JobCentre Plus: A Graduate's Perspective

Tomorrow I go to the job centre again. Ten minutes sat watching the dregs of society wander around me in tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts with holes from labels ripped out, […]

The real world is hard

Tomorrow I go to the job centre again. Ten minutes sat watching the dregs of society wander around me in tracksuit bottoms and t-shirts with holes from labels ripped out, and I judge them. I make stories of deceit and stories of despair for those desperate people who wander around me. And I consider myself better, I have a degree you see, I am educated, I am a lower class boy done good, I am no longer part of this culture.

Then the beautiful part, ten minutes with an overweight man who I know I am better than, who tells me to apply for jobs that he could never get, because you see, I have a degree. I smile and nod politely and go along with this foolishness but the sparse directions he gives me are a weak ghost of what I am already doing, so why am I here? For fifty six pounds a week? Is that what I am worth to the world?

But that’s not why. I am there because I am not better than them. I am one of them, this is my place right now and I should not judge. But I do, that is what I have become, university has made me one of an elite many who are specialists in wants, who know much without knowing how to exercise that knowledge in such a way that someone will give me money for it.

It was easier to judge at first, such high hopes upon graduation. I have a degree. I have worked in my field of choice, I am ahead of even those who graduate with me, I am better than them. And so, of course, I get the interviews. Every company that could conceivably want me sees my C.V, the platitudes of wonder that I can express about myself on two electronic, unreal pages of utter crap and calls me in to be viewed, like a zoo animal, is this the graduate we want?

But I am found out, I am not better than them. I walk in calm, composed. I look good in a suit. But I am found wanting. Another has more experience they say. You weren’t quite right for the role they say.

Meaningless, meaningless sentences for meaningless roles in meaningless companies in a meaningless life. I eat, I piss, I shit and on occasion I fuck but it is all so meaningless now. Now I have been one of them for so long. Now I accept the den of sin that is my life, even though the sin is sloth, that most boring of sins. I accept it because the government gives me fifty six pounds a week to accept it, a sum of money too large to warrant ignoring but too small to allow for a life with any meaning to be lived. Or in terms a student would understand, enough to get drunk but not enough to forget why you’re drinking.

So tomorrow I will sit there, I will put my signature in a small green box and nod politely at the fat man who controls my money like little golden drugs with an aging monarchs face smiling on them. And I will slowly come to accept that I am as shitty as the stories I make for those around me, and it will be harder to think I look good in a suit, it will be harder to be confident at interviews and it will be harder to keep the fat man happy. It will be harder to keep up the façade in my mind that I am better than them and I will fester and rot and all the good and all the knowledge I contain will seep out, like so much shit that I no longer need. And then I will be one of them. And then what?

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University of Southampton