THIS PART IS NOT A COMPLAINT...... YET!
My name is John Sollies and on the afternoon of Thursday 17th March I attended your office at 15.35 hours with the purpose of signing on for the first time.
On entering the office I handed my signing on form to one of the two gentleman at the reception desk. ?? I was asked to sit down on any of the sofa chairs situated to my left. ??As such I choose to sit on the first available sofa chair nearest the door and opposite the first desk in the line.
A lady was working at the desk and I noted for the first few moments how professional and polite she sounded. ??During my period of waiting I started to read my book but as is a habit of mine continued to observe those around me
After a few minutes I recall looking up as I heard one of the male reception staff say the 'F...' word. ??As this occurred a gentleman with a tattoo on his neck came into the office and was directed to a line of phones situated to my right against the back wall. ??A young short lady dressed in a grey tracksuit then came in and she was instructed to sit down. ??She sat next to me and was told by the polite lady what she had to do. ??The young short lady went to the telephones and then returned and sat next to me again. ??A gentleman then came up to her and handed her a note explaining that she had been given the wrong number to call and should use the number on the note. ??The young lady stood up, made a sound to express her frustration and proceeded to the telephones.
I continued reading my book.
After some minutes I heard two members of staff calling my name. ??These persons included the ???polite lady??? and another lady to her right.
I stood up and they pointed towards a ???gentleman??? who indicated I should go towards his desk.
As I did so the ???gentleman??? (your staff member) made a comment as to where had I been. ??I explained that I had been sitting down and pointed towards the sofa chair I had been sitting on. ??Without looking at me the ???gentleman??? stated that I had not been sitting on that sofa chair. ??Having worked in a professional environment for most of my life and this being my first signing on, having spent the last four years looking after my invalid mother, I knew immediately to maintain a professional yet firm and polite manner. ??
The ???gentleman??? choose not to look up whilst making the inflammatory statement nor did he look up after making the inflammatory statement. ??Therefore I stood up and immediately went over to the 'polite lady'.
I politely but firmly informed her as to what had just occurred and stated that I was not pleased with the direct implication that I had been telling a lie. ??I explained to the 'polite lady' that I excepted that the 'gentleman' was perhaps having a bad day but felt he had crossed a line with his remark and manner.
The 'polite lady' listened to what I had to say and acknowledged my concern without directly taking sides, which I consider to be the correct response.
I went back to the 'gentleman' and explained to him politely but firmly that I took exception to his statement and that perhaps an acknowledgement of a misunderstanding would have been a better approach as perhaps without his realizing he had inferred that I had been telling a lie. ??The ???gentleman??? did not accept this comment from me. ??I again expressed my opinion and commented that we should proceed with the signing on. ??The ???gentleman??? still did not look at me and continued to 'hide' his face by looking down towards the desk. It could be there was a certain embarrassment on his part.
At some point the ???gentleman??? got up from the desk. ??As he did so I looked around and saw a number of people waiting on the sofas who appeared to acknowledge my comments, which could clearly be heard due to the open nature of the office. They nodded their heads towards me as if in agreement with what they had just witnessed. ??It was at that point that I realized a more pressing issue. ??
I got up from my chair and went over to the ???polite lady???. ??I explained to her that I was not making a complaint but I felt it important to comment that I had the strength of character and skill to deal with such a situation. I could not help but feel for those who came into the office with what little dignity they have left, during these most awful national economic circumstances. That such a situation as I had experienced could be the moment someone else finds that it takes away any form of dignity and confidence they may have left ( and I talk from experience having seen it most of my life).
As I went back to the desk I noticed the ???gentleman??? who had dealt with me was sitting down and another ???uniformed gentleman??? was standing over him having a conversation. As I sat back down I placed my crossed hands on the desk and as I did so felt the 'sixth sense' sensation of the uniformed gentleman looking down at me.
As he looked down on me, bearing in mind he was to my right, he then proceeded to slowly start walking around me in a semi circle, stopping when he was too my left. ??At this point I would describe my thoughts and feelings as that of an attempt to intimidate my person. ??I could be wrong but it sure felt like that. ??I turned my head towards him which given the circumstances of someone shifting from right to left behind you would, in my opinion, be an instinctive reaction. ??As I looked at him..... AND HERES THE COMPLAINT... the ???uniformed gentleman??? altered the expression on his face to what appeared to be one of 'anger, aggression', he then proceeded to raise his arms slightly from his side and as he outstretched the palms of his hands said to me ' ???WHAT YA LOOKING AT???. ??Those by the way were his exact words and I have enough experience of recalling events, submitting them in statement form and giving such information as evidence in a court of law.
