In an ironic twist of fate, I got a job as a supervisor at a Work for the Dole (WFD) program in 2016. Being a broke-ass writer, I had gone into a job provider to apply for a No Interest Loan Scheme so I could buy a new computer. The lady who arranged the NILS asked if I would mind if her supervisor sat in to observe the process. I started chatting to the Soup about this and that and she was interested with what I was doing with Green Ant Press. After the NILS application was done, the Soup asked me if I would like a job as a WFD supervisor. At the time, Job Seekers doing WFD were made to produce a magazine and due to my experience with Green Ant Press she figured I would be a good fit.
A few weeks later, I was sitting in a classroom with a brand new commercial-sized Xerox printer and a stationary cabinet filled with everything I needed to produce a magazine. The casual rate was $40 an hour.
There were a dozen clients in my class and the magazine they were producing was called ‘The Inner West Review – Inspiring and Informing Diversity.’ It came out once a month and was distributed among Job Centres. As you can imagine, it was a boring sack of piss and shit.
Forget everything you hear about Work for the Dole in the lying media. There is no upgrading of skills in WFD – it is purely harassment. Anyone who was capable of getting a job did so to get out of WFD. Those unfortunates that were left were addicts, mental health clients, people who had been made redundant and those who had been disempowered by the welfare state. If you get pissed off about dole bludgers blowing your taxes, keep in mind that the dole/pension accounts for 30% of money stolen by the government in taxes whereas companies like the one I worked for siphon 70%.
When it comes down to it, I was an adult babysitter. The Job Seekers had to sit in a room for 7.5 hours a day, three days a week and work on this dumb fucking magazine which no-one read. The Job Seekers I had in my class were a bunch of awesome cunts and we had a grand time together, I guess you could say I related to them. I let them have 2 hour lunch breaks and heartily encouraged drug use and drinking whenever they had a break. Lead by example as they say. I immediately started subverting the magazine too – I just couldn’t help it. As they were working on an Australia Day issue, I put a huge Australian Flag on the cover and went through it replacing their pictures with really weird and inappropriate ones. On the last page, I wrote an article called The Syrup Shack:-
(((The Syrup Shack is a new pop-up on Marrickville Rd. It caters to the “café racer” crowd; hipsters who ride old fashioned motor bikes. On their weekend rides they crave a super sugary hit and that’s where the Syrup Shack comes into its own. The Shack serves up delicious icy cold syrups in ultra-cool jam jars. Their syrups are sourced from local syrup makers within a ten kilometer radius.
“I like to think of the Syrup Shack as a syrup emporium as we only sell the best syrups in Sydney.” Says the proprietor, Jonty Driver.
Indeed, the shack has many unique syrup flavours that aren’t available anywhere else, such as Blueberry Lard, Raw Beef Stink, Luddite Meat Dream and Slippery Eel. Their best-selling premium syrup is called ‘Thumping Blood Wart’.
“On a good night we can get through 100 Thumping Blood Warts in an hour.” Says Jonty.
When it comes to staff relations, Jonty has a taste for the absurd. “I like to keep my employees on their toes with ‘Syrup Japes’ – syrup related pranks. For example, just the other day I was driving along the Princes’ Highway in my SUV when I spotted one of my employees riding his motorbike. I keep a bucket of syrup in the floor-well of the passenger seat for just such an occasion. As I passed him at speed, I threw the syrup at him. The bucket hit him in the head causing him to fall and he actually ended up having quite a nasty accident. I believe it is important to look at the funny side in such situations. On another occasion, we had a young lady who had just started. On her second day, I played a classic syrup-jape on her. I balanced a steel bucket filled with boiling hot golden syrup on the top of a door. Unluckily for her, she copped a full bucket on the head – she was quite a looker but the syrup took care of that! I am Irish and playing jokes is a part of my heritage and culture, much like limericks and drinking, so anyone who criticizes my behavior is racist.”
