26 April 2012

The Luck of the Draw

I don't know whether I was green with envy or just plain sick but the number of high end designer coats I handled yesterday was insane. It was Dolce & Gabanna after Prada after Burberry, and so much fur; god knows how many dead animals I hung on a coat hanger. What did I expect when I was the coat check girl for a very very expensive jewellery shop on New Bond Street? When I say expensive, I mean some of those jewels would have bought several houses.

While a few of the clientèle were almost ridiculous - botoxed faces that looked like masks and 40 year old bodies pushed into see-through black dresses - the owner of the shop was actually quite normal. Once they had discovered I was more than just a waitress (actually we are all always, more than just waitresses) they told me about how their son had just graduated from Manchester (ha...Nottingham is better!) and was going to be in the same situation as me soon.

Well, this got me thinking... is he actually going to have to face the same obstacles as me? His parents own a spectacular diamond shop and they know countless extremely wealthy and connected people. A reader of this humble little blog recently stressed to me how much luck comes into the equation. They wrote

'Even the work ethic required to complete a law or medical degree is established by a certain amount of luck. Lucky to have nurturing parents, lucky to have wealth (for most), lucky to have the correct set of genes to use a certain side of the brain, lucky to be taught from an early age how to manage time. With 7 billion people on earth, there's more pressure than ever to be perfect' 

Well it seems that my luck has dried up, or at least it's in drought. I was lucky enough to have parents who gave me decent enough genes to do well at my education, pushed me to take on lots of extra curricular activities and who taught me how to communicate well. Certainly there are people born into far unluckier circumstances than myself.

I'm not the kind of person however, who wishes to leave it all up to luck. While several factors are playing in my favour in the 'rat race' I also believe that most of my good fortune has come about through sheer hard work. The luckiest person in the world wouldn't get the job of their dreams without at least trying.

Well here's a test for you life... I recently had a very exciting interview at Bloomsbury publishing for my ideal role in their academic division. It went really well - the interviewer seemed to like me, I answered the questions naturally and comprehensively. I left feeling good about it but I was only the second interviewee and they had several other candidates to see after me. I'll know if I got the job by tomorrow.  Come on luck, open the flood barriers again and pour your glorious water all over me because this drought is starting to slowly suck the life out of me.

15 April 2012

Selling My Soul

Hold the press! The kindly people from the JobCentre have revoked their decision to offer me absolutely no money at all while I search diligently for a job and have instead decided to award me the incomprehensible sum of 88p per week.

While it is awfully kind of them to reconsider my economic position in society all the way from their offices in Scotland, this now means that I have to provide proof of my job searching activities and go to the JobCentre every other week to sign on in order to claim my 88p. I'm going to say it again out of sheer disbelief.... 88p.

Please, please keep your money and preferably shove it somewhere unmentionable. Or at least give it to a more useful, less time-wasting cause. This is absolute bureaucracy gone mad and I refuse to participate in it. All it means is that I am now the government's female dog and must adhere to their ridiculous laws in order to get my bone... and a measly old bone it is too.

I have just got back from Berlin, a city that was not so long ago divided by a wall and whose inhabitants (at least in the East) were often forced into conspiring with the secret police in order to get their daily bread. Have I essentially just sold my right to live a free and private life for the price of a loaf of bread? I don't want to get carried away with comparisons here but I'm a historian (or so they told me at university) and so I like to make historical connections between our present day and past occurrences. It was Pasha in Doctor Zhivago who claimed "the private life is dead in Russia". Perhaps the private life here is dying? How many national databases share our private information every day? How many people sell their privacy for 88p?

While I don't have to be a part of this, I refuse to be. Ironic really, considering the fact that I am blogging my life to the world, but at least that is of my own choosing. And plus, I like to think it is my own minute political stand. Better ring the JobCentre now and tell them I choose not to sell my soul for 88p and I really haven't found them the least bit helpful. After all, I am the one who has just secured myself work experience at Time Out Magazine. I can't wait to get some more experience. It may be unpaid but even they are offering me travel expenses and £2 for my lunch each day... I might even be able to afford some sandwich fillings for my bread now.

6 April 2012

No Job, No Benefits...No Nothin'

I'm not really sure whether this is positive or negative factor on my life as a whole but I have been refused Job Seeker's Allowance. After putting myself through two rather un-fun trips to sign on at my local Job Centre Plus and diligently noting down the ways in which I had been searching for jobs to prove that I should be allowed the benefit, it has all come to, well, nothing

I have to admit it did seem stupid writing down all the jobs I had applied for and going along to the centre like a naughty child who now has to keep a record of all their homework. The lady I showed it to didn't even look at it properly and decided to pick out the one job that I was not proud of applying for.... sales assistant at Victoria's Secret. (I couldn't resist the call of discounted undies). I hadn't even received the letter telling me whether or not they were going to give me the Allowance. Well, they're not, the stingy buggers, because apparently I earn wayyy too much. Now I do see where they are coming from. My waitressing jobs can sometimes earn me around £52 a week, the amount the government claims we need to live, but they don't always. In the off months I can get far less than that. Should I just quit my job and re-claim? That's hardly an honest way to live and plus I know that I would just get bored bored bored without some kind of work distraction. If the government aren't going to help me, I shall just have to keep trying to help myself. And by this I do not mean pickpocketing the wealthy iPad users on the tube.

I did not get the internship I wanted. I got a nice reply from the internship agency saying that the interviewer enjoyed meeting me and said that I would be a great addition to anyone's team, however, they needed someone to work 5 days a week. Huh? I do not recall mentioning I couldn't work full time? What followed was a series of emails to clear up the mistake. The astute interviewer had got me 'confused' with another candidate. Fantastic. So when I thought we were getting on really well and all having a laugh together, actually it turns out he was probably just flirting with his co-worker and getting distracted from the real task at hand. The more I interview, the more enraged I feel  at the way I am treated. Needless to say, I no longer want to work for them anyway. So ha. 

Before I revert completely to my childish self, I will offer some words of hope. I have had work with a wonderful new start-up website over the last few days (earning real money... insane, I know) and made some great contacts in the travel journalism industry. I'm also off to do some travel of my own in Berlin over the next few days so I'll say ta-ra for now, or auf wiedersehen as they say over there, and with any luck I'll return with a head full of inspiration and a belly full of beer and sausages. Here's hoping.