I must admit given my surroundings at that point I did not feel overly physically threatened although it did appear that the ???uniformed gentleman seemed to have a belief in an overrated 'sense of power'. ??As such it was immediately clear that I could easily say something which could further antagonize him. ??I made a quick comment about I was curious as to why he was standing there and immediately looked back at the gentleman assisting me thus avoiding any escalation. ??At this point it did cross my mind that I was perhaps doing the ???uniformed gentleman's??? job, having some knowledge as to ???Security Guard/Doormen??? training.
The ???uniformed gentleman??? stood next to me for a few moments and although I cannot comment on his own thoughts, I do hope he by chance came to realize that we were not in a pub on a saturday night with a few beers inside us. Its just an expression by the way, I don't drink!
The ???uniformed gentleman??? moved away from the desk and the ???gentleman??? continued to assist me. ??I went out of my way to impress upon the ???gentleman??? that this was my first time signing on and that previously I had looked after my seriously ill mother for four years. ??I also told him that I had some questions about my CV after he had dealt with the paperwork. ??It was at this point that the atmosphere seemed to cool down and on asking my questions the gentleman could not have been more helpful. ??We even managed a conversation about the book I was reading, which is probably why the problem started in the first place!
On completing our meeting I stood up and held out my hand, I said sorry (it is only a word after all) and explained that misunderstandings occur all the time. ?? He seemed somewhat embarrassed at that point and appeared to look away. ??I got the sense of someone who perhaps finds it difficult to say sorry, whatever the circumstance. ??Nonetheless I was grateful that the situation had been resolved in a positive manner.
As I left the office I mentioned to the 'polite lady' that we had acknowledged the misunderstanding. ??She politely acknowledged my comment and I went on my way. ??
I immediately went to the Smethwick Youth Centre and arranged that on Monday next someone will look at my CV and assist in 'cleaning it up'.
I understand how difficult a working environment it is in a Job Centre and under normal circumstances would take no further action. ??However I felt I should detail my recollection of events (always accepting of course that other persons involved may have different recollections) as I felt that the actions of the 'uniformed gentleman??? were so inappropriate.
I am sure that under any normal circumstances his actions cannot be regarded as acceptable. It also makes me curious as to how many 'SITUATIONS' this gentleman may have been involved with in the past. ??I would hope that some steps would be taken on receipt of my email as of course the possibility of a similar situation occurring in future, with possibly even more unfortunate consequences, could result in Management being held legally responsible if they fail to act on information supplied or information which you may already be aware of.
I trust that this assists in helping you and your staff avoid any unnecessary problems in future. ??And of course making everyones day a little less stressful . My colleagues have told me about a website where you submit these kind of experiences but as I recall when I was working if you do not tell the ???bosses??? only one thing is definite.... nothing changes!.
