The Conversation

Man on Benefits 7 Years Refuses Job over Hat That Ruins His Curly Hair

Can this possibly be real? An interviewer on a London radio show spoke to Paul from Clerkenwell about why he has been on unemployment benefits for 7 1/2 years now. Paul explained that he was offered a job at a bakers but had to leave after the manager surprised him with the need to wear a hat.

"I just said do I have to do that, do I have to wear a hat? I’ve got quite long curly hair" Paul told radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer, adding "If you saw my hair, you wouldn’t want to put a hat on that. I take pride in my hair." The hat wasn't the only point of contention for Paul. He also refused to refer to customers as "Sir" or "Madam."

Since losing the job at the bakery, Paul got offered another job at a packing warehouse. It was all going well until Paul was told to call the manager "Mr. Davis." Paul was offended that "Mr. Davis" would only refer to him as "Paul" saying this sounded like some kind of "echelon."

Paul goes on to say that he had just spoken to guys who were depressed after work because they hate their jobs. "I don't understand" Paul explained "It's such a terrible life for these people." Host Julia Hartley-Brewer sounded exasperated and tried to put things in context for Paul.

Hartley-Brewer: Here's the thing. You think it's too demeaning to wear a hat and call someone sir or madam or Mr. Davis but you don't think it's demeaning to take taxpayer's money to fund your life?

Paul from Clerkenwell: Yeah but, a long time ago I did work so I've paid into the system it's just I'm taking a little bit back now, you know. I have actually paid in for a long time, years ago.

Hartley-Brewer: You were unemployed seven years in December. We're heading on for eight years unemployment. I doubt very much...

Paul from Clerkenwell: It's seven and a half it's not eight. It's seven and a half now.

Hartley-Brewer: I doubt very much that, with all due respect to you Paul, that you've paid in enough that you've covered every single penny of the seven and a half years you've been living off other taxpayers.

Listening to the interview, Paul from Clerkenwell comes across as a parody of what someone on benefits would say. It's a little hard to believe anyone could be so unashamed about taking advantage of the system for this length of time. But the show's host seems to be taking him seriously, having spoken to him twice before. She also mentions, in the audio clip above, that she has spoken to people who know him in his neighborhood and who claim his story is legitimate. So either Paul is real or he's putting on a very convincing show.


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