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Cimorene ([personal profile] cimorene) wrote2014-10-07 12:46 pm

long-term unemployed and hating it & BUREAUCRACY

I'm 31 and have never had what I consider a real job. In my entire life, starting over 15 years ago, I have earned salary for: (1) weekend childcare at my church in high school, (2) a summer + (3) ~5 months while planning/waiting to move to Finland in retail, (4) 3 weeks as a substitute cleaner in a daycare 5 years ago, and (5) freelance translating (but the total money involved was very little).

The rest of my life in between those events can be filled in with a combination of school enrolment and depressed/anxious breakdowns.

This summer it came to pass that [personal profile] waxjism and I were both simultaneously ~1 semester from finishing the certifications we were pursuing but could no longer pay the bills on two student stipends, so we decided to both put them off for a year or two to work. She found some quickly thanks to her superior language skills (making car checkup bookings in a call center serving Sweden). I was an anxious mess and my psychologist suggested that I contact the friendly social worker I met once before who is tasked with helping people with mental health reasons to have difficulty with jobseeking, so I did.

The very nice social worker went over the whole situation with me, asked a few questions, called social security to check the details of my account and told me several pertinent facts:

  1. To stop angsting that my Finnish skills are inadequate for retail, because my communication is fine for not only ordinary conversation, but even communicating complex ideas verbally. My fears about not understanding a word uttered by someone who speaks a weird dialect are legit, but some dialects are incomprehensible to anyone but a native speaker anyway, and everyone knows this.


  2. My ambition to work (after I finish my certification that I can't complete until after getting some gainful employment and saving some money) in so-called morning and daytime childcare (after-school programs) is good in the sense that they've just recently been made public, obligating the city to provide them, and there's a desperate lack of staff for them. But it's bad in the sense that thanks to simultaneous budget cutbacks all the providers who are desperately asking the city for more staff are denied, so they aren't allowed to actually hire any staff. HAH HAH. Her office, which works with employers as well as jobseekers who have problems, has been fielding a lot of calls from them recently.


  3. She's technically not supposed to help me because TECHNICALLY I'm not long-term unemployed, and their center is supposed to serve people who are long-term unemployed - not that she will let that stop her from advising me if I need it. ("You're not long-term unemployed, you've just been without employment for a long time" = "They're not anxiety attacks, they're just attacks of acute anxiety"???)

    Being a student doesn't count as being unemployed, so all the times when I've been studying anything are off the table - I've only been unemployed... I forget what she said, but a really tiny number of days compared to the official cutoff (which is a thousand plus I think), according to social security's records.


  4. But pursuant to #3, the help that I actually need is meant to be provided by the employment bureau itself. They don't offer it to you, though, you have to know that you have to request it. So with my agreement, she wrote down on a sticky note exactly what I needed to request... in order to do this, she went to the employment bureau's official site to get the correct name.

    And she couldn't find it. She spent like 5 minutes clicking around making increasingly annoyed murmurs and finally found the name, not anywhere on the employment bureau's site... but with Google.


So, armed with my sticky note and tasked to update her with an email when I knew whether they would be able to help me, I walked down the block to the employment bureau.

So when you get to the employment bureau you wait in line at the Info desk, who then directs you.

ME: Hi, I need Job-Seeking Support Program so how do I -
INFO LADY: Haha, slow down there! SSN?
ME: (hands over social security card)
INFO LADY: Here's your queue number. Second floor!
ME: Uh, thanks.


I go to the second floor and the little queue machine lights up with my number within a minute (fastest service I've ever seen there, I admit). I hand over my ss card as per usual and the funny little dude brings up my file.

ME: Hi, I need the Job-Seeking Support Program or the Other Job-Seeking Support Program. I saw a social worker today and she gave me these names to request.
DUDE: Uh-huh. Well, I'll put a note in your file and send it to your case-worker.
ME: Uh... I have a case-worker?
DUDE: Haha, of course you do! Everyone has a case-worker!
ME: But when did I get a case-worker? My last visit I was sent back to Introductory Services because I hadn't been here in such a long time.
DUDE: Yep, I see. You saw (name) on (date), but he's not your case-worker. See? [SPINS MONITOR TO SHOW ME MY FILE] That's their name!
ME: Oh... I... don't think I remember that name... I... don't think I've ever met them...?
DUDE: Haha, of course you haven't met them!
ME: o_O???
DUDE: So, I'll just write a note here in your file that you request these services and send it to them. Then it will be their responsibility to talk to you about it and handle the request. There probably won't be a problem, but they'll contact you.
ME: Do I need some contact information, or a time period to call back - like, say, if I haven't heard from them within a week?
DUDE: No, no, see, I'll check and make sure for you that they're not on vacation - [HE PULLS A BIG CHART OF NAMES MADE OUT OF COLORED PAPER FROM BESIDE HIS ELBOW AND SKIMS DOWN IT] - no, they're not on vacation or anything, they're at work this week, so there will be no problem about them contacting you.
ME: They'll definitely contact me?
DUDE: They'll definitely contact you! Don't worry about it!
ME: ...Okay.


So as a result of this I've been answering my phone in Finnish since yesterday, as if my mysterious case-worker calls I want the conversation to start in Finnish with no awkwardness.

Normally I answer the phone in English because 90% of the phonecalls I get that aren't [personal profile] waxjism's family are telemarketers, and answering in English basically guarantees that they don't even want to try with me. They typically stutter audibly and ask if I'm me then hang up, or a little less than half the time, ask cautiously if my Finnish isn't that great and I pretend it's quite bad and then they apologize in a confused rush and hang up.

So yesterday I talked to two telemarketers (although it only took a couple more sentences to put them off, because I couldn't understand one guy's accent and the other one was looking to sell things for dudes only).

Hoping to hear from the case-worker before I get trapped in a longer conversation with one.

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