August 4, 2015

Come Fly With Me? ....Fat Chance Now!

During my lengthy stay at JobActive Central, this week, I had plenty of time to google and I came across this timely article, Leaving on a trashed plane, don't if I'll be back again. And oh how it made me yearn for the days of my 20s, 30s, even 40s, when travelling was a somewhat tidier experience. In fact I was the quintessential frequent flyer. But that was then. Pre-mortgage, pre-root canal therapy ...and the rest.

And back then, during times of high, secure employment (and the trappings of youth, perky boobs, and a shiny complexion), travelling the world was my oyster. I even recall calling from Boston (where I was home and hosed at my sister's place), and telephoning my boss in Melbourne, to casually say that I'd be held up in the USA for an extra week. And would that be a problem? Not at all, he said. I'd had a friend filling in for my role back home (glad to be out of there once I returned). So it was "all good". 

Can't imagine that happening now, in these more gladiatorial times. Particularly, post-mortgage, and due to my professional unemployee status a lady of a certain age. 

Of course back then - despite the odd skirmish - terrorism was not top of mind. But I do recall getting a just-in-case pack of 5 valium, from my GP, should some bizarre emergency happen midflight. And I wasn't going to leave my GP's office, or Tullamarine airport, until I had that valium.  

These days, different story. Fastrack to now, and I have a just-in-case supply of valium to cope with LTRJABS (Long-Term Repetitious Job Application Burnout Syndrome).

And speaking of air travel, added to this, of course we now have Bronwyn Bishop and her helicopter flight fetish - dominating front-page news and other media. It's almost brought me out in a rash. 

Admittedly, I did go into shock when I discovered she'd resigned over it. But she's got the right hair, grooming and poise, for being an air-hostess - so perhaps there's a chance for a career sideways change. But actually, I really do see her resignation as a no-brainer, as who would want that job as Speaker anyway? ...except perhaps some media savvy school principal. 

Here I'm thinking along the lines of ex-Camberwell High School Principal, Elida Brereton ... Well known for her outstanding, authentic performance on Summer Heights High. Having done a stint at that school, during her time there (and the filming of that gritty show), I can see her fitting right in to that speaker's chair. Now SHE wouldn't take any hanky panky from anyone over at Federal Parliament. And should she be headhunted for the role ....Christopher Pyne, you just watch out!  

And from Elida Brereton's no-nonsense ways, I can imagine she'd be content to go economy class all the way. And ....she'd make those poorly behaved parliamentarians, pick-up after themselves ...Yes every scrap of paper left lying around in those Marveered halls. The houses of Australia's Federal Parliament would become permanently spotless. 

However dear reader, while on the topic, perhaps there's an unemployee out there who could fit the bill for the newly vacant speaker role. And please, I welcome your suggestions in the comments space below. If any one has a link to the official Job Description please post it to

That said, Bronwyn's resignation, and the opening up of the Pandora's box of entitlements enjoyed by our Australian pollies (on all sides), has firmly highlighted their unrealistic want to "Fly too High" - in more ways than one - at the Australian taxpayer's expense.   

And aren't we minions, all enjoying that revelation.

It gives all and sundry - in their ivory towers -  a sharp reality bite, of those on ground level (such as the unemployed), who can struggle to even purchase a Myki card, and keep it re-charged. Or, if they've got a car, filling the tank with petrol, can be a dilemma. And if the car breaks down? Can't bear to think about that. And is it food this week, or toilet roll? And despite winter's freezing temperatures, do we go all out, risk turning on the gas, and ultimately face a huge gas bill (which cashed-up pollies would have NO IDEA about.) But do they do anything about the rising cost of utilities? No. But they just LOVE hanging on to their entitlements (and debating or justifying whether they're entitled to them - ad nauseum.)

Moreover, Bronwyn's and clearly, most of the other pollies - entitled "flights of fantasy" add new meaning to that recent, equally headline making statement of Treasurer Joe Hockey.

What was it that chauffer-driven Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey said? Oh yes, it was something along the lines of declaring that,  "Poor people don't have cars or travel very far..."


And how much does he get paid for his job? Not to mention the perks, the secure and substantial superannuation scheme he gets post parliament? Plus the frequent flyer gold card entitlement (and so forth) gifted to him (& his polly mates), going forward.

And of course there's that residential bolthole he's got being paid off lucratively and creatively, via the Parliamentary Priveleged "Frequent Flyers To Canberra Club."

Says it all really.


 "Poor people don't have cars or travel very far..."

