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Segue 07a - The Value Sausage of Destiny (27/02/12 RC01)
MN – still need to decide on chapter placement
3400 words (1075 words alpha)
Imported into veni6.doc 27/02/12 (C??-C??)
It was my heart’s secret desire to remain unemployed until the end of time, leisurely idle until the day the Sun went supernova and vaporized the atmosphere of the Earth. The globe would be scoured clean with purifying flame; gigantic solar flares would strike forth and boil the moisture from the living flesh. The agonizing death of all life would finally be at hand, but most especially the life that happened to work at the Jobcentre.
I had always preferred the title of Labor Exchange; it was an appellation snappier and less sanctimonious than that of Jobcentre. In a similar vein, I had always preferred the title of Dole Scum over the more politically correct term of Job Seeker.
Alas, everything changes, and seldom for the better. As a callow youth, I had followed my father into the heart of the Labor Exchange, a brief but necessary detour to be made before we continued on towards the bookies. My father bade me wait by the doorway as he joined the queue of those waiting to sign on.
I stayed where I was put and was not tempted to explore my surroundings; viewed through the eyes of a child, the Labor Exchange was indeed a harsh vista.
The room was grey and hard. White sheets of paper, stamped with angry black capital letters, were nailed to walls in their hundreds. The floor was made of speckled concrete; the building rattled with the echoes of footsteps and the scraping of cold metal chair-legs. The air was thick with fag smoke, the smell of stale tobacco mingling with the reek of unwashed alcoholics to form a heady concoction.
I had learned to recognize the unmistakable aroma of human despair from a young age. The sights and smells of this destitute institute scared me a little, but I also knew that there was a certain truth lurking in the shadows here; no effort had been made to disguise the nature of this Hell, for Hell would be no deterrent if not honest about its nature.
Satan was eventually dethroned, of course; Margaret Thatcher, whist not dead and buried, is insane with dementia and eats her own shit for breakfast. Risen to power in her place are the unholy Homunculi, Tony Blair and his fellow demon-seed; upon their ascent to throne, the first order of business was to redecorate.
Gone are the grey walls conjured forth by the depravity of Thatcherism; they have been replaced by plasterboard, warm and painted with swatches of light, bright blue. Thus the walls, which had previously only been fit for stopping the roof from falling down, could now also inspire the clear-sky thinking deemed an essential part of the contemporary Job Seeker’s mindset.
Gone are the black and white notices thumped from the press in 72 point Impact, notices that possessed all the tact and subtlety of a half-brick to the face. The shock of the new comes forth in full colour, bright posters that dazzle the eyes and command the conscious with all the threat of a rainbow. This seductive propaganda portrayed the varied and diverse culture in which we now live; happy, smiling peoples seeking jobs in all walks of life.
Here we see the quintessential black man, clutching a surfeit of job application forms beneath his armpit whilst shaking the hand of his pale-faced oppressor. Here we see a grinning mother with rosy-cheeked babe in arms, the part-time work her position demands overflowing from the pram behind her. Over there, a lesbian in a power-suit grins inanely as the Job-o-Matic computer shits out City jobs on command.
Old men, young men, gay men, single men, single parent men, old single gay parent men; all are depicted smiling, all mugging pretentiously from their posters with so many jobs they don’t know what to do with them.
The posters do not reflect the reality of the situation.
Even the air which you breathe in this place was an artificial assault upon reality, thick with febreeze and the cloy odour of the bizarre plastic fern that dominated the freakishly modern decor. The Labour Exchange would have suffered no such pretense; I recall standing next to my father, getting faintly high on the reek of the heavy-duty disinfectant deployed whenever one of the old alcoholics who seemingly lived there lost control of their bodily functions and deposited some form of excrement upon the cold concrete floor.
There were no jobbies in the modern Jobcentre to amuse the infantile and the infantile-minded; like the poop-deck of a ship, the title was a sad misnomer.
There were no right-angles to be found here either; the architects and designers had removed all sharp edges from the furniture. The desks were deformed ovaloids, the partitions parsed between computers were bizarre half-circles. Even the chairs had been melted free of any rectangular edges that might offend some passing extraterrestrial species with mankind’s wild, crazy ideas about square geometry; make no mistake, these were alien chairs, built with no regard for the dimensions of the human arsecheek.
