I have recently experienced a spell of employment, which is now over. I have also run out of money.
I am not going to blog about the work, mainly because I am not an idiot and the agency made me sign a thing saying I wouldn’t. All I really want to say is that I had thought my standards were quite low, but it turns out my tolerance for tedious routine work is not as high as I had thought (or as it used to be). My mum was delighted I had a job, any job, and, exasperatingly wanted me to be happy to experience ‘the dignity of work’. Conversely, I found it useful, politically, to experience first-hand the indignity of precarious, poorly paid, repetitive process work. The mechanisms of control, close monitoring, scrutiny, divide and rule tactics, the humiliating rituals, the dismal surroundings of the ‘technology park’, the terrible coffee. Not to mention the casual routine sexism (and other forms of hate) of the workplace.
The experience, like many I have had since giving up my job and moving to Liverpool, has forced me to face up to my privilege. I can’t honestly describe myself as poor. I have some of what might be called social and cultural capital, more than enough material possessions and friends and parents who would not let me starve. I am able to come away feeling confidently ‘I’m too good for this work’ and hope, eventually, I will find something less shit. Some of my colleagues were more upset and worried than me about their return to unemployment, and did not deserve to be kicked out, and I feel outraged, and guilty about this unfairness.
But I have also been forced to realise the limits of my privilege, as I have actually run out of money. It’s not really surprising, but the rational knowledge that it would happen soon has not prepared me for the feeling. I feel guilt, for being so spoiled, but also know that many of the ways of making my life more enjoyable cost money.
So, back to the applications, back (more assertively this time) to the dole office.
In the meantime, I wrote two poems about the experience.
The Sack (For Jack)
End of contract
Don’t come back
There it is in black and white
there it is there’s no use fighting it
Some of the others were hit with grief
I just feel a big relief.
The naughty kids were taken in
and told the bad news one by one,
but when she came for Liam
we all wondered ‘what’s he done?’
When we were chatting about cake,
it was Liam who got told off;
the others were not picked on,
but then, we’re not from Toxteth.
I know that when we’re unemployed
I’ll stay in bed ’til three,
but in his orange swimming kit,
he’ll swim in Wavertree.