I WOULD ASK THAT MY NAME AND PERSONAL DETAILS REMAIN PRIVATE FROM THE 'UNIFORMED GENTLEMAN' regardless of the fact that he should recall our meeting.
STATEMENT OF JOHN EDWARD SOLLIES
FURTHER TO MY LETTER TO THE JOB CENTRE, SMETHWICK, DATED 17TH MARCH 2011 ATTACHED COPY IDENTIFIED AS JES1. I CAN ALSO CONFIRM THAT DURING THE END PART OF MY CONVERSATION WITH ???THE GENTLEMAN??? HE ASKED ME IF I HAD COMPLETED MY JOB SEARCH FORM. I REMOVED IT FROM MY ENVELOPE AND APOLOGIZED EXPLAINING TO HIM THAT I HAD MISUNDERSTOOD AND THOUGHT IT WAS A FORM I HAD TO COMPLETE TODAY. I EXPLAINED TO HIM THAT THE LAST FEW WEEKS HAD BEEN A DIFFICULT PERIOD AND I WAS STILL FINDING IT HARD TO ADJUST HAVING SPENT THE LAST FOUR YEARS WIPING MY MOTHERS BACKSIDE AND NOW FINDING MYSELF BACK IN ???WORK SEARCH LAND??? YOU CAN SING THAT AS LYRICS TO THE SONG ???JUSTIFIED AND ANCIENT??? BY KLF AND TAMMY WYNETTE. HE INFORMED ME THAT THIS WAS ???NAUGHTY???, NOT COMPLETING THE FORM AS OPPOSED TO SINGING THE LYRICS TO ???JUSTIFIED ANCIENT???. HE TOLD ME I SHOULD HAVE COMPLETED IT. HE TOLD ME IT WAS OK TODAY BUT NEXT TIME I SHOULD MAKE SURE THAT THERE WAS AT LEAST SIX JOBS WRITTEN DOWN. I TOLD HIM I WOULD DO THIS BUT HOPED OF COURSE THAT I WOULD BE EMPLOYED BY THEN. THE GENTLEMAN THEN PROCEEDED TO TELL ME IN DETAIL THAT IN FUTURE I SHOULD COME INTO THE JOB CENTRE AND SIT IN THE MIDDLE SOFA OR ON THE WINDOW SHELF. WHILST DOING THIS HE WAS MOTIONING WITH HIS FINGER TOWARDS THE MIDDLE SOFA AND MIDDLE SHELF. I COULD SEE PEOPLE LOOKING TOWARDS ME BUT LUCKILY I LEARNT A LONG TIME AGO THAT EMBARRASSMENT WAS JUST ANOTHER TOOL USED TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU DID NOT ESCAPE FROM YOUR PRISON. I TURNED TO FACE ???THE GENTLEMAN??? . I EXPLAINED TO HIM THAT I WAS 46 YEARS OF AGE AND DID NOT FEEL IT APPROPRIATE FOR A GROWN MAN TO BE GIVING ME CHILD LIKE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO SIT OR WHERE TO ****. I COULD HAVE THEN GONE INTO DETAIL AS TO HOW THE ???TWO RECEPTIONISTS??? HAD INSTRUCTED ME TO SIT ANYWHERE I WANTED AND THAT HIS INSTRUCTIONS THEREFORE GO AGAINST THAT INITIAL ADVICE. I COULD HAVE TOLD HIM THAT IF THERE APPEARED TO BE SOME TYPE OF CONFLICT REGARDING SEATING ARRANGEMENTS THEN PERHAPS IT WAS BEST THAT HE AND THE RECEPTIONISTS WRITE OUT A DETAILED LETTER TO MANAGEMENT EXPLAINING THAT MANAGEMENT SHOULD ISSUE GUIDELINES TO STAFF REGARDING SEATING ARRANGEMENTS. I COULD OF BUT I THOUGHT BETTER OF IT. IF I COME IN NEXT TIME AND SIT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEATING AREA WHATS TO SAY THAT ???THE GENTLEMAN??? IS NOT OFF THAT DAY. THE PERSON I SHOULD BE SEEING MAY BE SAT AT EITHER END OF THE ROW OF DESKS. IT MAY BE THAT BEING SEATED IN THE MIDDLE MEANS THAT I AM MORE INCLINED TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOISE AND HENCE THE POSSIBILITY YET AGAIN OF NOT HEARING MY NAME BEING CALLED. IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO SEE OVER THE COURSE OF AN HOUR HOW MANY NAMES ARE CALLED AND HOW MANY PEOPLE COME STRAIGHT AWAY. I GET CALLED LOADS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF NAMES GIVEN MY SURNAME SPELLING, ???FOLLAS??? IS A COMMON MISINTERPRETATION OF MY NAME, PLEASE