Like a dutiful citizen, I trotted off yesterday to my early morning meeting for EUC (no, not hocking a loogie, just applying for Emergency Unemployment Compensation).

Only to be greeted by the unhappiest woman in the world sitting at the desk checking everyone in.  (Do you have all 5 things you were told to bring?!  Yes ma’am.  You know this will take an hour-and-a-half, right?!  Yes ma’am.  Then go si-down ’til they call you!  Yes ma’am.  Also?  What part of dutiful citizen did you not get??  I’ve done what I’m supposed to do.  I’m in it to win it so HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT!  FIRE AWAY!!!!  Annnnnd – she shoots, she SCORES with the “80’s Song for Every Moment in Life.”  This time it’s Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” recorded in 1980.  Boo-ya!)

I agonized over what to wear to the “appointment” and settled on a skirt with a fun pattern and a ruffled top worn underneath a blazer.  I was trying to strike a balance between professional, yet poor.  On the one hand, I wanted them to know that I’ve been trying to get a job (look at me!  who wouldn’t want to hire this whole package?!  it’s just that there aren’t any jobs…not that I don’t look…or look the part) but on the other hand, I wanted them to know I needed the money (the skirt’s from Costco, the blazer’s from Wal-Mart and the shirt is from last year when I had money).

Turns out not everyone took as much time as I did in picking out their outfit.  One one chick DID match her neon pink tank top to her neon pink flip-flops, but other than that, the attire ranged from sneakers and jeans or capris (and not the nice kind, the hiking kind with lots of pockets)…to khakis & polo shirts (guys have it so easy!).

So, with the mis-step on the outfit front, and cheery Miss Sunshine at the front desk, I felt oddly anxious as I sat down to wait.

Why was I nervous?  What did I think would happen?  Would a cop show up & wrassle me to the ground and cause me to inadvertently flash my underwear to everyone as my poor-yet-professional skirt flipped up around my ears?!?

If he was gonna show up and wrassle anyone to the ground, I’m hoping it would be the chick who sat across the way from me and who was CLEARLY going to the beach after our EUC report-for-duty appointment wrapped up.  Seriously.  She had a bikini on underneath her coverup.  I could see the top tied at her neck.  And she was carrying a HUGE Starbucks cup and the biggest Coach purse I’ve ever seen.  Does Coach make…BEACH BAGS?!?  Come on!   She wasn’t even TRYING to look poor.  Two things here:  Copper, if you’re gonna wrassle anyone, totally wrassle her, please.  And there’s no EATING OR DRINKING IN HERE!  DON’T YOU SEE THE SIGNS POSTED ON EVERY AVAILABLE SURFACE?!??  This. Means. You, CoachPurseBeachBabe!

But on the bright side, I was happy to see that there were no crappy magazines or (bad) free coffee of any kind being offered in the waiting room.  Why?  Because I would have been PISSED if they had wasted good taxpayer money on that.  Spending it on me is fine.  On stupid crap that no one needs is not fine.  But it’s only when our “instructor” showed up that I find out what they spent the taxpayer money on (minus 18% budget cuts, of course).  It’s on the nifty shirt he’s wearing, embroidered with the “We wanna put you back to work!” logo.  This stuff is high-end.  None of that crap my multi-BILLION dollar company used to make me wear to trade shows (one blue and two yellow shirts because yellow is SOOOO flattering on everyone.  And all three shirts come in men’s sizes, so you gotta STUFF a yard of fabric into the legs of your khakis.  Belted khakis aren’t flattering to begin with and now the whole ensemble looks like you have a serious waist-and-hip disorder).

Despite the shirt, he seemed nice enough (even though he WAS single-handedly trying to bring white belts back from the fashion graveyard) as he led us into our meeting room (there WAS a cop there!  Saying things like, “All the way down to your right, please.”  No wrasslin’ of any kind went on – so I worried for nothing.)  But then whitebelt reveals his true self when he yelled at the man-who-thought-he-had-a-pen-so-declined-the-pen-offer-only-to-have-to-take-him-up-on-it-AFTER-whitebelt-put-the-pens-away.  Crap like that would make me wanna yell at pen-dude too, but not in front of fifteen other unemployed schmucks who are so nervous they have to keep slipping away to the bathroom.

It’s after the yelling that I become pretty certain whitebelt is going to make us change into gray, baggy uniforms then lead us out to the hardpacked dirt exercise yard where we’ll have to do jump/pee-ing jacks and the like.  But instead he started this good cop (him – he’s our friend and wants us to get a job that we really, really love) bad cop (the Colorado Department of Labor) routine by telling us an intriguing story about the Bartender-looking-for-work and the BOSSboy.  What!  What??  What’s a BOSSboy…and is there a BOSSgirl?!?  If so, how do I get that job?

Turns out he’s talking about a BUSboy who the Colorado Department of Labor would decide is not qualified to say there aren’t any bartender jobs.  It’s only the MANAGER who can say there aren’t any jobs.  Oh.  Ok.  What is going on?  Did I accidentally stumble into bartending re-training class??

But it all comes right as they lead us out an hour later to the gallows/our individual interviews.  I’m lucky enough to have “Laura” who tells me that once she sends my stuff off to the Bad Cops I’ll most likely get “disqualified” from EUC.  She explains in her calm, I-just-wanna-help-you voice that the job log I had to bring (for the last 6 weeks, I did 7; displaying 5 job contacts-per-week, I did 6) doesn’t indicate that I’ve submitted my resume very often.  There have been a LOT of conversations about jobs, but not a lot of applying.  And furthermore?  I will most likely have to pay all of my regular unemployment compensation back.

WhhhhaaaaAAAAAAAT?!?  WTF??!?!!!?!

At which point I explained to her in my I-just-got-off-the-Tilt-a-Whirl-and-might-puke-all-over-you voice how I’m a “bit concerned” about this news.  There aren’t very many jobs in my area-of-expertise so I’ve been trying to branch out into other areas.  This necessarily entails fact-finding conversations with companies about what jobs they may or may not have that could use my skill-set in a unique/different way.  And when I find out they don’t HAVE jobs – or only have VOLUNTEER jobs available – I don’t give them my resume.  D’uh!  (No, I didn’t actually add the “d’uh” part out loud.  I’m not THAT stupid.)

Nope.  Nothin’ doin’.  She won’t change her stance.

So, gut shot, with my entrails leaking from between my fingers as I try valiantly to hold them in (the slippery sumbitches!), I left Laura’s office wishing there had been more wrasslin’.  I coulda handled the wrasslin’.

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