Diary Of A Fat Bloke – When A Fair Is Not A Fair. Also, Hey Google? Shut Up

Hello, it’s been a while. A combination of illness and adverse weather have put paid to my 500’000 steps goal for the month but without further ado, take a seat, grab your liquid refreshment of choice, it’s a long one today.

The first week of March was somewhat successful in getting steps in with 146k+ steps recorded between the 1st and 7th. The following week (8th – 14th) providing a paltry 24k. 300k+ steps from the remainder of March remains possible if exceedingly, and increasingly, unlikely. At the time of writing, 10k+ steps are in the bag for today following a morning in Sheffield (more below), though rain is forecast for the rest of the week.

Following a relatively strong start, my 500k steps goal has faltered rather massively

On the whole, the United Kingdom handles many many things poorly, one of the more recent things being snowfall. I am not criticising the school, they have a duty of care towards the children and can only act on the information provided to them regarding the severity of the weather. It did make it all the more annoying though when, on Thursday, a message was sent to all parents, asking them to pick up their respective children early if possible, due to adverse weather. More so when a size-able number of said parents were standing outside the school office, braving little more than a cold wind, as they waited for children to be shepherded out. Overnight Thursday/ Friday, the ‘Beast From The East’ hit and we were subjected to perhaps 3-4 inches of snow. Undoubtedly even the merest amounts of snow can cause issues for less able-bodied people however the majority of those with school-aged children *should* have been able to adapt and overcome. The word on the wind though suggested that many of the teaching staff came from areas which were worse affected and it was a number of contributory factors which led to the decision to close the school on Friday.

The Child, learning of the early start to the weekend (and snow), and knowing to quote Disney is more likely to be viewed as a cute request which is more difficult to refuse, hit me with “Do you wanna build a snowman? Come on, let’s go and play!” To the garden we went where, within no more than a matter of moments, and in the ultimate irony, while counseling The Child to not ‘slip and fall’, promptly slipped and fell, hard. Suitably winded, and after regaining the ability to speak, I declared, grumpily, that we were ‘going to the park’ where the ground was far less 45°. At the park we encountered a surprisingly large number of people, mostly families with young children and The Child declared that she wanted to go play with two boys who were, for lack of a more eloquently term, kicking an already present snowman out of existence. Abandoned but undeterred, I continued with my creation. When complete, The Child returned and declared ‘I love him’.

We called him ‘Olaf’, obviously.

As much as I have not stop on any rooftops and proclaimed as much for all to hear, I am currently ‘between jobs’. I had been working as an ‘HR Onboarding & Vetting Coordinator’ for a global parcel distribution company however, with the current trend of everyone going on strike, along with a few internal ‘hiccups’ which I was not directly involved in, but was directly impacted by, meant that shortly before Christmas, I was no longer working as an ‘HR Onboarding & Vetting Coordinator’. Since that time, I have had the enormous displeasure of dealing with the utter incompetence and ‘here are some hoops, jump through them’ mentality which epitomises the Department of Work & Pensions. I have technically been successful in applying for no fewer than 3 roles. One with the same global parcel distribution, another in public service and another in civil service. Of the three, the first two are ‘on hold’ indefinitely and the third, awaiting completion of background and security checks which, I have no reason to believe will not pass, but which take such a long time to complete, even though I had the same check(s) almost exactly two years ago and which remain valid for another five.

And so, Sheffield. I had been using Indeed.com, among others, to find gainful employment and saw reference to a “Sheffield Jobs Fair” being held at Bramall Lane (home of Sheffield United FC).

It’s either a Job(s) Fair or it’s not, depending on which part you focus on…

A few things to unpack here and a couple of complete non-truths to highlight:

Preferred dress code – Casual (come as you are, but please be presentable) Seemed entirely fair, no issue with this. I’ve only actually attended one jobs fair in the past, many many moons ago when living ‘by the coast’ (Greenock, don’t think about it too much). Trousers fitting even worse than the last time they were forced into use (It feels like to buy a larger size is to accept things I have no desire to accept), and one of only two shirts which still fit, adorned and I was ready to head for the train. As it turned out, I was massively overdressed, and that included the majority of the company reps who were present.

PLEASE NOTE – This is a JOBS FAIR event with multiple jobs from MULTIPLE INDUSTRIES/COMPANIES on the day. It is NOT an industry specific event aimed at one industry e.g. Sales Executives or Waiting Staff etc. Industry specific it may not have been, dominated by one industry (Health/ Social Care) it most certainly was.

