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> > > The Saga of the Job Seeker by John Exell

16 December 2006

Written during the Recession of the early 90's

Job Seeker I - Job Seekers' Psychosis

I seem to have contracted Job Seekers' Psychosis.
I first noticed it the other day.
Job adverts began to swim before my eyes.
I could read other things, all except job adverts.
I went straight home and went to bed,
Saying to myself, It's another day tomorrow.
But when tomorrow came, I couldn't get up.
When I finally did, and went out,
My legs refused to move in the direction of the job centre.
I told them to, but they wouldn't,
They went the other way.
Even in the library,
My hands refused to open the newspapers at the job section.
Instead my eyes would only read the funnies,
And a piece about someone caught with a government whip in their hands.
I'd stopped reading my stars long ago.
They always said something like,
Play your cards right and promotion is on its way,
Or Love blossoms in the workplace today.
I went to the doctor.
I told him that I had Job Seekers' Psychosis.
He looked at me blankly,
Then he took a large book from the shelf, thumbed through,
And declared,
It's not here. It's unknown to science.
How did I feel? What were its symptoms?
I said they were extreme anger.
A strong desire to see a change in government.
Even go to parliament and scream and shout.
Wanting to swear and curse at the next person to say,
Haven't you got a job yet!
Or Get a job! There's plenty of work if you look for it,
And other such comments.

A desire to rant and rave at the people working at the job centre,
With all their smarmy looks.
If it wasn't for the likes of me,
They too would be looking for work.
These were its positive symptoms.

Its negative symptoms were extreme lethargy,
Laying in bed, sitting at home, staring at the wallpaper.
Guilt, shame, depression, and worrying about money.
He said,
A lot of his patients had been complaining of the same symptoms.
He took a prescription pad, saying, What do you want?
A decent job, I replied.
He smiled wryly,
And wrote me out a prescription for valium,
Saying, Take one of these when it gets too bad,
"But not too many.

He's a good doctor.
He reached for the certificate pad;
How long do you want?
Until the recession's over, I replied.
Come and see me in a month, he said,
Handing me a note saying, depression - a month off.
Stop looking for work for a while,
"Don't even think about it.
"Do something worthwhile, get meaning back in your life.
"Have a bit of fun, try to enjoy yourself.
"Take up a hobby.
"Try to get away.
"Anything but look for work.

I took his advice.
He's a good doctor.

 

Page 2

Job Seeker 2 - Job Seekers' Psychosis Becomes Official

Job seeker is now on the sick.
He now takes it easy and enjoys himself,
Applying for jobs in his own time,
Jobs he likes the sound of,
Jobs he would like to do,
And not too far away.
He received form HD362A
From the Department of Social Security.
It asked him if and why he was still sick.
Being an honest man,
He replied that he suffered from extreme anxiety,
Depression and Paranoia,
In fact from Job Seekers' Psychosis.
That he was seeking work,
But he couldn't sign on.
The Job Centre still featured heavily in his Paranoia.
He posted the form and submitted himself to his fate.
After a while, the Social Security replied.
He no longer needed to look for work, they said.
He had passed, or rather failed, the all work test.
He was on the sick for life,
If he wanted to be,
If he wanted to be.
Job Seekers' Psychosis had become official.
Job Seeker can now be seen,
Slowly meandering down the Broadway,
Sharing a laugh and a joke with his friends
At the Mind Café or the Day Centre.
Every now and then,
He is known to softly close his eyes,
And whisper quietly to himself,
God is good, God is merciful,
"God is just, God is kind,
"Praise be to God.
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Page 3

