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Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The dole queue can be a minefield. I'm by no means insinuating that Mr Cowen et al have installed mines, beartraps, speakers playing Abba's Waterloo on a loop and even the occasional bout of Chinese water torture to deter people from applying for benefits (although you'd never know what will happen with Budget '10). Instead, the mines are planted deep in the consciousness of the applicant. These mines may not be real but are still highly dangerous - like actual incendiary devices, they will affect you worst when you are ill-prepared for the coming onslaught.

"What queue am I supposed to go to?" BOOM! "Ooh, forgot my PPS number, whoops." BLAM! "Form? What form? I didn't fill out any form!" WHAM! "Back of the line, bucko." Here are a few tips to make your Social Welfare application run ever so smoothly. Cut out this article and keep it somewhere handy. After you do that, have a look at my picture. You will probably see me in there. Best of luck!

1) Be like a Boy Scout and/or safe sex advocate: come prepared. Nothing makes a person roll their eyes and emit an exasperated sigh faster that a fruitless fumble for a rent book or mortgage agreement. So bring everything along with you. Bring along the kitchen sink if you must.

2) But don't go too mad. No-one wants to see your Xtravision membership card, bronzed baby shoes or photos from your last boozy stint in Santa Ponsa. Stick to the essential paperwork.

3) Don't get dressed up. To the men in three-piece suits: your application will not be processed faster if you look like you just need a government cheque to light a cigar. A standing ovation to the suited and booted who are so because they just take careful pride in their appearance. A cream pie in the face to those who think that looking like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company actually makes them one and thus entitled to give orders. I actually saw one such specimen physically push a girl out of his way in a queue and swear at the woman behind the counter when she told him to move back. His excuse? He was tired of waiting.

4) Tired of waiting? Bring a book. And don't push me out of the way if you see me queueing.