None of this really aided the humble Jobseeker in the seeking of an actual job; that particular function of the Jobcentre, long overlooked by those in charge, fell to the Advisors. And in my case, the position of Advisor was filled by none other than Briefcase Willie.
Briefcase Willie was the Jobcentre’s accursed cats-paw, and it was he who was tasked with bringing me to heel and integrating me into normal society. He was the pariah of the Gambit family, the outcast second scion of that noble line of Alcoholics; disowned and disavowed, he was a brother to Gambit in name only.
The list of shames he writ upon his birthright was lengthy; he was sober, to the despair of his brother. He was homosexual, to the anguish of his father. His mother was oft heard cursing the Briefcase was born; she would never forgive him for the ruination he wrought upon her private parts during birth. Indeed, oft times during her many deliriums locked away within the Murray Royal, Gambit’s mother was witnessed to pull up her hospital-issue gown and exclaim that, because of the Briefcase’s tremendously fat skull, she could now do naught but piss at 90° angles.
But of all the scorn heaped upon his deformed vag-ravager, the weightiest was the matter of his employment. In sacred Blairgowrie, working for the Jobcentre marked one out as a turncoat and a race-traitor. Following the Revolution, Briefcase would either be first up against the wall or sent to the Hague to be indicted for war-crimes.
Briefcase Willie's hatred for me was a very palpable thing; the contempt that radiated from him in waves was almost radioactive in its potency, warming my skin malignantly and scratching at my senses like the death-rattle of a giger counter.
He had found employment with the Jobcentre shortly after leaving school. Conversely, I had found unemployment with the Jobcentre shortly after leaving school. I had been his first caseload on his first day of work, and it was my ambition to be his last caseload on his last day of work; I would be both Alpha and Omega, a shining example to all the unemployed of the land. I would be a dire portent of the idle future to the Department of Social Security; they would look down upon the works of the unworking and despair.
I would be a leader of men; for was not Jesus Christ, First and Only Son of God, unemployed during his most influential years? Did not Mahatma Gandhi change the world by the simple expedient of resting leisurely upon his boney behind for months and years at a time? Did John Lennon, great and holy John Lennon, ever really do much other than smoke dope in bed, eat Pringles, twang on the sitar and occasionally pork Yoko Ono?
Show me a brace of great men, and I will show you men whose great works would not have been possible if the Jobcentre had sank their wicked talons into them first. John Lennon would be placed on innumerable restart and retraining courses. They would force Jesus to shave his beard and get a haircut to improve his prospects.
Mahatma Gandhi would doubtless end up working in a call center, and the world would be a poorer place for it.
If I was a bum with a messianic complex, then Briefcase Willie was a deranged political assassin. I would declare him Nemesis, but perhaps nemesis was to strong a word, too potent a term to apply to the borderline retarded schemes and half-spastic machinations that the vile man spewed forth on a fortnightly basis.
He was a lesser foe in my catalogue of villains, a mere irritation to be dealt with at a later date. I thought he posed no threat to me, and I had become complacent in my superiority; I would be harshly punished for my slipshod sass.
I had turned up a few hours late for my appointment at the Jobcentre, as was my prerogative and custom; the idea that I would be out of bed and abroad job-seeking at seven in the morning was patently ludicrous, just another of the petty torments inflicted on me by the equally ludicrous Briefcase.
I muttered an insincere greeting to Gambit’s brother, who was displeased with the hour of my arrival. I explained that the active and passionate pursuit of employment engaged upon by this particular Jobseeker would not often find common ground with the draconian schedules set by the petty-minded Briefcase; as such, allowances would need to be made.
I elucidated upon my late appearance with a truly epic tale of delayed buses, broken alarm-clocks and a series of no less than seventeen concurrent occupational interviews that unhappily ran over-schedule. Only once my heroic fiction had reached a climax worthy of standing ovation did I stick out my paw to await receipt of my giro.
No giro was forth-coming; in its place, I received a job application form and a biro pen, accompanied by an evil little guffaw from Briefcase Willie. The meat processing plant in Coupar Angus was apparently in need of laborers; it was to be the Tesco Sausage Factory for me, the Briefcase announced with malicious glee.
