Thursday, May 10, 2007

schooled for work

I won't pretend it wasn't unsettling to find myself at a job training centre at my time of life. My only past experience with employment services was hiring people from them. Now I found myself in a room with a gaggle of other clients, most of them young enough to be my grandchildren.

I find it a bit hard to explain why I felt so uncomfortable. Certainly I was outside my comfort zone -- it felt a little like being back in school, with elements of an airport waiting lounge.

One of the problems was that the class was full of all sorts of people. Some old, some young, some experienced, some newcomers. The staff weren't able to tailor their lessons to any particular level and it was difficult to work out what we were supposed to be doing.

I ended up getting most of my information from one of the older women (OK, she was probably a couple of years younger than me). She explained how things worked and showed me how to log on to the Jobsearch website, even though she'd never used a computer herself until a week ago.

She was unimpressed by the mixing of ages in the same class. "Some of us are here because we want to be here, some of us are only here because they have to be. And some of the girls...well, just let's say my daughter seems like a little angel in comparison!"

I was sorry she was leaving the next day for a job in the northern suburbs. She was a real help to me.

Six hours seemed like a long time inside that place. Staring at computer screens filled with lists of jobs, poring over pages photocopied from the newspaper classified ads, watching videos of how to behave at interviews.

I was getting a headache by the end of my first day. It didn't help that about three days beforehand I'd come down with my first head cold of the year. On Sunday, I could swear that every time I tilted my head I could sense fluid sloshing around inside my skull. Sleeping was difficult too, which doesn't help when you need to get up at dawn. In short, I wasn't at my best.

The weird part about it all is that I still get to go to my regular job two days a week -- then the other three days a week I have to make like I'm looking for work. The ways of bureaucracy can be strange.

One week down, three weeks to go.


Last Friday night the Moonah Arts Centre presented an evening guaranteed to please the nostalgic. "Broadway: Strangers in Paradise" was put on by soprano Charlotte McKercher and tenor Michael Kregor accompanied by pianist Shirley Trembath.

The songs they chose were a mix of the familiar and the obscure. They began with songs from South Pacific and My Fair Lady, and ended with Show Boat and Kismet.

In between we heard Kurt Weill songs from Lady In The Dark and Street Scene, a bracket of Stephen Sondheim songs from the 1970s and songs from musicals we'd never heard of like Jekyll And Hyde, The Secret Garden, Wonderful Town and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Great stuff - even the Sondheim songs were good and you may have noticed I'm not a fan.


The mice are still a problem in the house. One evening
recently I was walking past the sitting room and from out in the hall I could hear a ferocious gnawing sound. A few minutes searching and I discovered an Easter egg forgotten from years ago. The mouse's attempts to get through the cardboard and plastic surrounding it had resulted in an unbelievable amount of noise for such a tiny rodent.


Old Time Radio shows that I've listened to this week:
Abbott & Costello, The Whistler, Words at War, Fibber McGee & Molly, Jack Benny, The Falcon, X Minus One, Dragnet, Bill Stern's Sports Newsreel and Sherlock Holmes.

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