Malcolm Turnbull says proper use of MPs parliamentary entitlements comes down to common sense (SMH)

Image: X-Ray Delta One

July 25, 2015

Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For? [Mutual Obligations ep. 22]

OK. So today's the day. Alas, I return home to my intuitive, excited dog - post jobactive appointment, numero uno - unscathed. But feeling quite in need of a non-surgical lobotomy. 

What do the career-ologists and time management pros say? 

Preparation. Preparation. Preparation. 

And their rule #1? Make self look presentable ...As if you are going to an actual job interview, and not en route to the gym ....or out to the letterbox in your manky pyjamas.

So prior to the appointment, I throw on a jobactive-appropriate outfit. Check self out in mirror. See a vision of a stressed-out hag, dressed up as flathead.(But at least I had "bed hair" which is all the rage right now).

So off comes outfit #1, and on goes my go-to-anywhere patterned shift dress. BIG improvement. And I add a finishing touch with my trusty black coat. I grab power-handbag (proudly purchased from Salvos for $8.)  Forgo fuschia pink lipstick now that Barbie's out of the scene.  In fact, due to time limit, I'm make-up free all the way (yes I know, I'm more on-trend than the trendoids).  Fill bag with notepad for doodling, and assorted biros. And of course throw in the printed off resume - which they (jobactivists) said was all I needed to take there. 

But then wouldn't you know it?......just as I was about to head out the door, phone rings.

Of course, if it was a telemarketer offering those damn energy-saving light-bulbs - or some other stupid thing - I would default to my Italian persona and say, "Ciao Enzo? Come stai? Dove sai? Quello che ora in Italia ...e che stai indossando!?"  At which point, the telemarketer would hang up IMMEDIATELY. It works for me! (so all those "gap year" Italian language courses in the old country weren't a waste of time and money after all!) Apologies dear reader. I digress.

The telephone call announces a HUGELY-VERY important family matter to attend to. So with the two older, very employed "sensibly cashed-up siblings" gone bush to attend a wedding (where the reception's to be held in a heritage-listed mental asylum, of all places mind you! Possibly quite appropriate though) - baby bear - being me (the unemployable, working poor of the family), has to deal with a unique urgent situation on the parental homefront ...involving a construction guy in a hard hat, and some uniquely placed water pipes. 

Hard-hat guy asks me the $5,000 question. Do I want them (the pipes) to stay or go? All I can think is, what would I know about such pipes?! I know bugger all about pipes. 

However, after a quick call to a recently outsourced surrogate Godfather (aka real estate supremo and my NBF ...who knows his pipes), and a quickly and carefully composed extortion toned email - sent from me, to hard-hat guy (as so advised by outsourced surrogate Godfather), it's all sorted. Competently I might add.

Wish I could put THAT on my CV! And at last I can breathe again. And I return to initial program ...being get thee to my jobactive appointment on time.

So baby bear of the family DID GOOD. I then ring, jobactive Central, to profusely apologize that I am running a little late, due to an unforeseen "domestic"? water pipe (not quite Cuban Missile) crisis, scenario.

Naturally got recorded answering machine. So Ieft message telling the jobactive activists, that I'd be a little late ....maybe twenty minutes? And I wonder, should I wait for them to call me back? Possibly arrange another interview time? Then think better go there, otherwise they may cut off my Centrelink inheritance.

When I get there, very harassed looking reception lady says to wait in the big room off to the side. The big room has three computers at one end. At which there are three youngster unemployees seated (wearing gym gear I might add, the sloths! But VERY snazzy sports shoes. That said, such luminous footwear never suited me anyway.) 

They madly tap away at who knows what? There's a TV & DVD player at the other end. And most of the room, of course was taken up by a large board-room sized table. 

There sat two others like me - midlife "unemployables in waiting" of Asian extraction. 

Of course, I'm not of Asian extraction - but quite possibly my exotic dog is. 

I greet them cordially, like they are old friends. We all give each other the secret nod, like I expect they do in the mafia.

What I like about the room, is that I get a clear, birds-eye view of my car parked opposite, in a one hour zone. So I can keep an eye on any pre-menstrual ticket inspectors.

There are two different forms on the table. Seeing no one is offering to play online Chinese Checkers with me, I take the initiative, grab the forms, and set-to completing them. The first is titled: Personal Skills & Experience Checklist.  The second is titled: Criminal Convictions Form.

I ask a WASPY looking guy seated near the doorway, if we need to fill out the Criminal Convictions form. He said he didn't, but I replied, that maybe we should, as it might fast-track us into a better, or any job? ....or even getting noticed by the job(in)active staff?

So time passes. And I overhear the very harassed, evidently distracted staff (all ladies, running around, like roosters with their heads cut off, as my mother would say), say to each other, "Carmen's here."   Again I hear, "Carmen's here." 