I was forced to fill out the document on the spot by this grinning minion of evil, who immediately removed said document from my grasp and locked it away inside his ridiculously shaped desk; his excuse for this blatant banditry was the offer to slip it into postbox for me, lest the application form be mysteriously misplaced en-route to the post office.
It was galling, but such things happened occasionally. The Briefcase had obviously put much thought into ending my reign as King of the Dole Scum, and so far his plan was working. He was, annoyingly, quite pleased with himself.
He was rejoicing prematurely, in my opinion.
Within the week, Rhombus Post pushed a summons to employment through my ragged letterbox. I debated treating the unwanted missive with the contempt it deserved and hurling it straight into the bin. Such rash action would, unfortunately, bring the wrath of the Department of Social Security down upon my head; my benefits would be cut for three months as punishment for willful non-compliance.
I pondered upon this turn of events, scheming on how to turn the situation to my advantage. I eventually decided that I had no choice but to turn up at the Sausage Factory at the appointed hour; they would be presented with a man who had apparently recanted of his wicked ways and was born anew. This eager looking individual would appear to be ready and willing to enter the world of full-time employment, whilst all the while stealthily engineering his way towards a tribunal for unfair dismissal.
So came Monday morning; I crawled out of my camp-bed at some ungodly hour, battered my unruly hair into some semblance of normality and trudged down to the Wellmeadow bus stop. Tesco had, with great foresight, laid on a special staff coach for those poor lost souls who regularly worked down at the sausage factory. It was a wise precaution against temptation; Tesco didn’t want half their staff absconding from public transport as they drove past the multitude of pubs en-route to gainful employment.
I was not the only one standing at the bus stop who had been royally shafted by the nefarious Briefcase; the Jobcentre’s favored servant had obviously been putting in the overtime recently. Cocky the Pot Noodle Chef stood glum beneath the bus-shelter, clutching his successful application form in a white-knuckled death-grip. Ten Inch Dave was likewise staring into space, the thought of full-time employment sending his synapses all awry. Other, longer serving minions of Tesco milled around the concourse, their jaws slack, their eyes cold and dead to the world.
That, I knew, would never be me.
The bus journey passed without incident and I was holding myself together admirably; it was only when I was shoveled out of the bus and into a pair of mismatched Wellington boots that the horror began to affect me; like my colleagues, I suspect that the prospect of manual labor drove me slightly mad.
I entered my new place of employment and the first thing to brutalize my senses was the stench, which was beyond foul. Raw strands of meat were power-hosed from the machinery and conveyor belts at half-hourly intervals; the drains were constantly clogged, meaning our feet splashed through a dilute soup of mince and gristle. Thin strips of sinew and flesh wormed their way under rivet-heads, table-legs and stuck under the treads of my Wellingtons. Spray from the power-hoses turned into tainted steam on contact with the refrigerated air and a stinking fog rose from the wet slurry that slushed around our feet.
Ranks of men and women dressed in stained white coats stood either side of the mass conveyors. At the head of the line was a monstrous, clanking steel brute; this, according our esteemed training officer, was the Sausage Master 800.
As far as I could ascertain, the Sausage Master worked in a manner reminiscent to a giant Mr. Whippy Ice Cream machine. In the center of the clattering contraption was an oily metal sphincter that irised open and shut like the aperture of a camera. A dead-man’s handle sprouted from the side of the machine; when the handle was pulled, the sphincter of the Sausage Master gaped wide and shat forth an unending coil of raw sausage meat.
It was my job and privilege to stand aside the almighty Sausage Master for twelve hours a day, filling five-meter long sheathes of skin with mechanically recovered meat before dumping the resultant rope of fat intestine onto the conveyor belt. Cocky the Pot Noodle Chef would take it from there, twisting the long cylinder into individual links of sausage before passing it on to Ten Inch Dave.
Dave would pick up the links and split them into eights or twelves; that done, he would lovingly tuck the sausages into their little polystyrene trays and send them off down the line, wiping a tear of pride from his eye as he did so. From there, the sausages would be shrink-wrapped, labeled, chucked onto freight-lorries and ferried out to Tesco supermarkets all over the country.
Giving up my free time to feed the hungry of the world was a noble duty, especially considering the piddling pittance Tesco were paying me for doing it. And yet, despite the righteousness of my cause, I couldn’t help but feel slightly unfulfilled; there was a niggling doubt in the back of my mind, a voice telling me that I was destined for greater things.
