Wednesday. No spectacular sunrise this morning: my beloved Dundee sky is cloudy, interspersed with patches of murky blue-grey. For a change, I did not awaken early – I had a good night’s sleep, untroubled by anxiety and nightmare dreams of sleeping on the street. This is probably down to something nice which happened to me yesterday, which I’ll get to in a bit.
I’ve entered my seventh week of being unemployed and on benefits. Thankfully, I was awarded the full council tax and housing benefit, so maybe those dreams of living on the street will stop now. I’ve spoken with all my creditors, who – surprisingly – have been very kind and have agreed to put my various accounts on hold for the next month.
I’ve submitted 41 job applications since I was made redundant, and – I admit it – cried over the 17 “you’ve been unsuccessful on this occasion” letters/emails I’ve received. I’ve been on six job interviews since November 1st, and I’m certain I’ll be attending more, as the closing dates for some of the applications I’ve submitted have not yet arrived. So although some days are harder than others, I keep filling out those applications, praying, and trying my hardest to remain positive.
My sixth interview was yesterday. It was a panel interview with a company I’m familiar with and would love to work for. It’s not a permanent post, just an 18-month contract, but I’m cool with that. The day before the interview I did my hair and nails, and got my eyebrows done, raiding my holiday jar for the £7.99 – the holiday jar is something my boyfriend and I put all our spare change into so we’ll have extra money for our summer hols – and thank God for that jar, because it’s also been providing me with bus fare so I can go on interviews. I ironed the outfit I planned to wear, assembled all the documents – passport, uni diploma, etc. – I’d been asked to bring with me, and read up on the company so I could impress them with my knowledge. I was prepared.
The interview went well. I could tell they were impressed because they told me they were: “Wow,” they said, “Your store of knowledge and your skill set is impressive!” It was a good interview, and after telling me they had more candidates to see and hoped to let everyone know the outcome by Friday, they shook my hand, wished me Merry Christmas, and I departed.
I had planned to walk home, as the company was only a 25-minute walk from my flat, and I needed the exercise. I used to walk to and from work every day, as my previous job was not that far from my home, and I missed that daily walk. But as I was walking, it started to rain, and of course while I was making sure I’d packed everything I needed for the interview, I’d neglected to pack my brolly. A quick check of my wallet showed I had the money, so I decided to treat myself to a ride home.
Chatting with the taxi driver on the way home, when he learned I was coming from a job interview following a redundancy back in October, he shared with me that his wife had been made redundant from Angus Council just last week. He was really reassuring…“You & my missus are both smart & beautiful,” he said firmly. “You’ll both get something soon.” When we got to my flat, I opened my wallet to pay him, and he patted my hand and said, “On you go, doll. Best of luck to you.”
I was gobsmacked. But I don’t know why….I’ve learned in my 14 years here, that’s just the way the Scots are.
I never planned to be in this place: unemployed at Christmas time, on benefits, uncertain over the future. I don’t think anyone ever plans to be in such a place. Which is what makes kindness so important. That taxi driver might have seen a “smart and beautiful” woman – he might even have seen a confident woman. But on the inside was a woman who was deeply depressed – even close to suicidal, and he will probably never know how that small act of kindness renewed and restored me.
The internet meme is true. We should all be kinder than we need to be, cause you never know what someone is going through.