And I think (ala Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver), ARE YOU TALKIN' TO ME?! 

So I stand up, cruise past the reception area, quoting Lionel Richie (of course without the orchestral backing), and say,  "Hello, is it me you're looking for ....?"  But no cigar. Waste of time and energy. 

And so despite my poise, pleasantries, and polished presentation, they continue to ignore me. So I return back to the big "naughty room".

At this point my two fellow unemployees of Asian extraction, the WASP guy who didn't fill out the Criminal History form, and the three free-range unemployables (previously tapping away at the computers), have all but disappeared. And I'm home alone there.

I bee-line out to the permanently harassed reception lady, explain I have to check-out of jobactive HQ temporarily, to re-park my car (and like the Terminator), say, "I WILL return!" And I leave my resume (and other paper work, completed Skills Checklist & Criminal Convictions form) with her to remind her (or prove) that I am/was there.

With car re-parked, I return to jobactive Central, and wander around the room, checking out the contents of the half-empty bookcase. And I can't help noticing a BIG glass jar in one corner. It's like those enormous ones you see in homewares stores filled with fake white coral, or plastic lemons. In fact, the only other place I've spotted them, is in a medical museum collection, filled with post-mortem marsupials. 
On it is written: Daily Reflection Jar.

How lovely.

Like an ADHD, inquisitive year 9 student, I can't stop myself from taking a closer look. Feeling the harassed reception lady is totally disinterested in my presence, I slowly and very quietly open the glass lid (sideways doublechecking that permanently harassed reception lady isn't watching me). 

Inside are - not post-mortem marsupials of course - but strips of paper with quotations. No surprises there. So I pull one out. It states, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain. And I shove it in my handbag. The strip of paper that is, not the huge glass jar. 

Although I do see a place for that 
humongous vessel on my sideboard at home. They're quite on trend and rather pricey. But it wouldn't fit in my handbag. Must take bigger bag next time.

And I instantly ponder, what does it mean? Does Mark Twain MEAN that I'm there at jobactive Central, to have that very question answered? Or should I have double-dipped? ...and got a second opinion/strip of paper? But I fear harassed reception lady might catch me. So I destroy any evidence of foul-play, grab a few leaflets to read, and sit down the sensible woman of a certain age that I am.

Alone in the room, I'm now feeling home and hosed, in the "waiting room".

In my bag, I have a borrowed DVD of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that I'm late in returning. And to catch a few extra glimpses of sweetie pie Bill Nighy, consider popping it into the TV/DVD player to give it a quick re-run. No time like the present. However, a jobactive leaflet on the NEIS program diverts my attention.


With securing a job, currently as difficult as traversing Franz Josef Glacier (in stilettos), I've lately considered that running some kind of little business/start-up could be a shrewd manoeuvre. But what business? So I'm glad I've got the additional time to devour such a resourceful document.

Not meeting jobactive NEIS program criterion, are businesses involving: sex industry work, weaponry distribution, non compliant tattooing, mobile psychic and tarot reading, evangelical pursuits, clairvoyance, hypnotic surgery, aura washing (what's that?), numerology, gambling, greyhound management, illegal drug services.

So there goes those ideas!

And despite heading toward my second hour's wait, I'm feeling ok about things, having sorted out my former family associated matter. However, even though I continue to make my presence felt, by wandering around the agency - using their photocopier, talking loudly on my phone etc., they (the staff) continue to ignore me. Maybe they think I'm the "mystery shopper" sent from ASIO?" In which case I should have been taken care of first.

I also think that maybe they're keeping me waiting as punishment for being late - even though I had a good excuse - and being sent to the BIG side room was equivalent to being told to sit on the naughty step by that no-nonsense, English TV Supernanny.  

I continue waiting. FINALLY, I  tell harassed reception lady that I just HAVE TO LEAVE (as it's nearing my bed-time. Sorry this last bit's not true). Only then did someone come and profusely apologize that they'd forgotten I was there. I therefore ask if she could PLEASE!! just FAST TRACK my registration (like a quick pap smear, just get it over with!), as I had things to do (overdue DVD to return, people to see, and a lonely dog at home all ALONE that needed patting). 

And you know what, my "case manager" was REALLY REALLY nice to me! Not at all like Gestapo Barbie.     And on another level, not as delectable as monsieur.

Unfortunately, she had no chocolate to offer from her bottom drawer reward me for being such a GOOD GIRL!! for waiting all that time. But, she actually had a sense of humour!

And so did I? ....have a sense of humour  S-U-R-P-R-I-S-I-N-G-L-Y??!!

Alas, the overtly forgetful, "madam case manager" fast-tracked it all. Said that I only needed to go there once a month and that I'm a "Stream B person."