500+ jobs available at this event from employers from various sectors and industries. No way, no how, were there even close to 500 jobs available.

Various employers that attend will conduct “mini interviews” on the day. – Unless said employers were intending to take prospective employees out to the car park, or behind the bar (yes, there was a bar), there were precisely zero areas which resembled somewhere a semi-private conversation, never mind a “mini-interview” could have been conducted.

It’s more than a “Jobs Fair”. You can speak to exhibitors about training, apprenticeships, volunteering, self-employment, and more. Maybe. The exhibitors, less than 30 minutes after the doors were opened, almost entirely looked like they wanted to be anywhere but there.

As I stated earlier, I have never been to Bramall Lane before but Google assured me it was little more than 20 minutes walk from the train station. Google was correct and after a late train (sadly normal) I was in Sheffield around 10:05 and, even after walking around three sides of Bramall Lane before finding the main entrance, was at the Fair by 10:25, and out by 10:30…

Extracted from Google Maps from an image taken around 6 months ago. Job Fair location marked.

While i’m sure the Platinum Suite provides a more than adequate service for its intended use, namely a better-kept-than-most, function suite which you would find at many pubs, intended to be used by football fans (probably) and considerably smaller groups of people. It was categorically NOT a suitable size for a Job Fair. The place was mobbed. Not because there were thousands (Indeed.com did state 1600 interested parties, however less than 30 minutes into the 3 hours, it’s unlikely they’d have all descended on the place at once) but because the room simply wasn’t capable of comfortably holding as many people (and tables) as it was attempting. It was poorly lit, it was poorly laid out, there was absolutely no sign of coordination or an organiser and quite frankly, it was a shambles. It took me all of the 5 minutes I was in there, to make one full circuit, which given the space to walk freely would have taken as much as 20 seconds, though the requirement to stop every every other step to allow some other lost soul to seek the exit and question their life choices did give me the opportunity to determine that just about every other table was a social care employer. Betfred get a shout out for being one of the very few I noticed which was not, and was actually identifiable. I’m sure there others however they were lost in the shuffle. All things considered, and as much as I like Sheffield, I’d really quite like to have my travel costs reimbursed for the wasted trip.

The Child was ill (Chickenpox, presumably) and had demanded McDonalds for dinner (the little gannet worked her way through a cheeseburger, half of another cheeseburger AND 4 chicken nuggets) as I left the house, except I had not expected to be in a position to head there so soon and I would have to wait until the breakfast menu was replaced. No issue though, I wasn’t sure on the best route so the simple act of trying to locate the nearest McDonalds would help pass the required time. I turned to Google Maps again, trusting to (mostly) keep me right and on the correct path. At this point it should be noted that my mobile phone is not long for this world, can only be charged wirelessly, and requires a 90 degree headphone adapter, held in place by an elastic band, with the headphones plugged into that. Oh, and the call listening speaker-part (technical term) doesn’t work so calls need to be made via speakerphone, though that last part is not relevant to anything which transpired during the Sheffield trip.

I have a great many lists of things that I ‘need’ to watch and/ or listen, as appropriate. A podcast list of 1400 episodes, YouTube ‘watch later’ of 300+ videos and spreadsheet(s) of lists of albums and song cover versions and movies and tv series’ (which I have not seen for a while and may have actually lost)

I learned the hard way that watching things on a phone while walking does not generally end well and so I instead use the time to catch up on podcasts. If you’ve been paying attention though, you’ll know my phone is a POS, and required use of the on-train usb socket to power the wireless charger, which then required to sit on my leg due to the absence of a table, resulting in an unpleasantly warm leg but a slightly more charged phone. I’m not sure how comfortable I would be having my phone connected directly to the train via usb but using the wireless charger means that the cable is only drawing power and not potentially sharing any (more) data. It also means that the phone requires to be set up with 3.5mm adapter (and elastic band) then placed into a pocket and left untouched lest it be confused and require action to resume playing.

So, the long scene-setting aside, Google Maps was instructed to direct me to the nearest McDpnalds and while it will happily permit another source (i.e. a podcast) to continue, occasionally it will chime in with ‘helpful’ guidance, though it also intermittently tells me to make turnings which don’t exist. On this occasion however, instead of offering assistance, it simply repeated ‘This is what it will sound like when navigating with google maps’ over, and over, and over, every 5 seconds for a good couple of minutes until it both became obvious that it was not going to stop, and had made it safely across the crossing but hey, i’m sure it’s not the first time the denizens of Sheffield have witnessed a Scotsman yelling at his phone in the middle of the City Centre…

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