I genuinely didn’t know whether or not to attempt today’s journey. I’ve been very gradually starting my period over the last few days, but am not medium to heavy yet. I base each decision on my most recent trip to the loo. So just before 5:30am this morning, I ordered my taxi to my local train station. A final check to see if the “great flood” had started yet, before I set off in the taxi. It would have been easier to cancel today’s job interview if my period was already heavier. But it’s a much closer call when I’m not in full flow yet. The interview is at 2pm at a coastal location. But if I’d been unable to attend today’s interview, I doubt that they’d have been willing to reschedule it in at least one week’s time. Even then, there’s no guarantee that my period will have ended by then. My cycles aren’t regular, and usually span more than one week. I suffer from extremely heavy and unpredictable periods, and have asked for help from the DWP for years to help me tackle my many health issues, but I get fuck all help. I asked for help too from “Access To Work”, which is a complete misnomer, as they don’t offer any help prior to me securing employment, and might only offer some assistance once I’ve got a job, so fuck all use at present, basically.
I arrived at my local train station just before 6am. The Jobcentre had issued me with a travel warrant two days earlier. I’d emailed my former Work Coach at the end of the previous week, as soon as I’d received the invitation to today’s interview. My former Work Coach emailed me back on the next working day (three days before interview), to say that the earliest they could book me in for an appointment to obtain a travel warrant was the next day (two days before interview) in the afternoon. But I had to email her straight back, saying that was no good, as I had a different interview that afternoon. I also said I wouldn’t be able to attend the Jobcentre on the day before the long-distance interview, as I do a lot of preparation and research prior to travelling to interview.
So eventually, after her Line Manager had rearranged diaries/appointments for the morning of two days prior to interview, the Jobcentre were able to squeeze me in for an appointment to obtain the travel warrant.
In my humble opinion, travel warrants should be available on demand. The lack of slack in the appointments regime acts as an impediment to job seekers. I provided this helpful and constructive feedback to my former Work Coach, with whom today’s appointment had been hurriedly arranged, and she didn’t disagree with my comment.
I also asked for an alternative contact email address and direct phone number for whoever I can contact quickly when necessary, as she is no longer my Work Coach. But none is available. All calls for appointments must be made to a central number (where you can die a slow death waiting on the phone for the call to be answered!). Still, at least I now have her Line Manager’s direct email address, which I will save for emergencies.
I had offered to book the train tickets myself (as previously), and claim a refund from the DWP (as previously). But no, I had to attend an appointment at the Jobcentre, and be issued with a travel warrant.
Upon arrival at my local train station, I exchanged my travel warrant for return tickets to today’s far flung interview, which cost £268 return.
I could have booked today’s journey, on the same train, at the same times, for half that price. But the DWP is content to fritter away taxpayers’ money, as long as it follows procedure.
As I exchanged the travel warrant, I began to ask for a seat by the loos, the luggage rack, socket, and window, only to be informed that a seat can’t be reserved via a travel warrant on the same day. I really wanted to reserve a specific location of a seat, and to have my own seat, and not risk being turfed out of it during the lengthy journey. I’m very self-conscious when it’s my “time of the month”, and wouldn’t want my backside squeezing past other people’s heads during these times.
I boarded the train around 7am, and it departed a short while later. I always spend a penny before boarding a train, as toilets on trains are generally rather grim. The last time I was desperate to spend a penny on a train, it had an electrically operated door, that slid open when I pressed a button. Once inside, I sussed out which button it was to close the door, and then realised a few seconds later that there was yet another button to actually lock the door (phew). But as I’d surveyed the grotty interior, I’d realised the door hadn’t shut properly, there was a gap of a few millimetres. I wasn’t prepared to hover over a loo, when anybody passing could have glimpsed where the sun doesn’t shine, so after quickly checking that my sanitary towel hadn’t excessively flooded, I exited the loo without spending that much needed penny, and sat in agony for the remainder of the journey with my bulging bladder.
I nearly always seem to be menstruating when I have to travel any great distance. Nightmare. I don’t even like to hover over the seat of a loo on a train, unless it’s stationary. Trouble is, if it’s stationary, it doesn’t flush. So ideally it’s best if I can head to the loo, just as it’s pulling into a station for brief stop, safely hover, then flush after it’s departed again. Timing is everything.
It is a long way to travel there and back for an interview in one day, a 450 mile round trip. If it wasn’t my “time of the month”, it would be quite a pleasant journey, (apart from getting up at 3am this morning, and if the seats on the train were more comfortable – I’ve got short legs. so my feet don’t always rest on the floor properly, creating pressure on the back of my thighs).
I settle into the unreserved seat on today’s train, and become instantly aware that it will indeed be uncomfortable on my legs for the duration of the journey. If only my legs were a few inches longer. I periodically raise my knees, in an attempt to keep the circulation going down to my feet.
Just over three and a half hours later, I arrive at the destination train station on schedule. Time to spend another quick penny, then I catch two buses to the interview venue, in a stunning location, with spectacular views. I arrive at my potential new employer’s building at 11:40am. As my interview isn’t until 2pm, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask if they can squeeze me in any earlier. Luckily, they could! I was led to the interview/meeting room, and I thought the interview went rather well, apart from my lack of experience with accounting software, and I was honest enough when prompted that my weakest point is my health (heavy periods etc.). The two women that interviewed me were welcoming, and friendly, and the interview just flowed naturally. It finished at 12:15pm. I had to wait 25 minutes for the first of two buses back, so I feasted my eyes on the sea view. Then, after catching the two buses back to the train station, & spending another quick penny, I caught the 1:25pm train, arriving back at my local train station at 5pm.
I’d developed a slight headache earlier today. But during the return journey it had developed into a throbbing migraine. To cool the carriages, the staff on the train had stuck the interlocking doors open to allow the air to flow around, but it was so noisy as every rattle along the rails just ricocheted around my head. I wish I’d had earplugs. I’m also not a regular traveller, and find a 450 mile round trip in one day gruelling. That combined with the lack of sleep the night before, and the stress of menstruation (would it suddenly become heavier), resulted in me feeling quite ill. After a bit of a wait for a taxi, and enduring the 7 mile journey back to my house through the rush hour, I was back home not long after 6pm. I felt very sick from the taxi journey, and my migraine was debilitating. I soon went to bed, where the sickness and migraine continued through the night, and into the next day.
[Edit: Unfortunately, I didn’t get the job. They rang me the day after, when they’d interviewed the final candidate, who was more experienced than me. So the journey had been in vain.]