Now what does that mean on the Myers-Briggs Scale? Is it B for bad. B for brilliant? B for b*tch? Bilingual??  Or ....bag lady? Or all of the above?

And in return, which "Stream" would I apply, to madam case manager ...and her associated industry? Why of course Stream BS ...That is, BS for for B*llSh*t. Pardon mon French. But I'd had a bad week.

Apologies for the drivel dear reader. Can you even bear to hear more of this? 

Please so advise.

Wedding Update: Regarding that "destination wedding" reception held in a heritage listed mental asylum (somewhere Back of Bourke, for all I know) - middle sibling has informed me that the actual wedding ceremony took place in the asylum's morgue. And no, I am NOT making this up. The bride however, did look lovely, food was great, and all went spiffingly. 



Image: via flickr

July 24, 2015

Why I Hate Bras [By Claire Bell]


It turns out bra burning in the sixties never happened and after what I've just learnt about these fiendish contraptions, I wish it had.

Recently, I read about a 15-year French study that concludes bras are of no benefit to women and that they may even be harmful over time.

Bras, say the researchers, are a ”false necessity.”

Some women need bras for support and that’s a good reason to wear one, although I’ve just learned of a wonderful bra alternative for large-breasted women that is sure to be a success.

As for the rest of us, bras do nothing for breast health and it’s time to expose them for what they are: part modesty device, part fashion accessory, and big-part health risk.

Incarcerated breasts

Breasts like to move and we want them immobilized, so we strap on a modern-day corset to keep them in place and to stop any bouncing, sagging and nipple display.

This bosom incarceration – often in bras too small and tight – has serious ramifications and cancer might be one of them.

Bras also hinder lymph drainage. This is because bras alter breast shape and constrict their movement by applying constant pressure to breast tissue.

In their book Dressed To Kill, authors Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer say this constrictive pressure squeezes the tiny, delicate lymph vessels in the breast, impeding lymph flow and preventing lymph fluid from draining into the lymph nodes.

All this causes fluid and toxins to accumulate and for the breasts to become painful and tender. What’s more, fluid-filled cysts develop and this leads to fibrocystic breast disease in some women.

Singer and Grismaijer claim that 95 per cent of women who stop wearing bras notice a rapid improvement in breast health within days and they suggest going without a bra for a month to see for yourself.

Something else I didn’t know: bras keep breasts from sagging only while we wear them.

Breasts start drooping  because they have no muscle and it’s  diet and genetics that determine the speed of their descent.

In fact, bras may even make breasts sag more because the ligaments supporting them weaken and atrophy when given no chance to carry their own weight — this task is delegated to the shoulders when we wear bras. Use it or lose it is an apt epigram.

Start your bra rebellion covertly

Bra cold-turkey is too much for most of us, so I suggest you start your bra withdrawal in a shrewd and covert manner. You could, as I do, wear a camisole under your work attire and then go bra-free around the house.

Or simply wear your bra less and increase this bra-less time each day.

If you are of the small-to-medium breast brigade, why are you wearing a bra?

If it’s more to do with societal expectations, fashion or embarrassment, then you may feel inclined to explore the cold-turkey option.

This entails heading for the nearest hippie-revival bonfire, flinging your entire bradrobe into the roaring flames and staying for the after-party.

Here’s a link to, a site that features a  bra alternative for large-breasted women.

Reference: Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Bras and Cancer

Link: Huffington Post: Do Women Need Bras?

July 21, 2015

Hoovering The Hovel! Cleaning Tips, House Makeovers And Much! Much! More ...For The Employably Challenged! [With Guest Writer, Barbara Ganoush]

Are you struggling to live in the only 'dodgy diggs' you can afford on Newstart? Never fear! Barbara Ganoush has plenty of handy hints for keeping that shabby shack chic and cosy, or that rustic ranch from ruins. Don't you just love the illiteration!

Apparently, we're in a housing bubble. Some people say it's going to burst. Others say it will deflate, and yet others say it will simply just expand. I don't care what we're in, because the roofs that I want over my head are overpriced, over there, and I'm over it all. 

No, I'm not being picky - surely everyone has the right to a small dwelling that is safe, affordable, liveable and something that doesn't try to kill you and definitely something that you're not too embarrassed to entertain your friends in.

We're in a two bedroom very old original semi detached, that's under market price.  I was overjoyed when the real estate agent didn't ask too many questions regarding my employment status, or ask for too many references, and pets being ok was a bonus. But this comes with a price. Think your welfare diggs are beyond repair? ....Babs says there is no such thing. Phoey! your just not trying hard enough she says.  In our house, the first owners must have run out of money when they did the original renovations, (if you can call them that) because there's no wall on the front entrance - that separates us from the neighbours ...who occupy the other two bedroom semi.  So we have to share the front porch.  Share! being a word that one of the neighbours doesn't quite understand.

