I forgot to sign on a couple of weeks back. Neither more, nor less. I just forgot. By the time I’d remembered that I’d forgotten, it was two days later, and the next day I went to the Jobcentre to ‘fess up. My biggest concern was whether this degree of memory loss was some sort of ghastly precursor to incipient Alzheimer’s, but for some reason this was not shared by my advisor. (Advisor – why do they call them that? I’ve never had any advice about anything, but let that pass.) No, the advisor took me royally to task.
I remonstrated that this was a very unusual occurrence, and that I’d try extra hard in future, but this was clearly insufficient.
“Why did you forget?”
“Er, I just did.”
“But that’s not really good enough!”
“Well, I’m very sorry, but what would you have me do? Make up a reason? I just forgot.”
When you’ve been a naughty boy in this way, you have to fill in an excuse form, a bit like the ones you forged from your mother when you forgot your PE kit. The advisor said that just writing, “I forgot” would not wash. I had to have a reason for forgetting, and I could tell that offering early stage Alzheimer’s as an explanation was not going to go down well.
So I decided to write the real, unvarnished truth. There was a reason behind my forgetfulness, and it was as brazen as it was simple. I am entitled only to what’s called “contribution-based benefit” and this lasts for only six months, after which you get nothing. My six months had elapsed, well, six months ago, and since then I’d had the indignity of the signing-on process for no benefit whatsoever, either metaphorical or literal. Thus the incentive to see the ritual of showing up at the Jobcentre every two weeks as of any importance is small indeed. There are in fact many more important things that I need to attend to, not the least among them the filling-in of yet more applications and supporting statements.
When she read my excuse, the advisor shook her head and muttered darkly about some shadowy other figure to whom she had to show my form. This person would not take kindly to my impudence, and might stop my benefit. What? I’m scared, really scared.