Day: 1 trillion and fifty-six
Job rejections: Fifty billion
Outlook: Bleak, still
It's 9am. Sunshine and smiles have burned out and a shrivelled cloud of dreary rises from their ashes; a grey stench to permeate skin and spirit. It feels like my heart's been dug out from my chest with an ice-cream scoop, cold chest sewn shut with wire and barbs. Job centre day.
As usual, arrive early. Impressions count. Man with cheeks of mottled skin takes sly sips from a silver hip flask engraved with the words 'Employee of the Month.' The irony plays with my smile and loses.
The level one crowd is thicker than usual and I'm forced to stand. Woman to my left kisses her teeth. Mottled skin man tuts loudly. My foot taps a beat. An impatient chorus rises up and falls flat.
Patience not a virtue I practice, I march over to an employee whose stress is scoring red over her chest and up her neck. She sees me coming, her eyes widen and she sighs before shouting, 'Oh for heaven's sake, I can't catch a break!'
Twenty-five minutes later, still waiting. Three employees off sick and the rest have to pick up 'the slack.' Being called thus offends me. Finally my name is mumbled. The man chews gum with a slow rinse of his jaw and sighs heavily. The only thing they all do so well. 'Right,' he yawns. 'I'm gonna make this quick.' What's new?
Without a glance to my form or a care for my progress, he forces me to sign. As I tear a hole in the sheet with a blue Biro, I feel it build, a scream pinched about my throat. It's May, people. MAY! And I still don't have a job. What am I doing wrong? Why are you not helping me? Hello. Can you even see me...?
The truth hits, a raw thwack. Face burns. I'm just another name on a badly printed form. A box to be ticked, not a person to be helped. I'm a number, not a soul.
I don't like this truth. I wish today was a liar.