He's running some kind of carnival business and all manner of generators and sh*t clutters the porch. The carnies (as we affectionately call them) have a driveway and double garage, but you wouldn't know it because over the twelve months we've been living here, their front yard has turned into a storage facility with trucks, trailers, old tyres and other stuff occupying most of the front lawn and trailing all the way down the driveway to the back.

Back to our diggsThe plaster is flaking off the walls in nearly all the rooms. There is a huge chunk of plaster and wood, almost the size of the entire door frame missing in the doorway to the living room. It's just so attractive it looks like beavers have taken to it. The outside off white paint at the back of the house is now black, probably with mould. The foundations are dodgy, the roof needs fixing, there's bits and pieces cracked and hanging down off the outside of the house everwhere, and why does that pungent odour wafting out of the kitchen sink smell like fart! Oh dear!

Babs says I should wash my mouth out with soap, and toot sweet she's to the rescue with actizyme pellets - for the smell that is, not for my mouth, although? Apparently actizyme pellets eliminates odours and prevents blockages. They're actually living micro organisms that prevent the build up of fat, hair and grease by eating them. Wait!, I can see a start up happening! - stay tuned for Babs' beauty products. 
My flatmate reckons that nothing could survive eating whatever's making that foul stench in the kitchen, and she hopes that the micro organisms don't turn into one huge fu**ing blob of a monster, that crawls out the drain and tries to eat us all.

Sensible Babs told us not to be so hysterical and if it did happen, we can just point it in the direction of the neighbours and shout!....."Eat the carnys first!" Someone thought it was a good idea to replace one of the window panes in the living room with perspex, except that, it doesn't fit in the frame, so there's quite a large gap and oh! so chilly! on cold winter nights. But never fear! Babs whipped out some spongy adhesive weather sealer and plugged that gap in no time.

The ceilings all have very, very, large cracks that seem to be thinly covered with plaster and painted over- hope they don't fall down. Do I sound like I'm being picky? Babs seems to think so, and says to me..."who looks up anyway"

Not to be deterred by any of this, Babs says no job is too big and no hovel (sorry house) is beyond her magic cleaning and make over touch. So determined was Babs to make the place into something that you want to live in, she first set about establishing a nice green front lawn - frontal, visual presentation is everything, says Babs. I always have to tell inquisitive passers by that the conglomerate of stuff on the other side doesn't belong to us and we don't share the house with the residents. And that the house is divided into two separate semi's. They always seem surprised. It's particularly embarrassing because one of the carny folk has proudly put up a mannequins head on the front porch with darts sticking out of it. Babs told me that some people would kill! for installation art like that and it could act as an inexpensive deterrent.

The front and backyard was a bonus after living in an apartment. There's nothing like having grass under your feet or sitting outside enjoying a decent cuppa under the trees. But, did someone say skip?Babs needs one, because the amount of rocks, bricks, pipe and rubble she's had to digg out of the front and backyard is incredible. I think the original owners put the renovation rubble in the yard and covered it with dirt.  So in order to mow the lawn and try to stop the backyard from turning into a bogg everytime it rains, Babs started digging it all out. Of course, she can't afford a skip, so she's made piles of unusable rubble around the edges of the lawn and put some down the side of the house. You need some creativity come inspection time- Babs just tells it like it is    ...."I had to digg this sh*t out in order to mow the lawn. You can't mow the lawn if you’re constantly running over rocks and bricks can you?" Did I see broken pieces of asbestos in both our yard and underneath the fence of the neighbours who recently bought the renovated freestanding house next door?

Babs called the owner of our house to come take a look. He failed to respond to our requests until we told him that new neighbours who bought the freestanding house on the other side had kiddies that liked to play in the dirt, and we wouldn't want them eating it now would we. Before Babs and I could finish our cups of tea the owner was here and taking a look. After much ummming and ahhhing he returned from his car with a plastic bag and gloves. He kept starring at it until I asked him what his concerns were and he said, "What if it is asbestos ...well I guess your going to have to do something about it.” He carefully placed a few pieces with his gloved hands into the plastic bag and disappeared. I haven't heard from him since. Babs says asbestosis is a bunch of phoey! anyway, and was made up by the loony left and she holds ABC's Q and A entirely responsible.

