Everybody, Stop Telling Me to Go on Welfare!

Ten years in Canada and I am worst off than when I started.

welfareHello. It’s me again. A decade gone, and still Canada’s most obstinately cynical immigrant. Whining and wailing and criticising from day one. Never accepting the status quo.  Forever wanting it better.  Always muttering and mumbling to oneself through this stupid blog.  And hoping someone or the other takes a note here and there from the often cryptically spewed self-righteous vitriol that is otherwise known as a diary of my perpetual failure.

The following is inspired by recent discussions under counselling on a variety of issues including — but not limited to — life and death, work and play, love and hate — plus other assorted facets of a lowly “immigrant experience.”

So, why won’t you go on welfare?

And then what?

While on Ontario Works, and while working at a supermarket…

  • Should I just happily and energetically continue with my search, for something that’s been elusive all this time, simply because they say perhaps this time you’ll ‘succeed’?
  • Should I endlessly write, rewrite, recompose, redefine, dilute, exaggerate resumes after resumes sent to some nameless, faceless database whose entire purpose appears to feed cheap human supplies to a fat, hungry pit of precarious ‘employment opportunities’?
  • Should I tirelessly “take the initiatives” for a thousandth time, for trying getting into an occupation that would actually make me feel worthwhile, according to my skills and abilities?
  • Should I just forget that time and age is advancing, not receding, and every day that I’d work stacking merchandise in the aisles, takes me further away in terms of energy, drive and will to live?

That is just defeatist thinking!

As opposed to what? ‘Winning’ thinking? ‘Succeeding’ thinking? What is the definition of accepting defeat? How long is the time period when a ‘defeatist’ can safely accept defeat without being labelled so? Two years? Five years? Seven years? Ten years?

Why don’t you acquire new skill sets? May be your skills are outdated?

How many times does one have to learn new skills every two years for one to qualify as ‘acquiring new skills’? And with every new skill set, the pressure and scope of industries to apply to widens. That means you are writing even more new resumes and applying to even more new places that you previously did not because you didn’t have those skills. Armed with your new skills, and while still carrying your previous skills, you are only adding more baggage to your ‘employment profile’ — as it is called by the Human Resource industry.

The more new skills you learn (without adding experience to them), the more you are saturating your worth and your self-esteem by not having to be able to add relevant experience — because you’ll always be perpetually a ‘newcomer’ in fields which you’re acquiring new skills for.

And by the way, all the time, effort and money that you spend getting new skills, new training and new education keeps you further away from your actual profession and craft for which you do have exceptional skills and experience. Your core competencies are withering away and your chances of getting into your own profession are diminishing while you chase the moving goal posts of new skills. You end up being a super mediocre, no-nothing newbie who is jack of many trades but master of none. You get even more and more unemployable because now more people are out there with focused experience in the skill set that you just acquired. You end up being someone with a ‘lot’ of skills but good to no employer in reality because none of your new skills has any solid experience attached.

What about networking and peer help?

That to me is the most laughable of those career advisory parlance clichés of contradictions that is thrown out by those whose entire purpose is to meet and greet and produce and distribute and re-cycle and redistribute age-old obsolete old-economy job-hunt wisdom to a gravy train of new migrants in awe of their authority.

It assumes that everyone is born with this innate extroverted gifts of finishing their miserable days and weeks ready to smile and mingle in the never-ending cookie-cutter job fairs, employment seminars, secrets-of-success workshops week after week, day after day. It stereotypes every individual as someone mentally and physically capable of endlessly summoning up cheery faced, small-talky & self-glorifying ‘elevator pitches’ to ‘potential employers’ at the blink of an eye — and at a moment’s notice.

It is an amusing contradiction because, the really resourceful people, those who could help you — those who know you as being a newcomer to a strange new country — are much fewer and farther in between. The rest — who are professionally running the various networking shows, immigrant awards or such social gigs — do not really much to care about all the unsuccessful suckers and leeches to begin with as long as their seats are filled and sponsorships maintained . That is simple business nature of it all, and it does not apply to any one group or the other. If I were a relatively ‘successful’ employment-industry person, my ‘networking’ priorities would always be with someone on a higher rung of the ‘social’ food chain, and not the ones below me, save for a few feel-good charity or awards occasions when the need to ‘give back’ to the community is felt. It may sound terribly cynical, but it is a self-observed reality, that most of us who are ‘networking’ and ‘socialising’ for professional advancement, are really doing it to reach a higher level. Nobody in a dog-eat-dog world of cut-throat business of job-hunting is just sitting around a campfire singing kumbaya for the lesser mortals’ collective benefit.

Why can’t you go somewhere else and start afresh?

Have you actually heard a single thing that I’ve been saying?

Why can’t family help?

I know only two people in Canada. I’m alone. Yes, it’s all my fault. Yes everybody hates me and my ‘flaming’ lefty politics. Yes, I’m an outcast and an outlier. Yes I’m an introvert with severe lack of reaching out properties.  No I cannot change it despite trying the hardest. Yes I am extremely sad that what a waste I am becoming to the planet by just consuming its resources and not giving back any of what I am capable of…

Remind me again, why can’t you take social assistance then?

Why is everyone’s stock suggestion is that? It is a great country I live in that cares for people when they are in dire need, and which provides a safety net for hard times. But the last resort should never be a default solution. I have resisted even the idea of considering going on welfare until now because I have not taken it for granted.

This may all sound very noble and ‘big’ of me to say but it is not. I am no saint.  When it comes to my imperative well-being and survival,  I am as selfish, inconsiderate, hypocritical and conservative like any right-wing douche-bag in the Canadian media, believe me.

While I do realise I am indeed in real need (about to lose shelter for the umpteenth time, with no job, now freelance side income also kaput, etc).  But, I am trying very hard to refuse to become one of those who — on one hand, won’t do ‘menial’ jobs because they find it ‘beneath them’  and against their dignity — but at the same time who won’t blink twice accepting a welfare cheque or demanding their accountants to squeeze out more tax credits if they’d qualify — without an ounce of irony.

So what the fuck is it that you want?

Just a (minimum wage) pay-cheque for work that requires me to do what I know, and what I’m good at, or even closer  — enabling me to keep a shelter. Why has that been such an impossibly herculean task for me in one of the most bountiful, rich countries on the planet, is sadly, beyond me.

Is this a cry for help or just another whine?

What do you think?

First Published: May 12th, 2017


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