I’ve now been unemployed for three months and honestly I could not be happier except that my bank balance is looking scarily low. Therefore, I applied this week for unemployment benefits and got a very unpleasant introduction to Die Agentur für Arbeit (The Agency for Work aka The Employment Agency). The people there were nice enough but it truly is German bureaucracy at its mind-numbing ‘best’. It turns out that I should have applied for unemployment benefits on the very first day that I was unemployed or up to 3 months beforehand, despite the fact I don’t qualify for unemployment benefits until 3 months after I quit my job. Therefore, I need to supply a written statement about why I applied so late. Then, there comes the matter of quitting my job. It turns out that quitting your job in Germany and not having another job to go to straight away is almost like committing a crime. I not only have to provide a written statement on the reasons why I quit my job, but also explain what I did to prevent quitting, what I did to delay quitting and explain why I quit even though my company would have fired me anyway (which they wouldn’t have) plus give the names, dates and times of the people at my company I spoke to about all of it – and I need to do all this in German. Then there comes the usual massive number of forms that you need to fill out when dealing with any public service in Germany. I find all of this so ridiculous that I have been laughing at the absurdity of it for the past 4 days.
Fortunately, things were bad enough at my previous job that I don’t lack any explanations for my reasons for quitting. I’m just worried that they won’t believe all of this stuff was actually going on. The fact that three of my former colleagues (although not from the same office as me since I was the only one there besides my boss) have handed in their resignations since I quit shows that this shit is still ongoing and probably always will until they go out of business. Words can’t describe my relief about being out of that place, even if it does mean having to deal with a mountain of paperwork and no doubt a million and one appointments with the Arbetisamt. If I actually successfully navigate this process and receive my unemployment benefits I will write a How To Guide for other foreigners in the same situation as this whole process was a complete mystery to me (and still is). For now wish me luck in surviving it all.