The front lawn is looking much, much, better and the back is an improvement, but it never quite dries out, and we're always leaving muddy shoe prints on the kitchen lino, even with outside and inside mats. Babs told me to stop complaining and to see it as an opportunity to whip out the mop, bucket and bicarbonate floor cleaner and love that lino ‘till it sparkles. There's never a dull moment with Babs. The backyard had an out of control monstera deliciosa that was pulling down the fence, blocking out the sun, and preventing us from using a small space down the side of the house, that would make a nice place to house some pot plants. It looked like some huge jellyfish creature from the deep, with its long tentacles for roots being strained and lurching  out of the deep. It was thick and gnarly, and someone, in what can only be described as a lame and an ill thought out attempt to stop it from completely destroying the fence and taking over the neighbours yard, had propped it up with fence palings and chicken wire. 

The monstera had grown around these, and engulfed them with its thick roots. My flatmate and I stood staring at it trying to get our heads around pruning it or removing it all together, when faster than you can say leaner Babs tossed us a couple of garden shears and a tree saw. I was concerned that all of this physical activity was beginning to take its toll on my spinal disorder, but Babs wasn't having any of that it. Pish! tosh! suck it up! said Babs, no wonder your unemployed with that attitude. Do you want be a leaner all your life or do you want to be a lifter like me. All you need is a bit of grit and determination to tackle this job. 

So Babs pulled out the big guns, as quick as she can lift her hair up neatly behind her head and tuck it fashionably under her stylish sun hat.  She then quickly set about snipping off the Monstera's talons while it oozed white sticky sap. Good God! said Babs, that's ghastly! Oh look I know what I said, but we'll have it pruned back in no time. I was talking about you she said. There's no excuse for lookingy unsightly and no reason a lady shouldn't look her best when working inside and outside the house. What if you happen to get an unexpected gentleman caller said Babs?

Stay tuned for more Babaliscious cleaning and make overs for the employably challenged with the delightful Barbara Ganoush.  As seen on The Block 
...well maybe one day??

July 17, 2015

Barbie's Shark Tank [Mutual Obligations - ep 21]

So we famous five unemployables are still slowly cruising through the eighth day of Barbie's, School ofUnemployment Enjoyment...??

And having herded us into the computer area, where we are to login and compile a cold call list, all seems quite normal as usual.

As I tap away googling employment hot-spots, from the corner of my eye - I see Governor Barbie - seating herself rather cosily beside spunkster Jeremy, at a computer on the far side of the room. As you would.

No surprises, the Barbster has strategically planted herself beside her "class-pet". In fact, any closer, and she'd be practically sitting on his lap ...and having his children. At least it leaves more chairs for the other unemployables to sit on (....and the Barbster could get a Baby Bonus!) 

But actually dear reader (even though I - an uber-cougar - initially had my eye on the young spunkster Jeremy) ...just window shopping of course (I now frankly don't give a damn!)  All I want, is to do my cold call list, and get out of there ...LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL!

However, being an inquisitive, mega-menopausal dame of a certain age, I simply can't stop myself from eavesdropping on their conversation. 

Thankfully they're within easy earshot. But they're not discussing iTunes, night-spots, or the latest rave parties. It's all quite boring. And I can clearly hear Governor Barbie quizzing young Jeremy, repeatedly, on why he's had such trouble finding a job. He's a well-presented kind of a guy. Quietly spoken. Aren't we all? And has unique qualifications and skills in the digital arts. Actually, it was Eileen (the ace archer), and unofficial ASIO informer, who had previously supplied me with the young spunk's vital statistics.

I overhear the Governor Spanish-Inquisitioning him. "There must be SOMETHING you're not telling me about yourself ...something doesn't seem quite right ...there's something you're NOT telling me," She says to him. 

And I'm thinking: Please just give the kid a break. Can't you just ask him what his star sign is Barbie?

In the shark tank

Then one by one, Barbie calls each of us separately into a side office. After about an hour, I'm finally called in. She closes the door behind me. All seems normal. I proudly hand Barbie my cold-call list's a bit like handing a completed spelling test to my fifth grade teacher. 

She tells me to take a seat at a small table, and sits opposite. And she says to me, "The problem is, what I can't work out, is that you've got such a good resume."

"Why thank you!" I reply proudly.

Barbie continues, "But what's troubling is, I look at this cold call list, and I'm wondering why it took you so long to do it?"

I'm somewhat taken aback by what she says, since compiling the list was pretty basic. And it seems puzzling having her try to debate me on such a non-issue.

"You arrived at 11am, and it's now 12. So why did it take you so long?"

I don't know what to say. I had thought she was calling me into the room, so that she could go through the list (perhaps compliment me on my smart attire and snazzy earrings), and maybe provide me with useful insights and key tips, gathered from her two years work as a job-search "facilitator". Which was after-all, apparently what we famous five unemployables, were there for?

