My First “Job” in England

After these Hasidic Jews kicked everybody out of that dump, I moved to a place in Wembley, which is in North London. The place with the Jews was also in North London but Wembley is quite a bit further north. It possibly isn’t even in London. I never really figured it out. Anyway, it was way out there. It was either in some place called Middlesex or it was on the absolute outer fringes of London.

I’d say that 90% of the people living there were South Asian. At least in the nighbourhood I was in.

I get to the new place. The flat was above a luggage shop. It was on a busy street. You had to enter through the alley. It wasn’t pleasant.

The room was pretty big, though. If a family lived in this place, it would have been the living room. I shared this place with a guy from Sri Lanka who worked as an accountant. Then there were two other Sri Lankan guys who shared a small room. There was also an empty room, again, a small room, that they were looking to let out.

I think that the main guy owned the property. Or possibly he was just the head tenant and overcharged everybody, like in previous places. But this guy also lived in the property. He had his own room. It was a small room. It was like a box room. So at least he didn’t take the big room for himself. He was also an accountant. I don’t know what the other two guys did but they weren’t accountants.

The shower didn’t work. So rather than fix the shower, they just put a small plastic bucket in the shower. The idea here is that you’re supposed to fill the bucket with water and then wash yourself with it. Okay. Well, maybe this is how they do things in Sri Lanka. I don’t want to be offensive by complaining about this. And maybe it’s just temporary.

No. I lived there for at least six months. They never fixed the shower. I bathed with a bucket of water for the entire time.

The place was infested with cockroaches. I only discovered this when I put a bag of crisps in a lower cabinet. The next day, it was FULL of holes. It was disgusting. It had like 100 holes in it. There were probably cockroaches in there when I was holding it.

I don’t recall ever seeing any cockroaches, though. I didn’t really walk around at night, though. And the mice probably kept the cockroach population down anyway. The place was also infested with mice.

The roommate was fine. I didn’t talk to him. And looking back, I know that I should have talked to him, I know that I come off like an asshole, but it’s just how I was. I was in a difficult situation in terms of employment and money and even at the best of times, I would have hated having a roommate. It was nothing against this guy. He was a pleasant person. Whatever.

They were all Buddhists. Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country. So there was a picture of the parents (or some relatives) of this guy who owned the property. The picture was high up near the entrance of the flat. And every morning, this guy would do a little silent prayer in front of this picture. It’s fine, of course, just an observation. I found it interesting.

When I would leave for my volunteer job, I’d say “see you later” to this roommate. This was basically the only time that we would talk. And he would say the same.

Then one day, after maybe three months of me living there, he said “goodbye” instead of “see you later.” I thought that that was a little weird.

I never saw him again. He moved back to Sri Lanka. He didn’t tell me and he apparently didn’t tell anyone. The guy who owned the place was really surprised. “He wouldn’t just move without telling me.” Because they would talk. The other people in the flat all talked to each other. They were friends. But I don’t know. He just moved and he didn’t tell anyone.

He left his computer. I used it for a few days, looking for work and whatnot, so I didn’t have to go to the internet cafe, but then one of the roommates came to collect it. He said that he could have it. So whatever. It was an old computer and he probably did tell him that.

I got a new roommate after this but I’ll discuss that in a future article.

So let’s try to figure out the chronology. I started a volunteer job right before I left the place with the Brazilian guys and I had this job all through the time that I was living in that Hasidic Jew place. So all of the craziness that I had to endure there was going on while I was working. The four months or whatever when I wasn’t getting any benefits so had no money coming in was all happening while I was working here. And then when I moved to Wembley, I was still working there. Nevertheless, I think that I only missed one day of work. And I called in and told them ahead of time. I think that it was around the time that I was moving to this new place, having been illegally evicted with no notice given.

I think that I was living in that Jew place for…between four and six months. But I was definitely starting the job right before I moved into the Jew place and I still was doing the job when I moved into this place in Wembley.

I don’t know at what point I stopped working there. It was maybe a month after I moved to Wembley? Something like this. So I left the job within the timeframe of the events that I described in the first half of the article.

Anyway, the job was in the national headquarters of a political party. And on the first day, a guy who I would be working with was giving me a tour of the building.

The receptionist was a gay man. SUPER gay. And he was making some kind of joke about forcible sodomy. I wish I could remember the setup or the punchline but it was some completely insane and obviously inappropriate comment. It wasn’t directed at me but joking about fucking people in the ass isn’t really what you expect to hear in a workplace. So this guy who was showing me around quickly ushered me away from him and just ignored it.

It was a data entry job. You just had to input data. The name of the person who donated, their address, and how much money they donated.

There was another American who was also volunteering. So of course, this guy introduced me to her because this is what people think. “Oh, you’re an American. You must want to talk to another American.” No, frankly I don’t give a shit. If I wanted to speak to Americans, I’d still be in America.

