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I do envy people who are able to access the internet in work. I dream of the day when I can sit on various cyberspace forums, firing off invective, commenting on my favourite crisps, and asking the seemingly perennial question of "any minge". Not for me, I am afraid, as I have the worst job in the world. No, not the bloke who has to take off tramps' clobber in A&E, nor the cleaning woman who has to pick up discarded jock-straps from Premier League dressing rooms. Far worse. I am, in fact, a Civil Servant with the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP), and I have to deal with those marginalised elements of society, the so-called 'dole-ites'. Been doin' it for years, in fairness, from when we were the Department for Employment, and had 'claimants' (now called 'customers' or 'job seekers'), and the dole office smelled to fuck of stale tobacco and wet clobber (and that's just the staff). Now, like, we're called 'Job Centre Plus', and our queues have become 'one-to-one' interviews with our clients, in a plush booth, whilst fuckin' 'Supertramp' (oh, the irony) is piped out across the well-appointed building. Still, once an idle bastard always an idle bastard is what I say, and now I've served my time (32 years) on the Meseyside benefits front-line, and eventually got to 'supervisor', I don't have the daily contact with the jobless mings that I had in the halcyon days on the mid 80's, when our office resembled nothing less than a war zone. Here, then, is my all time top ten of people that I have encountered over the years. "Done any work this week, paid or unpaid"?Smack'eadCold turkeyin' like a bastard, and desparate to take his giro over to Low Hill postie and then off down Kenny for a big bag. No dosh here, though, as he's changed address and didn't let the Social know. Threats of violence and the bizzies are calledUnnervingly Friendly Gangland figure"I don't need the dough fer m'sel, lad, it's fer me bird and the kid. Ow yer doin' anyroads? 'Avin a barbie on Sundee, get yer arse down, the addy is on me file".Potentially ViolentOr 'PV' as we cunningly denoted the case file. I remember Mr X, jumping over the counter, back in '84, and lamping a clerical assistant in the kite. In fairness to me, I jumped between them, whist most of the staff, blokes included, legged it into the bogs. We had loads of 'PV', especially when I worked in Tocky and Breckie.'AR589'Don't ask me what the code meant, but it indicated just released from the nick (normally Walton). Skinny ming, 'ACAB' indian ink tats, tremblin' like a bag'ead and smoking minty rollies.CelebritiesWe seemed to get loads of them in our place. Pete Wylie, the McGann brothers, 'Our Kid' and, most tragically, a couple of ex-Everton and Liverpool players who had fallen on hard times (well before you could get brewstered by sitting in Jeff Stelling's atmospheric studio every Saturday afternoon).Fit BirdsLiverpool was teeming with them, even then, and I loved the ones who used to get dressed up just to sign on. Shit, I ended up marrying one of them!'Working and Signing'Lad, we're not all humble Civil Service farties, impartially serving the elected government of the day. I know that you're on the cabs, and don't tell me that you're in a paint-splattered boiler suit, just 'cos your doin' up your arl girl's sittin' room. Cheeky cunt.Ex member of staffNo shame. This one fatty, who lived with his ma and spent most weekends wanking on the hour, every hour, had only been creaming the system for about ten years. Hardly ever took leave, and it wasn't until his locked draw got broken into, in the search for an urgent file, that a load of snide giros, payable to him, were discovered. The tit - once he got out after a token 8 months - actually then signed on in the office he'd ripped off.School LeaversThey used to get £7.50 a week, when I had responsibility for them, and varied from the ex-Bluecoat types whose ma obviously still dressed them and waited outside whilst they signed on, to little St Georges Heights shits who wanted to know how quick it would be before they got any dough.Notorious murdererNo names, sorry, but, bloody hell, I joined the Department in '76 for a nice job as a rubber desk johnny, a la Captain Darling. This, though, readers, is what life can be like in her Majesty's Government if you get posted to the wrong organisation. And, just so my superiors know what I think, I shall dispense with my right to privacy under the Data Protection legislation, and sign-off this article with my real name. That'll show 'em.
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