Phrases That Don’t Make Sense #1

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Anecdotes, Misc.
Tags: , , , , ,

Okay okay okay I admit things have been a little slow around here lately. There are reasons, some of which I may embellish during a drunken stupor in order to beef up sympathy. Boo hoo, and all that. Anyway, from the title alone it would suggest I may return to this as a recurring theme. You know, as a sort of back up blog.

So I’ve been wanting to make a point about a specific phrase that we’ve all heard at some point, many of us have had this phrase uttered directly at us. And that wagging finger that accompanies it is just rubbing salt into the wound:

Get a job!

A commonplace saying I’m sure you’ll agree. It seems to be one of those phrases that is said as 50% advice and 50% insult. Like “go fuck yourself!” Its meaning is pretty obvious and although the mention of the saying may conjure up an angry, conservative Daily Mail reader who is sick and tired of “having my taxes pay for lazy good for nothing dole scroungers!” (obviously you can replace lazy with whatever hot topic is making the rounds in the popular tabloids: immigrant, liberal etc.) it’s entirely possible that it can be said by well meaning people who just want to offer help.

The problem is is that the phrase doesn’t actually help anybody. It doesn’t even make sense. I mean, as a short sentence it’s succinct and not exactly easy to misinterpret. But over the years of being laid off and/or changing jobs (one of the reasons for my recent absence) I can tell you with 100% accuracy that one does not simply get a job.

No. You can’t. It’s actually physically impossible to get a job as though it is something that you can obtain from a nearby vending machine. You can look for a job, yes. You can apply for a job, certainly. But if you want to actually get a job someone has to physically give it to you.


Do you see what I’m getting at? You can have the most fantastic looking CV you can buy (buy?!) and have perfected your interview technique down to a fine art (art?!) but that all counts for exactly sod all when you’re staring down the nostrils of a company executive or manager who has the sole ability to accept you for the position or not. They are the ones saying yes or no to candidates. If one could simply get a job at will then CVs and interviews would be pointless. One could simply saunter into an office and proclaim “This is my desk now, bitches! I’ll take my paycheck like I take my coffee: in the mouth!”

I think this all stems from years of having my Nan breathe down my neck when I was living at home and not working at the time. Bless her, she tries. But I don’t think she could quite grasp the concept that just because I had graduated from college with a Diploma does not mean employers would happily throw open their doors to me. Admittedly she’s been working the same job since the French Revolution so she obviously doesn’t really know how the job market works or what state it’s currently in but telling someone to simply “get a job” is as useful a piece of advice as telling someone “watch your head” after they’ve already hit it on a swinging pub sign or low flying albatross.

And it doesn’t even just apply to regular jobs either. For instance: I’ve done some freelance work in my time. Some of it for pay. Some of it to appease certain Aztec gods. And although it could be argued that my writing itself is a job I created (albeit a poorly paid one) the process of getting work still remains the same. I can be as well qualified and experienced as others but an editor (or agent if it’s a longer piece) still has to be the one to determine whether or not you are worth taking on board.

I understand what the saying means and I know that in many respects it’s supposed to give a person a kick up the arse but I think the wording needs to be tweaked somewhat: telling someone to “go look for a job” is not anymore helpful as its predecessor but it’s at least an obtainable goal. What comes after that is based purely on an even mixture of job skills, experience, luck and how awe inspiring your cleavage is.

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