And Barbie continues, "Because you come across as so efficient by your resume, and yet W-H-Y did it take you SO LONG to compile [the cold call list]?"

I sit there bewildered. Mystified. Can't work out what she's trying to get at ...and what the length of time spent doing a cold-list has to do with ANYTHING. Particularly, from my perspective an astute woman of a certain age who knows her beans on cold-calling.

I'm feeling like I'm in the school principal's office for being disobedient in class. Actually it feels twenty times worse. Like the time I wrote ring-a-root, on our history classroom wall. And my classmates added someone's phone number underneath. After which David Taylor dobbed us in ...and when we were subsequently drilled in the head mistresses office, we all thought we were going to die, right there and then. I digress.

However, spookily, it was as if Gestapo Barbie, knew about the above incident ...? 

Did I need to make that one phone call to my lawyer?

And the Governor continues, "You don't seem to be trying've been unemployed for how long? Since 2013?"

Eating Barbie's bait

And so I tell her, "Well initially I had to stop working because I was ill .... so they [Centrelink] put me on disability. (Even though I tried to tell them that I didn't view my "rash" as a disability.) Then to improve re-employment chances, I did the obvious thing, and studied full-time to finish off a degree."

I sit there thinking we are supposed to be doing a cold call exercise, but Governor Barbie has turned it into an excruciating, suburban episode of Border Control - with Judge Judy as host (and a bit of Dr.Mehmet 
Oz thrown in). And I'm feeling like I’m - not just an innocent unemployed job seeker, in a job network agency – but also one of those suspicious inbound “foreigners”. And I'm convinced that any minute, Judge Barbie will be asking to go through my bag, searching for undeclared food products, or mummified Asian parrots.

In fact some days, I HAVE been found to be carting around a loose spud or two in my tote. However, all I currently had, was just the usual family block of Cadbury chocolate. As you do. However, I would've killed, that day, for some of Bea's weed. Whoops. Whoa! Did I just say THAT? Well actually that's not true. Can't be true. It's that HRT speaking again. Damn naughty HRT. Damn that naughty doctor who prescribed it!

Then the Governor quizzes me further. And at this stage it becomes just a little tiring and overwhelming, as she repeats, "You’ve been out of work for how long? It seems to go back one year?"

And I find myself having to re-explain to her, "Well as I said, I had to stop work because I was sick."  And I'm wondering is it time I got out a visual dictionary...and pointed to simple pictures to explain the scenario?

"Did you go to the doctor's? Did you have certificates? There should be certificates?" Says Barbie.

"Yes, it was all documented, there's photocopies," I tell her. "All on record at Centrelink and this agency. You see, that’s why I had to stop work at the time. I got a "rash". My gynaecologist took loads of snaps (with a VERY impressive lens, I might add) ....said I couldn't possibly work in that condition. And, that it was the worse case he’d seen in his 20 years of medical practice!  Evidently, quite possibly a highlight in his medical career! It’s all behind me (and him now) thankfully. But back then, the symptoms meant that I couldn’t sit down for very long." 

I'm beginning to think, do I have to order in a whiteboard and do some drawings for the Barbster? illustrate? ...or a Power Point presentation?

And I can't believe I'm having to divulge such personal confidential information to the Barbster. Yet despite my candour, it appears that dimwit Barbie doesn't believe a word of what I'm saying. (And dear reader, this is stuff that one simply couldn't make up).

And as far as I'm concerned, I'm OVER that episode of my life. More to the point, I don't want to go into any further (dead boring) detail - to young Barbie - about my particular medical history. All old news to me now ...about a situation best forgotten - which had been exacerbated by my general practitioner's initial misdiagnosis, and subsequent prescribing of inappropriate medication  - which further aggravated the symptoms (and what fresh hell was that!?)  But as they say sh*t happens.

Barbie shows no sign of empathy, understanding, or comprehension. Maybe her batteries need a recharge? Maybe her brain needed a re-boot? Maybe it was a case of too much information .....or hair peroxide? Or she needs a reverse-lobotomy?

In fact, she seems to have forgotten all about the reverse marketing theme, and cold call list - which was after all - the very purpose for which I was there.

And I thought, maybe I should get my hands on the “selfies” that my gynaecologist routinely snapped, and email them to Barbie. Maybe then she’d “GET IT”.  Alternatively, I was sure a quick google, would retrieve some comparable examples. 

Actually, bad bad BAD idea. (In fact, one could quite possibly end up in prison for downloading such images at a job network agency? However ....if I did go to prison, at least I wouldn't have to pay my stack of bills? Apologies dear reader. Boring boring detail. I digress.) 

