til we close our eyes for good

I am back in Bristol, and looking for a job! One of these two is an agreeable state of being.

Dad picked me up from Reservoir Road on the 11th, and with the car brimful of more stuff than I can ever remember owning we staggered back to a town I haven’t spent much time in lately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – maybe it’s that I’ve been spending too long in some spectacularly run-down pieces of suburbia, but Clifton never looked so beautiful.

My house – my parents’ house – is still too big, too cold and too messy. The taps run chill, the washing-up implements are grimy stinking hives of infection, most of the rest of the kitchenware could be swapped out for random rocks without any loss in sharpness or functionality. At night, the lights are broken or too dim or my parodically energy-conscious family just plain don’t turn them on. The internet is a wreck, sputtering fitfully and incapable of sustaining a connection for five minutes straight. The hills are steeper than I remember (perhaps I’m getting old), and half the time it’s pissing rain. I am convinced that April and June have swapped places this year; April was nothing but perfect summer, whereas this month has been riddled with grey misery and storm showers. But I am home and dry, and it’s not just nice in comparison with Reservoir Road: it’s just nice, objectively.

I need a summer job. I need it for several reasons. I promised my parents I would, upon getting bailed out over Mason; we still haven’t established how much I owe them, but several grand would not be impossible or unreasonable. I need the discipline: without something to actually do, even something as insubstantial and undemanding as three contact hours a week plus Redbrick and library, I seem to sleep all day (this is possibly making up for how I was averaging 4-6 hours at uni, but as far as I know “sleep debt” doesn’t work like that.) And I need the money. I’m not living hand to mouth, but I’m close than I’ve ever been.

However, the world of work is not a friendly place to the underexperienced, overeducated and overexpectant. I don’t have any aversion to proper physical work; my last couple of jobs being the chip shop and the census, anything which doesn’t get me verbal-and-gob-related abuse/13-hour suicide shifts/200-degree grease burns is a step up. I would very happily take on any really awful, minimum-wage dogsbody job (not being a sanctimonious bib-wearing charity-mugger, though, fuck that forever). Unfortunately, practically every “fantastic opportunity” to work for a “national/world-leading business” (or “up-and-coming franchise”) in a capacity that barely requires a pulse wants six to twelve months of relevant experience and the sort of superhuman qualities Heracles would blush to admit to.

My CV is not bad at all. I have actually worked with the public, and I’m pretty good at it. I’m solid on computers, thoroughly tech-literate and with grand-sounding extracurricular positions to prove it. I’m intelligent and pick things up fast; I’ve been in closer contact with the grimy side of the world than most of my peers. I’m enthusiastic and serious, can be friendly on demand (though smiles that reach the eyes cost extra). I do work well in a group, and I do work well individually. I want money, and while I have no particular allegiance to any of the soulless corporati as something other than a potential money outlet, I do see that the best way to stay employed and be rewarded is to do as good a job as I can – and I would do a damn good job.

The trouble is, when I come to actually write this down as succinctly as I can, it’s the same old litany of bullshit that everyone everywhere puts down because their careers advisor told them to. Motivated, people skills, excellent communication, versatile, good in a team, good individually. That it’s actually true makes no difference.

The mutual insincerity of it, the utter, gagging mendacity, is painful. The recruiting side can’t really believe that they’re offering anyone a “fantastic opportunity” or that this job requires more than basic English, two hands and the ability to breathe. Nobody is “passionate” about customer service, and certainly nobody’s life’s dream was being a tiny part of some parish business or generic soulless mid-tier corporation. (And if there are actually demented creatures out there who are “passionate” about bringing their customers “great value”, then they’re fucked by the system too because all the normal people are crying wolf.) All the meaningless superlatives like “exceptional” and “fantastic”, they’re vile, buzzword chaff, believed by nobody – but everyone seems to need to go through the motions, because everyone else does. The system of structured, ritualised lies we’ve created boggles the mind. Most of the most absurd and vile social constructs tend to have, at heart, a good if distasteful reason to exist, but I can’t see how any of this helps anyone; the only explanation I can see is an arms race of self-promotional disingenuity, run way the hell out of control.

So! I’ve handed my worthless collection of buzzwords in at various village shops with WARM BODY WANTED signs up, applied on more job sites for more dogsbody positions than I can remember with more fulsome enthusiasm than any of them deserve, and a couple of more specialised and better paying things that are well within my capabilities. I’ve signed on with a couple of temp agencies and mean to look for a few more in the near future. I have thus far had no positive feedback from anyone. However, I am maintaining a cheery, optimistic outlook. Ask again in a week.

(What do you mean, “bad attitude”?)


3 thoughts on “til we close our eyes for good

  1. meteorakuli says:

    I hate CVs so much. But like you said, you actually have half-decent stuff to put on it.

    If all else fails, I think you should become a private detective. According to my research you can be as mean and sarcastic as you like, and you will still be constantly propositioned by rich and beautiful women. Also, I heard there’s guns and stuff involved.

  2. hobben says:

    It’s not admitting defeat to sign up with a couple of agencies – it doesn’t hurt to try, you’re more motivated than the average agency temp (put on shift work on manual production lines, apparently something over half never turned up for a second shift when I temped), and sometimes you really strike lucky with the work: I spent two days driving all manner of cars through a car auction one summer.

    Also apply to supermarkets, DIY stores, the lot – avoid completely speculative applications as they smack a lot of “oh god I will do anything for a job, please rescue me from the crack-addled alley I’m working in now”. I don’t have the patience now for idiots as when I actually did customer-facing work, but I suspect you do. If nothing else you’ll write far more eloquently about your frustrations than I ever did!

  3. dandelion says:

    Good luck with finding a job – one of your best options in Bristol might be to offer your CV to the supermarkets in student areas, with the idea that you’d be replacing the student workers who move back home during the summer. Otherwise, have you considered internet-based jobs? A friend of mine had a long-term job doing transcription for a company – bit dull, but steady work.

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