Job Seeker 3 - Death Of A Job Seeker

Job seeker received a phone call about a job.
How long have you been seeking work they asked.
About five years he replied.
Then I'm sorry, we cannot help you, it is too long.
At long last, job seeker faced facts.
He was 46, a paranoid depressive,
Had job seekers' psychosis,
Was either under or over qualified for most jobs,
And he had been out of work for five years.
He was unemployable,
He probably would never get a job again.
His chances of winning the lottery were higher.
He was on the scrap heap.
He let himself sink back and there and then
Gave up looking for work.
A great weight lifted from his mind,
He felt free of a great burden.
He frequented more often the Mind Café
And the Unemployment Centre.
If I'm to be on the scrap heap,
I may as well get to know who I'm on it with.
He found a lot of people had given up,
Just passed and wasted their time in despondency.
Their level of conversation left a lot to be desired.
Nothing going on here, he said.
Then he noticed quite a few people
were doing things,
Acting positively, helping each other,
Doing voluntary work, writing and reading poetry,
Some bright spark had even started a poetry group,
Learning, teaching, studying, doing, organising,
Painting, drawing, writing,
Doing things for each other.
He liked this group and joined it.
It was positive.
More people joined.
They got it down to a fine art.
Doing things for each other, helping each other.
They pooled their skills and resources.
There were child minders,
plumbers, decorators, architects,
Teachers, administrators, gardeners,
cooks, artists, poets.
The list was endless.
Some had houses, others didn't.
Some had cars, others didn't.
Some had computers, washing machines,
Deep freezers, electric drills.
Again the list was endless.
They got organised.
Shared houses, shared cars, shared tools.
Some grew vegetables and supplied the others.
One person even kept chickens.
There were people to mend the fuse,
Stop a dripping tap,
Teach and fix the computer, counsel and advise,
Organise, administrate, write poems, draw posters,
Cook a meal, bake a cake,
Do the ironing, make tea,
Make and butter toast in the morning.
Yet again the list was endless.
Parties were held every Saturday night.
They formed a solid community,
Based at the Mind Café
and the Unemployment Centre,
Bound by the ties of friendship and necessity.
They called it Userania.
Many of the despondent joined.
Userania re-kindled their hope.
Women and men buried their differences
In the face of the great enterprise.
It was so successful, so fulfilling,
That no one bothered to look for work anymore,
Even when there was a temporary upsurge
in vacancies.
Those in boring jobs even jacked it in
To join Userania,
Others joined in in their spare time,
And swapped their extra cash
For skills from the community.

Links were made with other communities
In the area and nation-wide,
Swapped ideas, skills, even people.
Self sufficiency was the name of the game.
They even formed a company,
produced goods and services,
And traded with the rest of society.


Userania, as did other similar communities,
grew from strength to strength,
And acted as a foundation for the new society.

Page 4

Job Seeker 4 - Reality

Job seeker thought of work again.
But there was no work for him.
Besides, he'd heard dreadful stories
Of the stress of modern jobs.
Likewise of signing on.
He also remembered his experiences
Of contracting job seekers psychosis.
His depression got the better of him.
He took to his bed.
If I'm supposed to be ill,
"I'm jolly well gonna be ill.

So he stayed in bed and pretended to be ill.
He played on being sick,
Tried to make a career out of it.
But indeed, what was the alternative.
Who could blame him.
After a while, of course, he got iller.
He took to his bed more often than usual.
He became bored.
He began to lose the use of his arms,
His legs and his brain.
On one of his few jaunts round town,
And they were becoming fewer,
He noticed several people suffering
from the same disease,
And it was a disease.
People had grown fat, they lurched along,
Their now useless hands and arms
dangling by their side.
He tried to talk to these people,
But hardly got any conversation,
The same phrases were repeated
over and over again.
He looked at himself.
He had become remarkably similar.
He was on the downward spiral
That led nowhere.
He had to work, he had to study
do something, do anything.
Nature has a way of destroying or taking away
That which proves useless or isn't used.
I'll repeat that as it's very important.
Nature has a way of destroying or taking away
That which proves useless or isn't used.
His hands, once so busy, once so swift,
would wither and die.
His brain, once so sharp and keen,
was dying, blunting.
He had to work, had to study,
do something, do anything.
But there was no work,
He thought of voluntary work,
But had tried that and got bored.
He thought of more difficult voluntary work,
More involving,
Making it more like work.
He had to do something.
Working for his mother?
His mother just did housework,
But her brain was still sharp,
And she was thirty years older than him.
Taking risks, taking responsibility
Putting his life on the line.
There were libraries stacked with books.
He had his own book collection
But now he didn't have to study a set course,
He could read what he liked,
And take his own time at it.
Rest when he wanted,
But he had to re-sharpen his mind.
He re-examined the whole nature
Of work and study.

It wasn't just because someone said he had to.
It wasn't just to earn some money,
It is what our hands and brain
have been designed for,
It is God's and Nature's way.
It was for himself.


He didn't want his hands and brain to die.
He would work and study for their own sake,
for his own sake.
Stretch himself, sharpen his mind,
Make his hands agile once more.
But in his own time, not for money, but for himself.
Not for some man or woman standing over him,
Not for some cause, his old school, God or country,
But just for himself, it was nature's way.
And he began to see the world as just for himself
And as natures way.

John Exell