So the unemployed don’t piss?

I’m having another, and final, go at Jobcentre Plus-Fuck-All this week. It felt about time, it being a good 4 or 5 weeks since I last had a pop, other than the sheer incredulity of last week’s bonus post. (As an update on that, they have continued to insist that I visit them for one final and nostalgic instalment of their job-seeking wisdom which I’m due to receive tomorrow morning, and frankly the excitement is killing me.) Let me be clear. I realise that I’m pursuing a symptom and not a cause. That Jobcentres do not create the mess or the despair that they are charged with trying to mop up and deal with. I recognise that for Jobcentre staff it must be a thankless and depressing task, and probably the last thing they need is to read the bitter outpourings of an unemployed blogger.

Well, I’m sorry about that, but outpour bitterly is just what I’m going to do. There is a real problem in my view about disentangling cause and effect. Jobcentre managers will doubtless be saying that the things I’m about to rant on about are the effects emanating from causes which have their roots in the bad and angry behaviour of their “customers”. Thus the fact that there are, quite literally, several hundred CCTV cameras across the four floors of my Jobcentre is doubtless to protect Jobcentre staff from physical attack, and equally doubtless there was a history of physical attack before the cameras were installed. I wonder.

What I do know is that being so comprehensively spied upon is enough to make even me want to do something worth watching like, I don’t know, perhaps pissing in the stairwell. I alight on that possibility less randomly than you might think, because on every floor there is a toilet marked clearly, “For staff use only”, and firmly locked. I have no idea what an incontinent benefit claimant is supposed to do, and I daresay that on application someone will allow you into the pissoir of your choice. That’s not the point. The sheer aggressive unwelcomeness of the Jobcentre is as much stimulus to anger as it might be protection from the anger thus provoked.

This “architectural” aggression seems to legitimate the bureaucratic aggression which as often as not spills out from Jobcentre staff, and even more so, from the army of security guards that glower at all and sundry. I’m a peaceable fellow at heart, and unlikely to administer more than a withering look or a sarcastic riposte. But the Jobcentre can stir wild and violent urges even in me.

4 thoughts on “So the unemployed don’t piss?

  1. Ah yes, the incipient incontinence of the unemployed claimants! Perhaps in denying these ‘customers’ the ease they seek/need, there is a punishment factor in all of this – ie – ‘You’re out of work and claiming benefits, therefore you don’t expect *luxury* do you?’ It doesn’t matter whether the fact that you’re unemployed is more often than not down to factors outwith the claimant’s (sorry, ‘customer’s) control. The Great Unwashed Unemployed are a scourge …..

    ooh a bijou rant-ette of my own there! ;)

  2. The incontinent benefit claimant has to go to ASDA (not a good day) also more chance of finding a job there than in junkiecentre+. You have to give them credit though, it must take alot of practice & training to create an environment so appalling that it is easier to have a job than to visit a job centre for 1 hour every two weeks. I made a grave error in printing out more than their allocated 3 jobs per customer last week. I have the solution though! Instead of the job points which are out of paper, don’t properly advertise the jobs unless you’re a door to door salesman. Why not have a kind of cards on the wall system, job gets filled card comes down. New job new card.

    Good luck on the job search

  3. I have experience of two Job Centres, admittedly both a long time ago. One, that served a large town and surrounding villages in a posh bit of Hampshire, had carpet on the floor, free machines serving something that pretended to be coffee, desks for you and your adviser to share a friendly chat at, the printers always had paper and there were several daily national and local papers delivered. I can’t remember about toilets, sorry.

    The second, not so much. In an “up and coming,” “regenerating” area of London, it had wipe-clean vinyl floors, the advisers all sat behind chair-proof glass, not that it mattered because all the chairs were bolted to the floor, the computers never had paper, no matter what time you arrived, and as for free drinks and newspapers? Har har har.

    I think it’s partly that people behave at the level that you aim them at – if you treat them like civilised grown-ups, they behave like that. If you treat them like sub-human animals, they throw chairs at your head.

    Also, I suspect that perception has a part to play – “we’re in a nice area, therefore we will mostly be dealing with nice people, so we will treat them nicely.” Or “we’re in a deprived, run-down area, all our clients will be thugs, quick, bolt the chairs to the floor.” Whether it’s treatment or behaviour that came first, I have no idea.

    Sorry, first comment, and it’s hugely long!

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