Probably not the best way to treat your staff, but that is what makes the syrup Shack such a success, a willingness to break all the rules without regard for consequences and a genuine hatred for the restrictive constraints visited upon the sovereignty of the individual by an overbearing and repressive state or as Jonty so succinctly puts it “This is a silent epidemic of state control by proxy. Political correctness is tyranny with a smiling face. I like to think that with every jar of syrup that I sell to hipster filth we are telling the government that we aren’t going to take it anymore”. Cue Twisted Sister and I will see you at the Syrup Shack for a Thumping Blood Wart!)))
There were some objections to my editorial direction however, and one client, an elderly gay gent who drank Listerine all day, was pissed off that I had changed all the pictures in the article he wrote and that I had smeared in The Syrup Shack instead of one of his articles. I explained that it would be funny and subversive but he was on his second bottle of Listerine and was having none of it. Eventually, he acquiesced and the edition went to print. I explained to the WFD clients that there were some in society who would see the Aussie flag on the front cover and claim that the publication was racist – they were totally baffled by this so I filled them in the latest outrages of Orwellian leftists and their politically correct crusade. It was refreshing to meet a group of people who had no idea about these disturbing developments.
All of my co-workers were swell and let me do my own thing. The other WFD supervisors however, were real pieces of shit. The tight suit pants they wore made their assglobes look like shining beacons of futility and they smelt of cheap BO basher and chewed sugar-free gum with their mouths open. Their shirts were unbuttoned so that you could see the stubble of their shaved chests and they had an ambition that dwarfed their intellect. In other words, they were ideal government employees.
On principle, I refused to learn the idiosyncrasies of the government websites I had to use. They were counter-intuitive and perfect examples of government incompetence. Because I refused to grasp all but the very basics of the systems, the other supervisors thought I was a real dumb cunt which suited me fine as I have found the best way to deal with middle management fuckheads is to act polite and simple – it’s amazing the things you can get away with.
My typical workday consisted of reading books on Libertarianism and playing an opium dealing game that I had on my Apple II in the early 80s (taipangame.com). I had regular reefer and pub breaks as well to relieve the boredom. I let the Job Seekers do whatever they wanted. I had recently watched The Stanford Prison Experiment and was acutely aware of the corrosive effect of power, even in small doses. ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’ as the saying goes and after observing the other Supervisors I concluded that minimal power corrupts imbeciles absolutely.
Everyone once in a while I had to go to their place of work for training and I would watch in disgust as the self-important clowns pranced around and bullied, stood-over and yelled at their Job Seekers forcing them into unsuitable and unsustainable jobs. During one of these training sessions, one of the cocksuckers told me his philosophy, ‘make them uncomfortable, make them not want to be here.’ Keep in mind that many of my clients were unemployable due to mental issues and/or drug problems.
Whenever my class finished a magazine and it was sent out to the other offices, the Supervisors were too fucking dumb to pick up on my outrages. Despite the $40 an hour pay, I grew weary of dealing with the asshole Supervisors who were trying to get me fired. They couldn’t work out why I was there as I had no background in training and was doing an absolutely terrible job.
When I received a new class and they asked me what they had to do for Work for the Dole, I gave them a magazine and told them to read The Syrup Shack, and to ‘give me their thoughts’ on the article. Their reactions ran the gamut of human emotion and one guy even took it upon himself to do an ‘editors retraction’ of the article. Bill (not his real name) was an awesome cunt who had been whacking up ice for a dozen years, so his focus was ferocious. His jaw was like an iron vice and every once in a while a high pitched suckling sound would issue from his taught lips. I leant over his shoulder as he typed away on the retraction. He had bubbles with arrows pointing out the inconsistencies with the article, like the one he did for the picture I chose; ‘This graphic of the store has more to do with a burger/souvlaki take away joint than a coffee/syrup business.’
I asked him if he could leave some space at the bottom for me to insert an apology. This was my heartfelt apology; ‘The Inner West Review Supervisors note: As I was the supervisor in charge of IWR at the time that this article went to print, I must accept some responsibility for it. I sincerely apologise to any of our readers who searched for the so-called ‘Syrup Shack’ as I am pretty sure it never existed. As for ‘Jonty Driver’ – if he is a real person, he has committed multiple breaches of WHS protocols not to mention several serious crimes”.
