Being unemployed has its ups and downs. Today was one of the downs.
The Unemployment People, in their infinite wisdom, require unemployed folks to attend an orientation workshop at one of their many one-stop career centers. I chose the one nearest our home, signed up, and this morning drove to a town about 20 minutes away. The career center is located in an old junior high school building, so it definitely has that "school" feel to it.
We were herded into a classroom, and a woman immediately started barking out orders. "Sign the sheet!" "Fill out the first page of the form, front and back!"
Well, hello. You couldn't say "welcome" or something?
So we obediently sat down and started filling out the form. "Now where it says salary, that means household salary, so add together the earnings of both the husband and the wife," she said. After she said this a few times, I realized that it was actually quite offensive. Hasn't she heard of gay marriage? It could be two husbands or two wives. Also, isn't that assuming a lot, that all these people are married? How about divorced people?
She also told us to write down where we went to school, and the location of the school and the dates. Of course, there wasn't actually a place to put this on the form. But we needed to write it down anyway. I just love it when the form doesn't match the information they want.
Finally, everyone arrived who was supposed to be there, and the Woman (she never did tell us her name) started her presentation. It was a jumble of advice, tips, demands, commands, side comments, and threats. For example, to her credit, she encouraged us not to isolate ourselves, and to "take charge of our own job search." And to plan something to do each day for our job search. Good advice.
On the "threat" side of things, she told us that if we didn't sign up for a website called JobQuest, we could lose our unemployment benefits. Also, if we didn't sign in correctly today for this workshop, we could lose our benefits. Also if we didn't read all the material that Unemployment sends us in the mail.
The career center offers workshops, and some of them sounded interesting. You can see the list of workshops online, but you can't sign up online: you have to call, or come in, in order to sign up. Brilliant. Turns out that many of the workshops I'm interested in are already filled. I wonder what you have to do to actually get into a workshop?
At one point, one of the gentlemen attending the class fell asleep, and started to snore. The Woman wasn't amused. (FYI there was a 3 to 1 ratio of women to men in this class.)
Near the end of her presentation, one of The Woman's colleagues came into the classroom. We had each been assigned a career center ID number. She read the numbers off to us, quickly. Nice.
Finally, a certain number of people in the class were randomly assigned to have a one-on-one meeting with one of the career center staff. I wasn't one of the lucky ones. That was fine by me. I was ready to get out of there and find a nice hot cup of coffee.
I found the whole experience kind of depressing. There are many of us unemployed people out there, and this is the kind of help they are giving us? I must say I didn't have a ton of confidence in The Woman or in the career center. Would they really be any help at all in my job search? I guess I will try to sign up for one of the workshops and give it a fighting chance.