She was in a different department. She was 300 pounds. She was a university student. I gave an awkward “Hello” and never saw her again.

Very occasionally, I got to do something other than input data. So one time, we were setting up for some meeting and it was taking place…fuck, I don’t know. I want to say in Buckingham Palace but could that be right? It might be. It was some big regal place, in any event.

I was doing the same job as this guy who showed me around the first day as well as a few other people there. But they were getting paid. I was doing it for nothing.

No, that’s not true. I got my travel costs reimbursed. So every Friday, I’d go to the guy who controls the petty cash tin, give him my travel receipts, and he’d give me £45 or whatever.

Oh, and I was working there five days a week, eight hours a day.

One of the people working there was a middle aged black guy. He was doing the same job I was doing, but he was getting paid. And he said, “You don’t have to sit there all day like you’re chained to the desk. You can get up whenever you want and walk around.”

But I don’t do that. When I go to work, I’m there to work. I’m not there to socialise, I’m not there to have a good time, I’m not there to take in the sights. I’m working straight out from 9.00 to 5.00, with the only break being for lunch. I don’t work during lunch.

They don’t like this in the UK. That’s one of the reasons why I had such a problem finding work. They’re looking for somebody fun to have around the office.

Compare this with the relative ease that I had finding work in the US. Employers in the US love drones like me who just sit there and do the work all day. They’re interested in productivity in the US. Not having a good time at work.

Let’s talk about the other volunteers.

There was an old man. He’d come in once or twice a week. Then he stopped coming in. He had a health problem or maybe he died.

There was a university student. He had autism or something. I don’t say this as an insult or speculating in any way. He very clearly had a neurological condition. He behaved in an odd fashion. He was really interested in the work and the politics. But then one day they told him not to come in any more because he said something to a girl that he knew. She was a member of this party and he saw her information on the database that we worked on. So he said, “Oh, I know where you live now” or something. It wasn’t as sinister as that, but it was some weird shit. So she was afraid and she filed a complaint and they had to fire this guy.

Then towards the end of my run, there was a guy about my age who started volunteering. And he was obviously looking for a paid job there. Always kissing everybody’s ass. Trying to get in with everyone. And it visibly annoyed the other people.

But this is what volunteering, at least for many people, in many sectors, is all about. It’s desperate people who are hoping to get a paying job out of this volunteer work. And these organisations prey on this.

Then one day, I was told that there’s an opening in the call centre. It was a paying job. And I was asked if I want to speak to the managers there. I said that I would.

Call centre is not a job that I wanted to do. I’m not good on phones. I’m not good with speaking to people. But it’s a job, I needed money, let’s try it out.

So I went down and spoke to these two guys. They were about my age. They were the managers of this department. And they’re just talking to me. It wasn’t really an interview. I didn’t take it that way, at least.

Then they asked if I wanted to do a practice call. I said okay.

They gave me a script. In the other room was one of the managers. The phone rang. It was the manager. He said whatever. I read from the script. The call ended.

So that’s it. They said that they’d let me know tomorrow.

Next day, this guy who showed me around on the first day asked how the interview went. I said that they said that they’d let me know tomorrow. He said that that didn’t sound good. Indeed.

So he went to speak to these guys. Presumably, he went there to put a good word in for me. Because I was excellent. I was the best worker that they had there. I was fanatical about working. I did more work than anyone there. Everybody knew it.

And I didn’t ask about this call centre job. They came to me. And they didn’t go to that fucking kiss ass who was doing his best at trying to get a job there. They referred me for the job because they knew that I was the world’s greatest worker.

The guy comes back and says that they said I did a good job on the practice phone call but they’re still not sure.

Later on, these two managers come by. They ask to speak to me. I got out in the hallway and they say, “We just don’t feel like we got to know you.” I said, “What are you talking about? I’m right here. You can ask whatever you want.” They said no, we’re just not going to give you the job.

Too quiet and won’t fit in. The same shit that I heard at every job interview that I had both in Dublin and London. In spite of the fact that I had been working at this place for three months already and yes I’m quiet but I fit in just fine. It’s not a fucking problem. We’re here to work. Not to make friends. This isn’t fucking high school.

So I go back to this guy who showed me around on the first day, tell him what happened, and he was disappointed. I told him that I’m leaving and I’m not coming back any more but would he be willing to give me a reference. He said that he would.

He was true to his word and this closed the chapter on this whole reference bullshit. No longer would I be unable to find a job because I don’t have a reference. Now I just had to find a job where being “too quiet” and “not fitting in” wouldn’t be an obstacle.

I was in the country for about two years at this point. I don’t know if that checks out with the times I’ve given for how long I’ve stayed in various places. But I know that it was two years before I found a paying job in the UK. And I got a paying job, of sorts, shortly after this because I had the reference now.

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