So along with the usual boring articles, the next issue came out with an ‘Editors Retraction’ of the Syrup Shack and a movie review I did;
The Human Centipede 3
Movie Review by TED MCBEEFER
I found this movie to be a light-hearted and uplifting expose on society’s double standards when it comes to expanding and diversifying the human experience. Based loosely on a real life story, HC3 is a rom-com like no other, ie barbed wire, amyl-nitrate and true depth. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy WHS videos about office safety, you may be informed and inspired by this delightful tale of a young boys adventure in the British jail system replete with Mengelesque party tricks played on prisoners. Tom Six really knocks the diversity ball into a multicultural orbit with this movie and in no time you will find yourself humming, “eat, digest, repeat!” with a ferocity borne of inspired diversity.
The next week I had a brainwave as I waited for my clients to come back from lunch. Some of the newer ones wandered in late and said, “Sorry I’m late.” To which I responded, “I don’t give a fuck!” Once they were all present, I told them that I had an important announcement to make.
“Look, I went out for a walk on the weekend and you’re not going to believe this, but I found The Syrup Shack – it actually exists!”
I explained that we had to do a ‘retraction-of-the-retraction’ to set the record straight and that I had also managed to squeeze in an interview with the proprietor, Jonty Driver.
Bill immediately got to work on the retraction-of-the-retraction, adding a bubble with a police graphic in it and an arrow pointing at the original article and wrote, ‘NOTE: Even though the Jonty’s antics were to be fabrications, we at The Inner West Review do not advertise or condone this negligent illegal like behaviour in the workplace. If any of our readers experience anything like this…SHOULD REPORT IT TO THE POLICE.’
I had to make up something on the spot for my ‘interview’ with Jonty and below is what I came up with;
A VOX POP WITH JONTY
Imagine my surprise when I went for a stroll at lunch and happened across a pop-up store called The Syrup Shack. Dumbfounded, I walked in the entrance of the self-proclaimed ‘Syrup Emporium’ and found myself face to face with none other than Jonty Driver! I quickly explained to him the editorial whirlwind that engulfed the work-for-the-dole team from The Inner West Review in regards to his pop up store. Jonty laughed good naturedly and fixed me up a Thumping Blood Wart- it was like a cheesy brain squelch without the effervescence.
The editorial team back at TIWR were just as surprised as I was about The Syrup Shack existing. So we immediately did a retraction of our original retraction and I interviewed Jonty to get to the bottom of his fascinating business.
TIWR – So, Jonty, now we know that the Syrup Shack exists, maybe you could tell us why you chose a picture of a kebab shop for the image in the article?
Jonty – What are you talking about?
TIWR – The image for the original article – you used a stock image of kebab shop.
Jonty – Oh, that. Look, there were all kinds of issues and what not with the computer files uploading and downloading during emails and wires got crossed. These things happen in the big city.
TIWR – OK…Could you explain to us why you treat your staff so badly, ie ‘syrup japes’?
Jonty – I don’t treat my staff badly. That part about syrup japes was done in the spirit of parody, the bucket of syrup represents justice and truth in a metaphoric sense. I mean if I really wanted to be nasty, I would be down the Cross with a treacle business wouldn’t I?
TIWR – That didn’t make a whole lot of sense. What do you want to say to our readers who went on a wild goose chase looking for your pop up store?
Jonty – Look, I am sorry I didn’t give out my address for that original article – let’s just say that some heavy, heavy people are looking for me and we shall leave it at that. For the next week I will be offering a jar of Raspberry Rupture Blump to anyone that mentions The Inner West Review.
TIWR – Sounds good to me Jonty!
A few weeks later, I decided to quit the job and go out in a blaze of glory. So I came clean with the Job Seekers and told them that I was the author of the Syrup Shack. Everyone found it highly amusing and also a little strange. Then I told them of my plan. This was my wild dream; to put out a magazine that was cover to cover about nothing but the Syrup Shack. Then on the following Friday, I would email it out to all the other Supervisors just before knock-off time. When Monday rolled around, I would phone my boss and claim that I was in psych ward and start screaming and crying about The Syrup Shack before hanging up. The Job Seekers all agreed to tell the other Supervisors that ‘he was crazy about the Syrup Shack, it’s all he talked about and he forced us to make the magazine’.