REFRAME FROM LOOKING IN THE DICTIONARY ITS REALLY DISGUSTING. ALSO, WHAT ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY THAT SOMEONE MIGHT HAVE HEARING DIFFICULTIES, CULTURAL LANGUAGE ISSUES ETC. I COULD HAVE TOLD ???THE GENTLEMAN??? THAT IT???S NOT JUST HIS WORLD WE INHABIT. I COULD OF BUT I THOUGHT BETTER OF IT. FINALLY, AND THE SCARDIEST PART OF THE CONVERSATION WAS WHEN THE GENTLEMAN ASKED ME TO LOOK RIGHT WITH MY EYES AND OBSERVE THE GENTLEMAN BEHIND THE DESK. AS HE SAID THIS EACH WORD ENTERED INTO A MORE DISTANT WHISPER THAN THE ONE PRIOR TO IT. I HAD TO THINK FOR A MOMENT HOW TO MOVE MY EYES RIGHT! WHEN I HAD WORKED IT OUT I DID AS REQUESTED AND OBSERVED, JUST AS HE HAD TOLD ME, THERE SAT ???THE GUY??? BEHIND THE DESK TO MY RIGHT. I MOVED MY EYES SLOWLY BACK TO THE FORWARD POSITION AND FOUND MYSELF STARING YET AGAIN INTO THE FACE OF ???THE GENTLEMAN???. HE THEN TOLD ME THAT IF I DID NOT FILL IN THE FORM WITH SIX JOBS NEXT TIME I COULD END UP WITH ???THE GUY??? TO MY RIGHT BEHIND THE DESK AND I WOULD NOT WANT THAT. IT WAS AT THIS POINT I HAD TO REMIND MYSELF THAT I DID NOT DO MOMS NERVE TABS ANYMORE AND WAITED WITH ALMOST ORGASMIC ANTICIPATION AS TO WHAT I WAS ABOUT TO BE TOLD. ???THE GENTLEMAN??? THEN TOLD ME, IN A WHISPERING WHISPER (DONT YA JUST LOVE JACKIE), YES IN A WHISPERING WHISPER, THAT THE GUY TO MY RIGHT, GET READY FOR THIS, ???LOVES IT???. LET ME REPEAT THAT. ???THE GENTLEMAN??? TOLD ME THAT ???THE GUY??? TO MY RIGHT ???LOVES IT WHEN SOMEONE COMES IN WITH LESS THAN SIX JOBS ON THE FORM???. GO ON, DROP THAT JAW BABY BECAUSE IT???S A JAW DROPPING F....................N MOMENT. I WAITED PATIENTLY TO HEAR HIS NEXT LINGERING WORDS. ???HE LOVES IT??? THE GENTLEMAN REPEATED NODDING HIS HEAD SLIGHTLY SO AS TO EMPHASIS THE ENORMITY OF WHAT HE WAS TELLING ME AND YET SOMEHOW HIS EYES STAYED FIXED ON ME WHILST HE MOTIONED HIS HEAD UPY AND DOWNY. THEN I REALIZED. THATS ALL HE NEEDED TO SAY. THE MESSAGE HAD BEEN DELIVERED. I FINALLY UNDERSTOOD THE CONSEQUENCES OF ENDING UP WITH ???THE GUY??? TO MY RIGHT SHOULD I EVER FIND MYSELF WITH LESS THAN SIX JOBS ON ???THE FORM???. ALL I COULD DO WAS THANK ???THE GENTLEMAN??? FOR TELLING ME THIS. IT WAS AT THIS POINT I REALIZED THAT EVEN I WAS WHISPERING, A WHISPERING WHISPER (CANNOT STAND JOAN THOUGH). GIVEN THE SERIOUSNESS OF WHAT HAD JUST TRANSGRESSED BETWEEN US A WHISPERING WHISPER SEEMED SOMEHOW APT. THEN I REALIZED WHAT HAD JUST OCCURRED. DAMN HIM. ???THE GENTLEMAN??? HAD SOUGHT AND GOT HIS REVENGE. HE HAD INSTILLED IN ME A SENSE OF FEAR. I UNDERSTOOD NOW THAT LOOK ON THE FACES OF THOSE BEHIND ME AND COULD ONLY IMAGINE THE YEARS OF ???PINHEAD??? TORTURE THEY HAD ENDURED. I FINALLY REALIZED WHAT IT MUST HAVE FELT LIKE FOR THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT PRIOR TO THEM FINALLY SUCCEEDING IN THEIR REVOLUTION. THE FEAR. ???HE LOVES IT???, THOSE THREE LITTLE WORDS HAD MADE ME REALIZE HOW CLEVER THE ???JOB CENTRE??? REALLY WERE. HOW CUNNING AND CONNIVING THEY ARE TO ENSURE THAT THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN TAKING THAT ???LIFE FORCE SUCKING JOB??? IS THE PROSPECT OF HAVING TO RETURN AND MAYBE JUST MAYBE FINDING YOURSELF SEATED OPPOSITE ???THE GUY??? BEHIND THE DESK TO MY RIGHT WITH LESS THAN SIX JOBS ON THE FORM. AS I WALKED HOME ALL HOPE HAD BEEN SAPPED FROM EVERY INCH OF MY BODY. ALL THOSE YEARS OF TORMENT AND