Becoming A Bludger

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A humorous short story.

Submitted: May 26, 2008

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Submitted: May 26, 2008

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BECOMING A BLUDGER

BY

IAN KIDD 

The certificate said: Score 69

SCORE NECESSARY FOR UNIVERSITY COMPLETION: 69

I looked down the sheet.

Final Score 52.........?

"Well," I said, looking up at my parents' expectant faces. "There's some good news, and

some bad news..."

My parents' reaction to the news that I would not be attending University was actually

rather good, I thought. For the next three weeks or so, they passed through three

separate stages of response:

1) The "You've Been Screwed" option. A personal favourite of mine, this consists of

calling the teachers, the examiners, the Australian Government and the lollipop man on

our street a series of unflattering obscenities, blaming them 100% for my failure to

attend University, the state of the education system as a whole, and always stopping

our car just to let bloody kids cross the road,

2) The "It's All Your Own Fault" option. Not my idea of helpfulness, this consists of

comments such as "You should have worked harder, shouldn't you?", "too much tv,

not enough work" and "You can't be on the Dole for the rest of your life, young man!"

3) The "Oh well" solution. Not as much fun as 1) but certainly better than 2 (for me anyway), this is mainly the oh-well-it's-happened-there's-no-point-crying

-over-spilled-milk-even-if-it-is-the-rest-of-your-life-we're-talking-about-here response. A

long-lasting and effective option but it should be noted that 3) will be achieved finally \\

only after options 1) and 2) have been repeated ad nauseum.

 

 

After the screaming had stopped, we then had to decide what I was actually going to

do, since not getting into University had not been a big part of my plans. We went to see

a very nice man at the Youth Access Centre, for two reasons - 1) to find out how my

score had had sixteen points knocked off, and 2) to see what my options were.

He explained I had lost the sixteen points under very fair and well-reasoned conditions.

It seemed that as several of the subjects I took were SAS (School Assessed Subjects)

and not PES (Public Examined Subjects) that, because, SAS subjects were a lot harder

and involved more work than the PES subjects, I lost points from all my SAS subjects.

Neglecting to realise what as ASS he was coming across as, he further said that

because in Media Studies I got an A but my classmates considerably lower, the "class

average" had to be modified to achieve the results they wanted - so my classmates had

their grades raised and my grades had, logically, to be lowered.

The man at the Youth Access Centre didn't seem to understand my parents'

observations that these were the most insane and ludicrous reasons they'd ever heard,

and kindly offered me the advice of repeating Year 12.

"I see," I said, seriously considering the offer. "You want me to spend twelve months

doing something that I have not only already done but had already passed until the

point choppers got to work?"

The man nodded. Perhaps noticing my less than enthusiastic response to this idea (the

phrase "F**k that for a lark" may have been uttered at some point) he then tried to

explain that it wasn't the point choppers who'd made me fail, it was my own fault for

leaving an education system as good as England's and coming to Australia in the first

place. At any rate, he smiled, repeating Year 12 was probably my best option.

I was on the verge of telling him where he could stick his options when my parents did

so instead - albeit in a more polite manner than I had been about to demonstrate, and

we left.

We then, over the course of the next few days, went to visit a "Career Guidance

Counselor", whose receptionist said would "look objectively at my situation and outline

the best response to it".

Her advice: "Repeat Year 12".

Perhaps such constant drumming in works on some youngsters, but I was made of

sterner stuff. More importantly, I had just worked bloody hard on no pay for twelve

months, only to be utterly screwed on all counts. The idea of returning to a place where

the value of your work diminishes because it's so much better than your peers was not

terribly appealing, and when my parents began to take up the chant - "Maybe you

should

think of repeating Year 12, you know...You didn't work that hard, did you? I

mean, you weren't studying when you were sleeping, were you?" - I made that clear.

School was out.

Repeating Year 12 was out. And, clearly, University was out.

My parents finally acceded. Now, they reasoned, we would look for other options.

Namely: Non-University Courses.

We spent the next few days running around Adelaide, for pretty much no reason at all.

We went to various TAFE's (technical colleges) and other places with colleges. As at

this time I was still vainly clinging to the idea of someday ending up in the Media, there

were very few courses that I was in any way interested in. None of these were full-time,

and all of them had at least one big problem attached to them: Money.

Call us tight, but $2000 for a three week course was not entirely what we had in mind.

One of the places we visited was called "Charklu", an "acting place". The moment we

got there we knew it was not what I wanted. It was populated by an assortment of freaks

and weirdos and children, and the woman who talked to me like she came from "The

Addams Family". We made our excuses and left.

We were at home about two hours later when the doorbell rang. As Morticia had

commented that someone from Charklu might pop around to talk to me (oh goody!), I

hid in the bathroom. When I heard the someone ask for Ian, I cringed.

However, it was not who I thought it was.

It was Michael Harrison, a friend I had made at Mawson High School the year before.

We had become friends almost by default, for the simple overriding reason that we

couldn't stand anyone else in the school. We didn't really have anything in common, but

our mutual contempt for everyone else drew us together. I had last seen him back in

December on the last day of school, and had not really been expecting to see him

again.

But here he was.

We went for a walk on the beach, talking, discussing Mawson and our exam results

and our futures.

"I got my exam results," Michael was saying, "with two points more than I should have

for Media Studies." This in effect changed his grade in that subject from a B to an A

(which I got). "But then I got a letter saying that was wrong, and I got my replacement

copy with the grade changed back to a B, and they wanted the original (wrong) copy

returned."

This he did, but before he did so he took over fifty photocopies of the original copy, so

every one he sent out to employers had the higher - false - grade on, making him as

good as me in that subject. I was ill amused. However, despite that, I told him to drop by

again sometime.

His parting words were succint: "Get yourself registered at the CES (Commonwealth

Employment Service) and on the Dole. I am - and it's great!"

As it was, Michael's advice was hardly a deciding factor. By this time, it was becoming

clear that I was not getting on a course or getting a job for some considerable time.

That night, my parents and I agreed.

It was time to go on the dole.

The rigmarole entailed in this, of course, turned out to be enormous.

I interviewed with a sour-faced woman at the CES.

"What career would you like to get into?" she asked.

My mother, with me at the interview, took over the conversation as she always did,

apparently believing me incapable of speech, despite much evidence at home to the

contrary. "Video production."

The CES woman gave me a look which can only be described as a mixture of scorn

and pity.

I soon discovered why. I had not come to Australia to be an actor, a writer, or a video

producer.

Or even a salesman.

I had come to Austalia to be buried.

Buried in paperwork, hopelessness and bitterness.

And the shovel was being wielded by God.

 

 

I signed up. I was, officially and irrefutably, a dole bludger. Then I had to get my own

bank account for the first time in my life, so they could deposit my money there.

My money.

Well alright, I hadn't earned it or anything, and it was essentially pity cash, but it still had

a nice ring to it. Not that I hadn't had money before, of course. I'd just never had it long

enough to require a bank account.

Before I got my first "pay cheque" (ho ho!) I had to meet my new CES "Youth Case

Manager", a very nice man who told me to consider voluntary work.

I told him I'd certainly consider it.

The days went by, I got my cheque. And then it began. After all the bustle and activity

of the first few weeks, now it all ceased. I was signed up. I had Dole. I was registered at

the CES, looking for work, with my own Case Manager.

I was screwed.


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