Yet Barbie remains unsympathetic, and unconvinced of my past medical issue, and continues, "There SHOULD BE! medical certificates's not MY FAULT that I haven't SEEN the certificates. I don't have access to THAT information."

At this stage, my patience with Barbie has left the building.

I stand up. I open the door (to escape more than anything else), and ask her firmly what any of the above has got to do with reverse marketing. 
I don't care who hears me telling Barbie loudly, that she has NO IDEA what she's doing. And channelling my inner godfather (Marlon Brando version) and Roberta Williams, I tell her I refuse to put up with her SH*T any longer.

I'm then reduced to crying uncontrollably. And yes dear reader, there, on a good hair day (despite my A+ resume) - I was having a full-blown, classic midlife, midday meltdown. As you do. (But at least my outfit was coordinated!! )

From being treated like some kind of slow learner, by a job network employee half my age, my confidence and spirits are shattered.

After a lengthy debrief with the JSA agency's (mis)management team, they give me an immediate Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

And I'm told that I don't have to continue the class. No surprises there.

Who knows where Barbie ended up after that ...?

July 16, 2015

Barbie's Correctional Centre for Elite Unemployables [Mutual Obligations - ep. 20]

On day eight of Barbie's Job Readiness Boot Camp, as we famous five unemployables file into the classroom, we each separately exchange a silent nod, signalling to each other, whether or not the newly fashioned gestapo Barbie is in the building.

As yet there's no sign of her, so we gather together - safety in numbers - to debrief on events that occurred the day before ....when Barbie went all Governor Joan Ferguson on us.

We know we don't deserve the way we were treated. Because we know deep inside that we're all damn fine citizens most of us are twice, or even triple? the skinny little petulent, brat's age. However, we're still reeling from the way she spoke to us, and her rather bizarre Rules of Engagement. Getting more bizarre by the minute.

Clearly, from yesterday's events, she sees us as a bunch of totally lazy, work-shy malingerers - sucking on Australia's welfare system.

My NBF Eileen (an elite Archer mind-you!), tells me that Barbie got stuck into her yesterday, somewhat unjustifiably, merely for the "inappropriate" tone in which she was speaking to the Barbster. Such pathetic behaviour on the part of Barbie, only serves to strengthen the bonds between we famous five unemployees.

And even though I'm having a good hair day - enhanced by over-sized fake pearl earrings, carrying faux Louis Vuitton bag, wearing fuschia pink war-paint, and dressed in business black - I'm literally five minutes away from temporarily discharging myself from the detention centre. And why? ....To dash out and get a quick Mohican haircut, some nose bling and tatts (in-short, a full-blown menopausal-mature-age Mohican makeover) ....just to keep the Barbster wondering what, and who in hell, she's dealing with. 
So on this day, we knuckle down. We wait for Governor Barbie to arrive. And when she does, we all say in unison, "Goodmorning Barbie!" And then we remain silent, fearing we'll get a black mark against our name (or sent to the naughty room), lest we speak without being spoken to.

She tells us today we'll be doing reverse marketing, and sends us out to the computer area. There we're told to login, commence an online job search, and compile a cold-call list. Pretty basic stuff ...particularly for a displaced asylum-seeking, heritage-listed librarian. We digital-immigrant librarians are, after all, the truly original search engines. We knew how to Google, before Google! And unplugged! 

And reverse marketing: it isn't brain surgery

In fact, over the past year (thanks to Monsieur's ooh la la and diligent teachings), I've been doing my own, somewhat random reverse marketing (even unplugged), whenever the opportunity arises ....E-V-E-R-Y-WHERE I go.

In fact my first unique attempt at this, involved, not even moving away from my comfy sofa. It goes like this. The phone rings. It's a local real estate guy. He asks if I'm interested in selling my abode. Well no, I tell him - it's my only safe haven at the moment. And so I strike while the iron's hot, tell him I'd LOVE to get into real estate and what's he got going at HIS office for ME? I even ask if he'd take on a more mature dame of a certain age. And, "Yes," he says, "There's a place in the realtor business for women of wisdom and know-how." Gotta love a man like that. Moreover, he tells me to get an $800. Realtors' certificate under my belt, and the real estate world could be my oyster. Well actually ....I'd rather that bit wasn't true. I'd prefer a fresh calamari to an oyster any day.

I've used the same quintessential reverse marketing approach - face-to-face - in a range of places. Monsieur would be proud of me. Yet here I am - back under coercion - in the grips of Barbie and her questionable Correctional Centre for the Elite Unemployed.

But the show's not over yet least, not until this fat lady sings.


Barbie's Shark Tank - Mutual Obligations - ep 21]


Bonjour Monsieur [Obligations Mutual ep. 1]

Image: Top of post via flickr