Situation Wanted

21 May 2014 Todd Chesterman

Situation Wanted

Todd Chesterman, Ed#456, April 2014

A Day in Todd Chesterman’s Life

Waking up at dawn, my first thought is, “I wish I was dead!” My second thought is the same. Just like every morning.

After half an hour or so of straightening my body enough to make it out of bed, I head to the kitchen to see if I have any coffee left.

The ‘Wanted’ section in the morning paper is the usual short list of jobs I don’t have a chance of getting. So it’s onto the pushie for the 15km-ride to the job centre. At least it’s not raining.

The job board’s about a week out of date and I’ve applied for all the jobs that seem even remotely possible. Hey wait, some conman’s offering $5 per hour for 20 hours a week. What an opportunity! If I could work an extra 200-300 hours each week I could almost afford to live. I might even be able to move out of this two-bit town. Of course, it wouldn’t be Hell if there was a way out.

I read the paper, again, while I wait the required hour to see if any of the pencil-necked jerks who work here can finish up with gossiping and net-surfing long enough to keep their end of this appointment.

In the paper today… The government tries to decide how many more billions they should hand to foreign car makers, since the billions they’ve already given failed to stop them closing their factories. Capitalism at work, people. Meanwhile, it seems a couple of dodgy businessmen who won their appeals after making off with a few hundred retirees’ life savings have had reason to start popping champagne corks in Macquarie St.

The paper’s letters page has the usual suspects writing in to whinge about dole bludgers and boat people. Why do these dipsticks always blame the least powerful people for the way things are? As if we’re the ones making all the decisions.

There’s also an article about someone from a mining company who says it has to import foreign workers to work for big money in the outback. Some of the jobs mentioned are ones for which I am qualified, so I give the HR department a call just to let them know that there is at least one local who can do their work. All I need is a chance. But no. It turns out that it may be just another lie to get a government handout. No wonder they can’t afford to pay tax.

My 30-second interview over, I try to upload a resumé to the council’s job site. After a frustrating hour or so (what does ‘Wrong Format’ even mean?), I’m ready for lunch. Well, a couple of hours’ worth of busking with my guitar so that I can actually buy lunch…but that’s okay. Being spat on by sour-faced pedestrians is what I like to call “my social time”. The sub sandwich makes it all worthwhile.

The TV in the mall has a politician explaining that dole bludgers are too expensive and must be made to “verk”. I nearly snort lemonade out my nose. Hilarious. This is a guy whose costs are paid for by the taxpayer every year and yet he can’t even be bothered turning up to parliament every day. They should stop his payments for six weeks every time he wags work. Let him busk for lunch.

My daughter rings to ask if she can spend the weekend with me. It’s always hard to explain to her that I can only afford to have her for one week per fortnight, and then only if things are going okay. Poor little thing, she doesn’t really understand. I can hear it in her voice. I’ll make it up to her, somehow. I will…

Bike back home and do a few chores. Wait till the flatmate has killed enough zombies so I can check my emails. Surprise, surprise, no replies to my job applications. I log off and cook some baked beans.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” my flatmate enquires. I laugh for a few minutes.

He always knows how to make me laugh.

The evening news shows some desperate, hungry and anxious “boat” people being forcibly towed away from the lucky country.

Maybe they’re the lucky ones, I think as I drift off to sleep on the sofa.

Well, tomorrow’s another day.

Or maybe another one just like today. And yesterday.


» Todd Chesterman lives in northern NSW. He is still unemployed, but is trying to get into a TAFE course.

This article first appeared in Ed#456 of The Big Issue magazine.