Be a winner – survival strategies – and why the best survival strategy is to profit from your plight
Image by Julian Partridge
So they’ve forced you into a corner!
You hate it. You didn’t ask to be here. It’s not your fault. You don’t want to be here.
And now there’s no way but ALL THEIR WAY. You’re trapped. And they’re loving to see you squirm!
What do you do?
This situation occurs often in business.
I remember one case where I was helping a family pharmacy chain to develop standard operating procedures to become compliant to a new industry regulation.
They had seen this requirement as a cost burden; an imposition; more red tape from Brussels.
And to do it, it had pushed them to employ a skillset that they just didn’t have. [Designing slick processes and writing effective procedure documents, and integrating them into your daily routines and systems is not a pharmacist's job. No pharmacy can afford it as a permanent overhead. And it's a skillset in short supply.]
So they’d have to call in the consultants: and we all know what an expensive and humiliating ordeal that can be!!
‘But: wait a minute! Since you are investing so much time and energy into improving your core business methods, why not take this opportunity to root-out some nagging cost issues at the same time!’, I’d advised [as their wannabe pricey consultant]. And even: ‘Why not innovate some new lines of money-making activity while you’re at it!’ I encouraged.
You can do it cheap – rough out a few docs that’ll get u thru your next audit; you can do it expensive, and employ a SOP process-writing consultant to make a gold-plated manual for you (but nothing more)… ‘But why not profit from it instead?’ I’d said!
Well the same is now absolutely true for me, as a newly failed business of size:1, niw rediculously stuck – against my will – into the govt’s brilliantly conceived Work Programme because I’m claiming JSA [after a long period of homelessness that crippled my ability to get or create a job of any kind].
[Yes: I am being sarcastic - poor man's wit. No apology.]
Their ‘advice’ I clearly don’t need. And each ‘coaching’ meeting to ‘help’ me, is a long bus ride away: time I can much better use if left to my own devices.
But it’s the humiliation that’s knocking me for six – it’s been doing this to me time and time again in this whole new benefits-taking saga of mine ever since my business failed.
Every govt ‘welfare’ interventon has been destructive to me [except the ones when I actually get my hands on my £146 per week food and rent money of course - unfortunately for us all, I really need that!].
The whole damn process is unfit.
Beyond just being laboured, cripplingly slow, and terribly error prone. It’s ignorant, demeaning, threatening ["turn-up or we'll sanction you" on every communication] and gallingly negative. You’re a workshy guilty-until-proven-innocent layabout at every step.
And the WP coach – an unqualified kid dragged off the street to form this opportunistic public ‘service’ [same age as my son] – is just quoting blindly from a boilerplate work programme coaching cheat sheet: "Just think, Mr Partridge" he ‘motivates’, inappropriately, "wouldn’t you feel *so much better* with a job this christmas!?" [Of course I bloody would - and I'd feel even better if you'd stop being so condescending and take the trouble to actually *ask* me what help I really need before wading in with your false presumptions!]
It’s definately not the #1 promise: "Respect"; the jobcentre’s customer service guarantee they wave at you from their motivational poster wall [the one behind the security guard at the welcome desk].
[I actually understand it all now, after so many frustrations: this service has actually been *designed* to be this unpleasant! "Brutal" my WP office manager called it.]
Thing is: it’s also self-defeating and a waste of your [and my] taxes.
A £2,500 bonus my WP coaching org – a new business earner setup within a large local charity – will get if (when) I get paid work… And they won’t have done a single thing for it! If they were truly givng me a service I could profit by, then great: I’d gladly see them paid, handsomly. But this is just corrupt.
"Do as your told, and you’ve got nothing to fear!" I hear someone say!?
Well I did that too, before, see, and a malicious – my considered opinion – female JSA sign-on supervisor in St Austell blocked me from signing on, just to force me to submit to her will [this act of her's was illegal: but I now see that too much power in the wrong hands - especially smallminded, mean hands hidden way down in massive public organisations - is a very dangerous thing indeed!].
You see she had the unfettered absolute power to starve me; and she wasn’t in the least bothered if she used it: seemed to be quite enjoying doing it to me, actually!
This little upset I was not at all prepared for!
I’d only just become [precariously] re-housed and, still stinging from many similar mistreatments, this one hit me like a train…
I left that office, after appealing to deaf ears, in a daze. Nearly got run down in the street. I was outraged, trembling, trapped: I was to starve unless I did what *she* wanted.
My wishes counted for nothing.
Well I returned the next day determined to get my now overdue money, whatever their price!
And I finally got to see the office manager – another female [female team bullying of unemployed men is a serious issue in many public welfare offices I now observe] – and I complained but despite their obvious and admitted cockup, I got nowhere except for an empty apology and, aparently, a blatent lie – another fact-checked opinion I hold to be true – to cover-up for her terrible staff behaviour and hide that my claim was in fact still valid and payable with no further action necessary.
