Today I had my appointment rescheduled by someone over the phone, so they started by asking me some security questions to check they were talking to the right person. 2 out of 3 of these questions were “when did you start claiming, roughly, and what day do I normally sign on?” So that narrows down the number of people who can fraudulently sign for me to about 300 Facebook friends then. At my new allotted time I walk in to the building and fail to miss the eye of the security guard/receptionist-without-a-desk. They always start a conversation by barking the name of the benefit for which they think you are claiming. Under hypnosis I couldn’t tell you any on the list I’ve heard but they’ve never guessed job seeker. Perhaps I don’t “look like a job seeker”. I was then told I wasn’t signing with Richard as Richard is never there on a Wednesday – I make the mental note to try harder to avoid catching the eye of the security guard in two weeks time as I am directed to the same place I have gone for over 3 months. Now 2 mins late I then wait another 15 minutes while the 2 security guards/receptionists discuss across me, almost out of earshot, incorrectly, my appointment time and what might have happened to the staff member to cause the delay. At no point do they update me. Now the fun starts. Unknown Female (remember they never reveal themselves to us) calls me over 20 mins after my nominal appt time. She asks me how my search is going. I make polite conversation about how terribly wonderful everything is. She then changes her tone and tells me in no uncertain terms that I should be signing with the same person each time. I point out that this is something only they can sort out and is well beyond my control. She repeats her command that I should sign with the same person each time. I remain silent. She then invites me to take the time to use the electronic signing pad for the first time. It’ll take a little while to train it, she says, but she’s clearly excited that I will then be able to sign on it rather than paper for all my next visits. I feel only a slight pang of sadness as I see that my montblanc pen go unused (Shirley Mitchell will understand). Training involves signing my name 6 times. I notice there are pen marks on the screen from where people have actually tried to use a pen rather than the stylus hard wired to it. *sigh* The machine hangs on the last go and we’re obliged to start again. Anyone who has signed their name repeatedly 12 times will now recognise that an Icelandic banker could have walked in and done a better job of my signature towards the end of this process but at least the system hasn’t hung. I have time to wonder that if they trust a glitchy electronic system to differentiate fraudulent signatures rather than humans with eyes and fuzzy logic processes and an ability to ask for ID if they don’t recognise the person who has presumably been signing with just them for weeks on end, it doesn’t bode well for the humans. I then actually have to sign on with the system. I read the commandments, scroll down the screen and touch “sign document”. UF nearly has a fit and asks me to read the text first. I point out I have, she says most people read slower. I point out that if you have a PhD and an MBA you learn to read quite fast. The electronic system now asks UF what my “new claim” is for and she is paralysed into inactivity, for I have the weary air of someone who is clearly not a new claimant and the computerised system has completely let her down. She folds a piece of paper in half, dates it, and hands it to me to sign. I pick up my montblanc pen……….