Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Healthy And Safe, But Illogical.

I tried this in my stand-up a couple of times, but it never really worked. I might try something different with it and use it again, but until that time, here it is.

I used to sign on in Govan, at the Jobcentre. They have jumped-up bouncers on the door, and there is very little more gratifying than going in for your appointment and seeing that one of them is sporting a fresh black eye. Heartening to know that somebody punched him.

They would demand to see my broo cards every fortnight, as if I had wandered in for the good of my health.

“What you in for?” they’d ask.
“Here to sign on,” I said, heading for the door that led me upstairs.
“Got your cards?”
“How, do you not believe me??”

The best bit was when they looked at your cards, looked at the clock, then delighted in informing you that you were late. Fucking later now thanks to you, ya prick.

I got stopped one week for having my ipod on. I listened to music on the half hour walk in, planning to remove the earbuds on my way upstairs. I didn’t make it that far.

“Need to take your earphones out,” I was told.
“Why?” I asked, reasonably enough. What did it matter to him?
“Health and Safety.”

Health and Safety. You can’t just give me those three words as a catch-all, an easy way to dismiss any query out of hand. I questioned it. He told me that it was “in case there is a fire alarm.”

Firstly, I’m fairly certain that fire alarms are designed to be noticeable – most that I have encountered involve loud and piercing sirens, pitched high enough to cut through any ambient noise. My ipod-supplied headphones were unlikely to drown out the urgent screech of a fire alarm.

Secondly, presuming that I was somehow oblivious to the noise, I’d like to think that – standing at a Job Point or waiting to be seen – if everyone else in the place suddenly stopped what they were doing, looked up, and then started heading for the exits; if they were being shepherded out by the office staff and security guards; I’d like to think that I might notice that, and follow suit. At the very least, I place faith in my curiosity and ability to speak that I would think to ask somebody what was happening.

Although, in order to ask them, I daresay that – removing my earphones – I would notice that my words were being drowned out by a fierce and loud piercing alarm.

With patronising logic like that, no wonder someone blackened his eye.



6 responses

  1. Marion

    My Jobcentre stories have similar wtf? qualities about them, this one is the tale of the unwanted hat and the evil water. I walked, and with every step died a little, to the jobcentre on a classic, freezing and wet Glasgow winter’s day. I had the flu and was visibly/audibly ill, so I was wrapped up with a woollen hat/scarf combo and had a small bottle of water with me, little did I know the problems this would later cause.

    I walked in and showed my card for the degrading ritual of signing on, upon this I was told to remove my hat and that water wasn’t allowed there by the “Guardian” (Yes, that’s what they call them, I wasn’t aware that I had strolled in to an RPG).

    I looked at the guy and asked “What?” in a shocked/you’re joking tone. He said it was because of the cameras for the hat (the hat that did not obscure my face at all), but no explanation was given for the CLEARLY labelled Evian bottle I took a sip from when I walked in, of course it must have been acid or the petrol I was going to use to destroy the place, that I just drank…

    I put my bottle in my pocket, which I always did when I got there before without incident, but said that I wasn’t taking my hat off because I was ill, cold and had hat hair, but for some reason, the security guy didn’t understand this concept of staying warm and hydrated when you’re ill, training must have skipped that.

    This tedious debate went back and forth for a few minutes until I lifted my hat a little, turned around to make sure every camera saw me and then sat down. My hat remained firmly on my head.

    It was a small victory, but a victory none the less.

    May 5, 2012 at 5:10 am

    • I got told off for taking a bottle of water into the Partick broo when I was signing on there. It must have been summer, or sunny at least, because I don’t usually have a bottle with me.

      They explained their No Liquids policy, and they ban water because it might be vodka. I thanked them for the aspersions cast, and assured them that I’m not given to drinking neat vodka. Not in the evening, and certainly not before noon.

      May 6, 2012 at 3:35 am

  2. Marion

    I saw a delightful ned bringing in a bottle of Buckfast, bold as brass, and equally pished, all at the “Mad wi it” hour of 2.30 pm. He was shocked and started arguing when he was told he couldn’t drink that on the premises. Reprobate.

    May 6, 2012 at 3:58 am

  3. I met a ned on the bus once who was drinking at 9am “for something to do” – but that’s a story that IS going into my stand-up. I told it while compering last week, and it needs work, but it’s got definite potential. Unlike people who drink on buses at 9am.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:21 am

  4. Marion

    I’ll see your 9am and lower you to 8am, yes, 3 neds drinking a bottle of Frosty Jack’s on the Monday morning bus, 2 of them were rather vicious nedettes, I hope they died.

    May 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

  5. Kevin

    I remember being told to get out of the Job Centre as I had a sealed bottle of Pepsi with me. I was told the reason was ‘no drinking’ in JCP – I explained it wasn’t opened and I wouldn’t be drinking it until I had finished signing on. I was told I was being arguementative and to throw the drink away/or drink it or be denied signing on.

    I ascertained that the best solution was to nip across the road and get a carrier bag. With the addition of the carrier bag I was allowed in…. There you go, bring whatever you like in but put it in a flimsy carrier bag and all will be fine. Great logic that.

    January 24, 2014 at 11:20 am

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