So I was still forced to do the lovely supervisor’s bidding. The whole office had ganged-up and closed ranks on me. It was bullying, pure and simple. A perfect Big Brother scenario.
Well! I had no choice, did I?!
So I did their bidding, and then the JSA ‘advisor’ kindly pressed the release key on her computer so I could finally get my last 2 weeks food money so I could now look forward to eating for the next 2 weeks again…
Lucky me! I’m still surviving!
[I signed-off JSA in disgust immediately after that, in total meltdown. I couldn't stand this treatment. I quit my room and left Cornwall, and just wandered anywhere. It really felt like the end.]
[Even a strong intelligent man can take just so much bullying!]
I now understand what ‘freedom’ really means, and why people in the USA treasure it so strongly.
So I’ve got an emotional sunburn to being disrespected and negatively scrutinised now. And I’m still vulnerable and unwaged.
Then [over a year later]: more jobcentre humiliation [I had restarted claiming JSA some 2 weeks after that bullying incident - absolutely couldn't survive without]:
This christmas I was sent to a remedial Work Programme coaching ‘service’ against my will [another reputation smasher] and I’m now trying to get a balanced mind on all this…
You see, my private and confidential life, my CV, my family, my personal issues, my most pressing barriers, my business interests are just that: private and confidential!
So why in hell do I have to be treated like a war criminal, and be forced to lay all this bare, just because I’m claiming on my National Insurance policy!?? This is not Britain, is it!?
I’d tried desperately to find a job before being summoned to this programme – I knew it was coming. But I’d failed. And I hated being a failure, still.
And I’d tried to engage with the programme positively since but it started inapproproately right from the word Go.
I’d discussed my situation with them and we’d had a very good meeting where we’d all agreed they couldn’t help me on their scheme [I'd already made a CV - several - and had already an agent, and I'd a systematic jobsearch process and I was intensively developing self-employment business, and I knew what self-employment looked like so I didn't need the govt's expensive self-employment motivational course, thx, and I *was* doing the minimum 2 positive jobsearch steps per week required by law for my JSA money - 5 days solid development work, actually, including voluntary business coaching (inc researching and writing for this feed) - and the JSA ladies continue to scrutinise me every 2 weeks anyway, so you don't have to too, ta very much!]…
And then, just when I was getting back down to work after this last frustrating and time wasting meeting with them: BANG!! I get another WP summons: "Turn up on 22 Feb at 1015 for a progress report [or we'll starve you]".
The blood starts to boil. The hands start to tremble uncontrollably. My mind goes haywire – hours go by in a daze… It’s Julian’s PTBD (post traumatic benefits disorder) meltdown #42…
Then, a few frantic sleepless nights later, I saw this on #CBB [yes: my new landlord has a TV that I can watch too - lucky me!]:
"Turn that frown upside down" — Rylan [a bit tipsey on BBs cider ration], to Heidi who was looking very glum being forced to live in the dorm with all the others again.
"If you’re not going to walk out you might as well make the best of it" — Rylan, to Heidi who was having another freedom-denial meltdown of her own making.
"The safety" — Rylan, talking to Tricia on what he’ll miss the most when he gets out (after being bullied all his life and now again everywhere he goes as a newbe celeb).
And then this:
"Whatever stick gets thrown at ya, get over it and just be yourself cos you’ll always end up on top in the end" — Rylan on what he’s learnt as he’s now CBB 2013 Winner.
*** I really *like* Rylan!
And now, this afternoon, half watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade from the safety of my landlord’s living room while working on this and that – and now particularly this piece for some hours now:
The treasure thief takes the gold cross back from young Indy, putting his hat-of-destiny on Indy, as a consolation prize. To Indy: "You lost today, kid, but you don’t have to like it"
No, I agree: I don’t have to like it!
But I’m going to do just what they require of me anyway! [No choice; gotta eat to be able to seek work!]
That would be me doing it on the cheap.
But I’m also going to do more!
I’m going to go to all these summons meetings with no fuss, but I’m going to ask for EXACTLY what *I* need to help *me* in *my* circumstances at every one. I’m going to make them work for *me*.
And if [when] they refuse me, I’m not going to divulge all my personal affairs just to make a humiliating but compelling appeal, however valid [that would be far too high a price!] No: I’m going to do it smarter than that!
I going to say: fine, have it your way. But I’m going to *learn* from this experience at the same time [I have a feeling I will profit by it - and it is bound to be a profit I can share with you too!].
So I’m going to see this all through, warts and all, right to the end!
This is an opportunity – not a curse.
I *am* – still – free.
[But just don't keep pushing me, David!]