Everything was going swimmingly until Thursday afternoon at 2pm when my boss called. I no longer had a job, ‘effective immediately’ – one of the Supervisors had actually read the ‘retraction-of-the-retraction’ issue and reported me. I announced this news to the class and one chap gave me his condolences about losing my job. “I don’t give fuck about that, I hated this job. I’m just upset we didn’t get to finish the Syrup Shack magazine.” I said.
And it was then that the troops rallied around me. All the Job Seekers expressed their desire to see the final magazine come to life. So I allocated tasks, Bill would finish off the magazine and I would quickly write some more copy. One lovely young lady even made a Facebook page for The Syrup Shack. Others printed off pages that were already finished while other Job Seekers folded them ready for assembly. I finished off another article, Bill smeared it into a page and printed it out. I thought it only fair to include the Job Seekers in the article:-
Job Seekers Reactions and Feelings About the Syrup Shack
It’s hard not to get emotional when looking back on the whirlwind of hatred that was the Syrup Shack as it contained all the beauty and horror of the world. It was such a personal experience that I sometimes forget that the Job Seekers in my Work for the Dole class also lived through those heady, heady times. So it only seemed right that I should allow the JS clients to air their feelings and reactions to the Syrup Shack in an effort to diversify their diversity in an informative way. If there is any culprit to point the finger at in this story, it is climate change and racism. Below are some of their reactions when I asked them the question, ‘How do you feel about the Syrup Shack?’ (Names have been omitted to protect the innocent)
Then I proceeded to make my way around the room like a cable TV newsman, holding a highlighter like a microphone. I asked the Job Seekers what their ‘feelings’ were and jotted them down to be transcribed under the article.
On the last page, Bill made a Find a Word puzzle that had Syrup Shack repeated in it 25 times. It was a masterpiece of ice-induced insanity.
My final article for the Inner West Review appeared beneath it:-
Syrup Shack Reprise – What Have we Learnt from it All?
It’s easy to dismiss truths as falsehoods when one has a personal filter that obscures all but the most obvious of experiences. When I first read the Syrup Shack, I found that it diversified my outlook in regards to informing proactive goal settings in a multicultural environment. However, I realised that this view was myopic and premature when I discovered the hidden subtext beneath the words and their hidden meaning in relationship to the universe within. Before long I was reading the micro-hieroglyphs embedded in the space between the letters and what stories they revealed! Words of power and words of mystery which if uttered had the power to destroy and create simultaneously – a hybrid language of such import that the vowels weighed heavy in my brain like mercury –across the aeons they beckoned to me with promises of syrupy riches and abundance beyond my wildest dreams – I crossed the threshold of civility and embraced the darkness of my subconscious and became a pillar of salt – salty salt salt with salty syrup smearing syrupy –beholden to none other than that inner sanctum of satisfied syrup with smeary syrups and salt salt salt salt – so we beat on, boats against the syrup borne back ceaselessly into the past.
With the final article finished, we spent the rest of the afternoon printing off 150 colour copies. It was a hive of activity in my WFD room and something that the Employment Consultants were totally unused to. One of them popped her head into the room.
“What’s going on?” She said.
“I’ve been fired!” I said.
It didn’t make a whole lot of sense to her but she smiled sweetly anyway. Like a good government employee, I made sure the other Supervisors received a copy before I left.
But wait, it doesn’t stop there. On my way home that afternoon, I went into several cafes and hid copies of The Syrup Shack in their reading material. A couple of weeks later, a friend emailed me. She was a member of a Facebook group called Marrickville 2020 and someone had posted this:
<<<I overheard a group of people in a café talking about the ‘Syrup place at Marrickville’ ….omg sounded AMAZING … I got the impression it’s full of amazing types of syrups…peanut butter and cranberries was something I heard … anyone got an idea where it is? Google hasn’t helped me much… maybe it has a different name than ‘syrup place’>>>
It seems that people are so open minded in Marrickville these days that their brains have fallen out. But what would I know? I’m just a cis-gendered white male surfing a diarrhoea wave of privilege as I high-five the motherfuckin’ patriarchy.