Jobcentre – A Job

I stayed at the Jobcentre for longest. Having a kid meant I couldn’t just spontaneously wander off and go live somewhere else without telling anyone. I put in about six years of sporadically diligent service sucking up eight to ten hours a day of straight misery told through tears and cider fumes. Nobody comes to a Jobcentre to tell you how well their life is going – and the people who work there, well, there lives aren’t necessarily any better. There were times I went to work there after sleeping in a cave – most of the people I saw on the other side of the desk had at least had a bed to lie in til the middle of the afternoon. I saw a guy one morning who’d turned up late after sitting around for hours in the local hospital walk-in. When I asked him what was wrong, he unbuttoned his left shirt sleeve and peeled it down around a forearm that was made of green, rotting meat, wet and fatty and stinking like shit, bone visible in places. He said he’d lose it soon. It seemed a very sad thing indeed to be facing the prospect of losing a part of you that you’d had since you were a perfect little baby. My own son was only a year or so old at this point and I’d been struggling to get a grip on the weird new emotions I’d had squirming around since he’d been born. I couldn’t help but think that this wretched, rotting smackhead had once been someone’s little boy. So much can go wrong. When he left, one of the security guys came over with some antiseptic wipes and a can of air freshener, but the stench of that putrid, gangrenous flesh coated my sinuses for the rest of the day. When I went to read a book about serial killers and eat my salami sandwiches in the staff room at lunch time, I found the second I raised the food to my lips I was staring at the decomposing tissue again and couldn’t open my mouth. At the end of the day, my wife came to pick me up. It was Friday, and we were going to a gig, but she’d forgotten to bring me a change of clothes so I stood there in the pub feeling like I was in fancy dress, resentfully watching her dancing away in the wreckage of a marriage that we were just so bored of talking about. When they finished, we set off to walk to her friend’s house but both ended up stomping off in an anguished strop. I was absolutely hammered and didn’t have a clue where I was. I fell asleep in a playground in the rain, woke in the early hours of the morning and dragged my hangover home.

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