AGONY WATCHING MY MOTHER SUFFERING WERE NOTHING COMPARED TO THE THOUGHT OF RETURNING TO ???THAT PLACE???. BUT THEN IT CAME TO ME. OF COURSE. WHILST I AM SEARCHING FOR MY JOB WHY DONT I USE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO KEEP MY MIND CREATIVE AND THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN FEAR TO KEEP YOU ON YOUR TOES. SO, HERE GOES. WHY DO???NT I PLAN IT SO FOR THE NEXT TEN WEEKS, IF I AM STILL GOING TO ???THAT PLACE???, I RETURN TO ???THAT PLACE??? FIFTEEN MINUTES PRIOR TO MY APPOINTMENT AND OBSERVE THE TORTURE BEING HEAPED UPON OTHER PERSONS. THEN MY PAIN WOULD NOT FEEL AS SHARP BECAUSE THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE SUFFERING. ???THE GENTLEMAN??? SHOWED ME THAT. I COULD OBSERVE FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES, MAKE MENTAL NOTES, RETURN HOME, TYPE THEM UP AND THEN PRINT OUT FIFTY COPIES EACH SECOND THURSDAY NIGHT. I WOULD INITIAL AND NUMBER EACH COPY I.E. 14 OF 50. GIVING INSTRUCTIONS ON A FRONT SHEET THAT ONE DAY THE FIVE CHAPTERS TOGETHER COULD BE WORTH A LOT OF MONEY. I WOULD THEN SPEND EVERY SECOND FRIDAY MORNING OUTSIDE THE JOB CENTRE HANDING OUT EACH CHAPTER OVER THE COURSE OF THE NEXT TEN WEEKS. AND HANDING THEM OUT TO TOTAL BLOODY STRANGERS. THATS THE GENIUS OF THE PLAN, TOTAL STRANGERS TRYING TO GET ALL FIVE CHAPTERS TOGETHER PRIOR TO SELLING THEM ON EBAY ONCE THEY HAVE BEEN AUTHENTICATED BY ME OF COURSE, AT A PRICE. CLEARLY I WILL HAVE TO PROMOTE THIS IDEA BY USING MY EXPERTISE WITH FINAL CUT EXPRESS, GARAGEBAND, LIVETYPE, IWEB, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, YAHOO, GOOGLE, ETC. OH MY GOD THE LIST JUST GOES ON AND ON AND ON. IMAGINE THE RICHES, THE FAME, EVERYONE AT SMETHWICK JOB CENTRE BECOMING CELEBRITIES JUST LIKE ON THE TELE. JUST LIKE THOSE LOVELY ???ESSEX GIRLS???. PEOPLE WILL SAY ???WHO???S THE GENTLEMAN??? AND THINGS LIKE ???WHOS THE GUY??? AND ???WHOS THE UNIFORM GENTLEMAN??? AND ???WHOS THE POLITE LADY?????? AND ???I WONDER WHICH ONE OF THE ???TWO RECEPTIONISTS??? SAID THE ???F??? WORD???. IT???S A GOD DAMN BUSINESS PLAN I TELL YOU. IT???S MY TICKET OUT OF HERE. MAYBE MOMS NOT HERE FOR A REASON. MAYBE HER SUFFERING WAS MEANT TO BE SO THAT AT THAT MOMENT, AT THAT EXACT TIME I WAS THERE WHEN HE TOLD ME THOSE BLOOD CURDLING THROAT GRASPING WORDS......... ???HE LOVES IT??? IT WAS MEANT, TRUELY MEANT TO BE. IT???S STRANGE BUT WHEN I PLAY IT BACK IN MY HEAD SOMEHOW THE WORD ???F....N??? SEEMS TO BE APPEARING BETWEEN THE WORDS ???HE??? AND ???LOVES???. IT JUST SEEMS RIGHT SOMEHOW.
ALTERNATIVELY YOU COULD JUST GO ONTO YOUTUBE AND WATCH ???WE ARE THE FUTURE??? BY PHD. NOW THAT REALLY WILL SCREW WITH YOUR HEAD.
GOTTA GO, MUMMYS MAKING SHEPHERDS PIE TONIGHT AND LATER WERE OFF TO UNCLE DEREKS TO PICK UP HER WEEKLY ANCHOR BUTTER. MUMMY CANT AFFORD ANCHOR BUTTER BUT UNCLE DEREK IS REALLY GOOD TO US. I LOVE MY MUMMY. ARE YOU THERE MUMMY, MUMMY WHERE ARE YOU........
ANY REFERENCES TO INDIVIDUALS, KNOWN, UNKNOWN OR EXISTING IN A PARALLEL UNIVERSE IS CLEARLY INTENTIONAL. I UNDERSTAND THAT WE STILL LIVE IN A SOCIETY WHERE THE POSSIBILITY TO OFFEND IS ACCEPTABLE AND IS ANYWAY USUALLY AN ALTERNATIVE REACTION TO JUDGING ONES OWN WORDS OR ACTIONS, NOT AGAINST THE LAW AND SHOULD, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, NOT LABEL YOU MENTALLY ILL.
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