on for 6 months and you need to want to be here, we won't force you to be here."
"I don't know what you do, what do you do?"
"A big commitment on your part for 6 months, 3 times a week coming here."
"Well you show up for 4 times a week and do a job search on the computers here, and we will assist you in making applications."
"So it's nothing I can't do at home?"
"I own a computer, and I do job searches, and I'm perfectly able to make my own applications."
"Well nobody can force you to come here, and it's a big 6 month commitment on your part."
"So I come here, 3 times a week, paying £8 a day on bus fare, to do here what I can and do do at home anyway?"
"Well it doesn't seem like there is much point."
"Hm. Okay. I'll give you an information sheet so that 3 or 6 months down the line you can come back ok?"
Then all of the 'thank you' and 'nice to meet you'(lie) and 'byebye' happened and I dismissed myself from the building. In the car park me and my father stopped, looked at each other and just said "What the fuck was that?".
It was the most bizarre fucking thing ever. My father said that as she was 'interviewing' me she kept looking him up and down. And I certainly got the impression that she was judging me with pity.
It was probably one of the most uncomfortable situations I've been in for years. She didn't know who I was, I didn't know who she was, and I was just sat in a room being patronised while she tried to make me prove that I deserve their 'service' of using their computers to access online job searches. It was just wrong on every level. I don't even know who phoned me up to book the appointment, because she had no idea, and I have no idea, and I don't know if there is anyone I can even complain to that I wasted a morning talking to a pointless, condescending old wannabe psychiatrist instead of painting someone's front door for beer money.
The interview went on for about 10 minutes and I couldn't include it all because it would be too long so I sort of condensed it. There was one little part that I couldn't fit into this general overview, but I'll put it here now:
She leaned in super close and said, "Do you want a job?"
I paused for a moment, "I need a job."
"That's not what I asked. Do you want a job?"
"Umm... I suppose I must want a job because I need one."
"Well... That's not what I asked. You need to want a job."
It was the bizarre opening question of "tell me about yourself" on what all of my experience told me was supposed to be a fact gathering interview, which really stood out. I was expecting full name, address, previous work, education, etc etc. But nope, "tell me about yourself" in that creepy patronising tone. I was instantly perplexed, so much so that it took me a few seconds to remember my age when asked.
Just indescribably bizarre.
Listening to: Mumford and Sons
Eating: Mushroom soup