Saturday, 1 September 2012

My money-off voucher

When we came to live here, I had to register myself as a job-seeker with the French equivalent of the Job-centre. I had been registered as such with the Dutch authorities, who refused to see that someone of about 60 did not stand much chances in finding a job in his trade as qualified engineer for a salary far above the minimum wage. However, rules are rules in the Netherlands and if I did not apply for a job at least 4 times a month I would loose my unemployment benefit. The lady who dealt with me in Mâcon made it very clear to me that she perfectly understood that a foreigner of 60 years old, speaking pidgin French in a country where the retirement age at the time was still 60 was not high on the wanted list of the few employers around here offering the specialised work I did in the past.
She struck a deal with me, and registered me as “looking for work, with dispensation to actively apply for a job”. There was no money involved; I simply had to wait till my pensions from the Netherlands started rolling in.
What I received however was a piece of paper we referred to as my “money-off voucher”. This piece of paper enabled me to enter museums free of charge or at a reduced price, gave me a nice reduction on the price of the cinema in Cluny, etc. In a word, this piece of paper was worth its weight in platinum.
Recently my voucher expired, because indeed money was coming in from the Netherlands. Of course one has to inform the French authorities (Assedic, now Pôle-emploi) of this sad event, which I dutifully did. But it certainly hurts, having to pay full fare for Cluny abbey and getting a mediocre reduction for pensioners in stead of the royal reduction for “Chercheurs d’emploi”.
The voucher can easily be Photoshopped to give it another year, but I have not lived 65 years in relative honesty to became a hardened criminal at 65...

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