Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, September 05, 2008


It must be nearly 30 years since I last signed on the dole but I did it today. It wasn't that difficult to be honest. I had to go to Elda which is some 25kms from home. That may have been a bit tricky if I didn't have a car as I think there are two buses a day.

I started at a Social Security office just to ask what the process was, whether it was worth while, how it would affect my health care etc. The woman who dealt with me was very pleasant though she sent me to the wrong office and gave me directions that had me wandering around miles from my final target.

The normal system in "official" Spanish offices is to take a deli counter number and wait till you're called. I did that in the next office, when I finally found it. There is hardly ever an information desk so you take your chance on being in the right place. Fortunately for me the security guard was either bored or inquisitive and asked me what I was up to. He told me I had to start in another office and gave me vague directions.

In office number three I registered as unemployed and I was told my next sign on date - three months away - and then sent, along with the appropriate forms back to the security guard office. He welcomed me as a long lost friend and told me what to do, where to wait etc. The process of applying for the money, about 70% of the average of the last six months pay packet, took about five minutes. And there I was, another statistic in the huge rise in Spanish unemployment figures over the past few months.

The offices were all relatively welcoming, none of the protective screens or fixed chairs I remember from similar offices in the UK, and nobody gave me any indication that they thought I was a scrounging foreigner which I had rather expected. I just hope all goes well with the new job in Ciudad Rodrigo and I never actually get around to receiving any of the money which I know from Maggie's experience, takes a long time to come.

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