It is a very hot day and the woman who is leading the session for us long term, dole scum is fixated with the air conditioner. She is a large red-faced, golden haired, small -eyed woman in her mid 20’s who keeps informing us, for no particular reason ,that she was in the Girl Guides. She is breath takingly patronising and embodies the word ‘bustle’.
When later we learn she rows and mentors a group of army cadets a slow sad nod goes around the aged end of the table. By this time we are too beaten down to attempt eye contact.
We are doing penance for being on welfare. We are in a ‘Building Confidence for Job Interviews’ seminar.
Opposite me is gentle, white haired bespectacled man who mentions he is totally immersed in his community through his church. He has such a terrible palsy he cannot hold a pen which is how, I presume, he has found himself jobless for over 6 months.
‘Don’t you worry B, says golden ,Red-Face. ‘We’ll get you back in the game’. She actually pats him.
B looks anxious. I think he may be praying under his breath.
Ivor is on his second heart and again in his late 50’s early 60’s. When he arrives he takes 60 minutes to stop wheezing and get enough air in his lungs. In the break he heads out for a fag. He was a master printer. Now everything is digital and he’s not working.
‘We’ll find a way of transferring your skills.’ Red Face winks at him.
Ivor folds his arms over his new heart and scows.
There is a tiny exquisite anorexic who looks like Bambi made out of glass and china, a 21 year old woman with a brain injury, another with an anxiety disorder.
We start by ticking boxes on a personal skills sheet. I glance up at Red Face and realise I am ticking too many. I slow down. I don’t tick ‘happy’.
Group discussion begins. What did we want to be when we were young? (Zoologist.)
What would we do if we could do anything? (Bond villain)
We are asked about interview experiences.
I used to have these conversations when I was a teenager. It is all pleasant and fun and I learn a great deal about all the other people but I learn absolutely nothing about attending interviews apart from the fact preparation is important.
Some things you can’t prepare for. I attended a huge interview recently. At the interview two of the panel had cerebral palsy. The interview was being held in a huge room and with my vision the panel so far away were a little blurry. During my presentation the palsy people would occasionally jerk and twitch and I would stop politely thinking they had signalled me to ask a question.
They hadn’t. Confused I would start again.
Until the next twitch or jerk.
This carried on for some time.
It was a long interview.
I didn’t get the job but it was very funny.
At the end of the seminar Red Face whips out the evaluation forms and ‘helps’ the group fill them in.
What have you learn from this? I write ‘patience’ but Red Face comes over so I cross it out and write ‘always be prepared’. Her smile is dazzling.