Sunday, 4 July 2010

on the dole - by Theo

My teaching contract expired on June 30th, although my last day of teaching was the 24th, and unlike last year I have made a large enough contribution to Spanish social security (360 days) to be eligible to claim unemployment benefit, or paro.

I wasn't keen at first, it seemed slightly wrong claiming for what is basically a summer holiday. However, I've got mouths to feed these days and, while I've been offered a new contract from October plus work in September, I've got nothing on paper. Plus it's really worth doing - within certain maximums and minimums you get 70% of your previous base salary! So Friday morning, clutching virtually every official piece of paper I had, I headed off to our local INEM office on Virgen del Puig.

I went early, at 9am. The queue snaked down the street. People had books and packed breakfasts. Hmmmmm. At 9.55am I finally got to the front of the queue.... to the ticket machine. I explained what I wanted to do, the lady had a quick glance at my papers to check I was eligible, then gave me a ticket. B395. I looked at the screen. They were on B325. I looked at the ticket - it gave a tiempo orientiva of 12.45pm. Right. Funnily enough I went home!

12.30pm I got back to the office. They were only on B375. Hmmmm. Tiempo orientiva was right! 1.40pm I finally got seen, he had a look through the mountain of papers I had and then decided - of course - that I was missing something I'd never heard of - una baja en la demanda - but luckily I'd just have to go next door for it. I was a bit worried - the office was closing at 2pm - would I get back in before they shut? Was I going to have to come back on Monday?

Anyway, next door I was the only person waiting. I took my number and I paced around, death-staring all the functionarios doing nothing and studiously ignoring me. Somebody else came in, took a number (different letter) and was seen immediately. Time was ticking down. Finally, my number flashed up above the desk of somebody who had been doing sod all for the past 10 minutes and I was seen. 3 questions, sorted... except... take a number again, go to another desk, go to reception, get a print out and run back to the other office moments before the security guard turned the door to exit only. Phew.

I caught the eye of the guy who had been dealing with my application - he was of course with another applicant - and I took a seat. It was 2.30pm when I finally got out the office. Phew!

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