03 July 2006

Early Start

Today was the longest and strangest day of the project so far. The first day I'd made a concerted effort to find work at all costs. I found it impossible to sleep the night before in anticipation of my early morning visit to Labour Ready. I dozed off eventually at around 4:00 only to be woken by my alarm clock at 5:00. I got dressed and went straight to Labour Ready, being only the second person to 'sign in' that morning at around 5:45.

I then waited and waited, sitting on a grubby yet comfy sofa that looked distinctly as though it had been rescued from a skip. Almost two hours passed. I then went and asked Alan whether he thought it was worth me waiting any longer. He said that today was abnormally quiet and that I should probably just go home - he would call me if anything came up. So straight home I went and got straight back into bed. I slept for about three hours hoping that Alan would not call and disturb my rest.

I woke at 10:30 on a mission. I was fuzzy-headed, but I realised now that Labour Ready didn't provide the golden ticket to employment that I had imagined. I now had to find work elsewhere, as quickly as possible. I grabbed the Yellow Pages and went through the whole Recruitment section. I made a list of five suitable agencies and then proceeded to call them all.

The first, Express Recruitment, was no use as they said the looked for five month minimum contracts, which was far too long for my needs. The second Barker Ross Recruitment were friendly and well organised, they asked if I could come in for an interview later that day. I said 'yes!' and the appointment was made for 14:30.

The next three Thorn Baker, Wheatcroft Sims and Key Personnel were also helpful. They each asked me to email my CV to them and said they would be in touch with me in due course.

Later that day I spoke to my friend Jeanie, who on hearing how desperate I was to find work told me that a friend of hers, Paul, owned a shop called Luna and was looking for part-time staff. I called Paul straight away, but unfortunately the position had already been filled.

Out of the blue, my phone went a 12:20. It was Alan from Labour Ready; he had a job for me! The problem was it started at 12:30 at Siemens in Wollaton. I wasn't sure what I would have been doing, but just my luck I now had my interview with Barker Ross arranged so reluctantly I had to turn it down.

I went along to Barker Ross wearing 'my skirt' and a black top, with flip-flops (smart-casual for me). When I arrived I was given forms to complete by a rotund lady with a mouthpiece phone headset installed behind her ear. The forms took around half-an-hour to complete. I panicked that they might call Steven, my reference on my CV so I texted to warn him. I went in for my interview at 15:00 with a woman called Naj. For some unknown reason, she took an instant liking to me - quite unheard of in a job-seeking / interview type situation.

I was honest with her from the start (which I think helped). I told her I was self-employed as an artist and was looking for some extra work over the summer (almost true). She said 'wow' to that and told me that I really reminded her of a friend of hers who was also an artist. Apparently we had the same 'aura'. I then began to reel off the long list of all the computer programs I could use and she was very impressed.

She stood up and said 'I'm not going to interview you anymore - I'll put you at the top of my list'. This cheered me up no end. However, as I left the building I couldn't help but think that maybe she says that to everyone she interviews. When I got home it was not long before I had to leave to meet Joanna who was coming to stay in Nottingham for the night, before she went down to London and caught her plane back to New York.

I picked Joanna up from the station at 17:30, we came home and had a curry, prepared by Jon, before going out for a walk around the local area and then into town. We had a pint of Guinness at the Pitcher and Piano (the pub in a church where I always take visitors), then went home to bed. It was great to spend time with Joanna; she was very supportive and helpful. She could actually empathise with what I was going through because she had just experienced her own version of 'Part-time' in Blackpool. We spent a lot of time discussing the trying process of finding work and its significance as part of the project.

We also discussed our yet unnamed union and how to best action ours and Liz's plan to unionise.