Signing On

Yesterday, the wife checked out the sort of places locally where a crackhead might go to unload a stolen laptop. Unsurprisingly, there are a few such establishments on Kilburn High Road, gentrification taking longer on the major artery that is the A5 than the leafier roads to the west and east. Sadly, no sign of my MacBook.

We had to sign on today at the depressing cube farm that is Kilburn job centre. You get a little booklet with a lot of pages in it that you have to read and a bunch of forms to fill in showing how you’ve been looking for work. They also have a computer system which registers what sort of work you’re looking for, except it doesn’t have any jobs in the database that have come into existence in the last 20 years. Technical Project Manager? No. Web Editor? No. Content Director? Product Manager? No and no.

The whole place has that dated, depressing institutional feel that borders on the tragic, you can imagine there’s a room at the back where they enter all the data onto the machine using punch cards, dreaming of the day they can upgrade to 5″ floppy disks.

It was a poor experience compared to how I remember. The first time I signed on I would have been about 16, back then you signed on at the Unemployment Benefit Office rather than the Job Centre, so you never got distracted by the latest vacancies when you went in. Much more civilised…

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