I felt a little underutilized as an inconsequential cog in Mr. Tesco's mighty machine, and decided to raise the matter of career advancement with the line supervisor at the earliest available opportunity.
It transpired that the supervisor was from Wales, and therefore not a man famous for his well-developed sense of humor. In no uncertain terms he made clear his opinions regarding any managerial aspirations I might harbor.
He struck me as a man lacking in imagination; through no fault of his own, he was incapable of seeing the singular vision for the Tesco Sausage Factory that I possessed. It was obvious that he saw a dark and dismal metal cave, where human beings could be trapped against their will and forced to repetitively perform mind-numbing tasks until their willpower broke and they became nothing more than unthinking drones of the Tesco Empire.
I, on the other hand, saw the potential for a place of light, love and laughter. I saw a way forward, a way to reignite the dim embers of human passion and resurrect the dead souls that languished in limbo around me.
Rather than bandy further wasted words with the blind fool wearing the supervisors helmet, I decided to act upon my instinct. I would display the initiative that Tesco had doubtless hired me for; working conditions needed to be improved. Staff morale had nose-dived into critical levels, and the only way to heal that morale was with the medicine of laughter.
I reached for my secret weapon; hidden within the darkest recesses of my wallet was a condom, which was borne more with senseless optimism than any realistic expectations. Now, my visit to the family planning clinic would be rewarded tenfold.
I carefully removed the sausage skin from the clanking machine beside me, cunningly replacing it with my banana-flavored cock-snarfler. With meticulous care, I aligned the sausage-shitting orifice and the open condom until I was satisfied. Eyes alight with life for the first time since I had been frog-marched into the factory, I leaned forward and pulled the dead-man’s handle.
As any bored adolescent would be able to tell you, the condom is a magical thing of impressive stretching qualities. Those issued by the health board are doubly magical, probably because those issued by the health board are doubly thick; oft were the times that I had witnessed some drunken wit asphyxiating upon the pub floor, having managed to stuff their entire head into a single flexible contraceptive with no thought given to an exit strategy.
As a youth, I had co-opted the Durex company into the manufacture of some particularly fine water-bombs; like the bouncing munitions of the legendary dam-busters, this advancement in water-bomb technology revolutionized the soaking of bastards upon the playing fields of Blairgowrie High.
And yet, there was no doubt in my mind that this was my finest hour; the union of Sausage Master 800 and Family Planning Clinic was nothing short of glorious. I sent a sloppy Hindenburg a-sailing down the conveyor belt, the banana-scented plastic creaking and straining to bursting point with barely constrained sausagey-goodness.
The laughter started slow but built rapidly; soon, the Tesco Sausage Factory was united in hilarity. All work ceased, so jubilant did the workers around me become. It was then that I knew, thanks to my inspired morale-boosting action, that a promotion was surely in the post. The Welsh supervisor himself stormed up the line to congratulate me for rejuvenating his flagging workforce; his face was glowing red with pleasure, his fists were bunched before him in delighted gratitude.
Alas, before he could pluck me from the minimally-waged masses and elevate me to the post of Lord Solar Commander of Tesco and Associated Subsidiaries, my hilarious meat-zeppelin exploded. My promotion prospects suffered accordingly; I was fired from my position as chief sausage-stuffer.
This was but the first terrific blow I would suffer that day; the Welshman, liberally coated in dripping sausage meat, saw fit to punch me in the left eyeball.
This is assault, as any court of the land will confirm. And the use of physical violence as a means of castigating employees for transgressions in the workplace is frowned upon. The law is quite clear, and the legal consequences for such deplorable violence were dire; it was fortunate for Tesco that I was a charitable fellow, and willing settle out of court for a four figure sum rather than subject them to the trial of the century.
I returned to the Jobcentre triumphant; word of my magnificent victory had spread out around me in concentric circles, reaching the ears of possible employers with gratifying speed. For weeks afterwards, Gambit’s brother desperately continued to send out application forms in my name; all were returned to sender without a stamp.
Thus the Jobcentre was defeated, and I was free to claim state benefits for perpetually. The hubris of Briefcase Willie was shattered upon the anvil of my awesome will; from that day forth he was forever a broken man.