Ruan had his usual 9 A.M. visit to the Conor Building to sign on, Tuesday morning. His advisor clerk this time was the very abusive, officious person that he had seen about a year ago, a Jolly Maleficent in manner.

He had waited 10 minutes (unusual) for his number to be called and was sent to Booth #19 at the very far end of the floor (again unusual) where #19 was and angled next to it was the person that had been his most recent advisor for several visits until he was informed that he would be seeing a new one. His former advisor was only a couple of yards from #19 and had no clients for the duration of Ruan’s visit.

Ruan sat down  and within moments the person he was seeing was loudly and aggressively questioning him (I had moved down almost behind him immediately and was unseen by him or his advisor). The questions were sharp: had he done this, had he done that, why hadn’t he done something else (he had; it was assumed he hadn’t). The verbiage of inquiry crossed the border of official bureaucratic questioning and was abusive and bullying again.

The advisor arose suddenly to ask a question of Ruan’s new advisor to be at another booth, pertaining to his new agreed upon self-employment status, looked across, saw me, did a very visible double-take and returned to Booth #19. In her following questions she lowered her voice considerably but I still managed to hear everything.

Ruan’s visit was, in addition to signing on, concerned with his new status of being self-employed. This was completely new to the person whom he was speaking with as nothing was recorded anywhere, least of all on the computer on his file. There was no record of his May 22, 2014, Thursday visit with the person in the next booth which had been a satisfactory 35 minute discussion on self-employment.

There was no record of a further visit on Friday, July 25, 2014 at 12.20 to continue to explore further details of self-employment with the former advisor. There was also no record of a third visit on Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 11.15 (following earlier visit that morning at 9 A.M. to sign on) with a new advisor. A subsequent meeting was planned for a fortnight later but did not evolve.

Ruan was subsequently informed that he would be hearing from his new advisor and he must keep his phone (mobile) on at all time. He was ordered to do this and it was impressed upon him that he comply totally. When asking what he should do when he went to the bathroom, i.e. toilet he was told he must not miss the call even though Ruan informed the advisor that he did have a message service on his phone.

The call came about 36 hours later to let him know that there would be a delay on the next advisory meeting. The advisor refused to signature his signing-on form, saying it was unnecessary nor was she interested in any details of job searches.

If someone has worked from an early age, working for their father part time from the age of 11, in addition at 14 finding their own self employment part time, while being an A student at school, earning their allowance, in later life periods holding sometimes 3 positions  simultaneously, able to do that also in foreign countries to make ends meet I believe  there is an inherent work ethic well established.

Modest respect for the individual perhaps coupled with awareness would, I believe, be in order from any source especially government when legislated to guide and facilitate.

Following the fortnightly debacle we dutifully went to the Job Fair, our third Job Fair in 3 years so that Ruan  can keep looking for jobs even though  he is now in the self employed category. Without going into too much detail, at the Fair he took his Business Plan and C.V. to the Prince’s Trust stand. He asked if they would be kind enough to cast their eye over it and give their opinion on his 4th draft. They asked him how old he was.

He politely replied 50. The young man in his 20’s didn’t stand up, didn’t shake his hand, didn’t smile, didn’t take his documents, simply sneered and said he was too old. “We only look at business plans for people in the age group 18 to 30”.

If anyone is interested, which I am sure they are not, his Business Plan and idea is to set up a company called ‘Imaginarium‘; with a simple premises comprising an art gallery with my paintings and that of others in it together with a psychic reading room/psychic healing practice. As everybody knows I’m an artist and have done some research work of my own in Belfast and know that it is crying out for a good new art gallery.

Psychic readings have always been popular as an entertainment and I too could act as a foil and back-up to the art gallery. So why all the resistance? Why all the humiliation? Why all the prevaricating? Why so much strange behavior from so many strange people in an employment office? What is going on?

More to follow-including character portraits of the protagonists.