A couple of things started me thinking about all the different jobs I’ve worked. Firstly, someone at my current retail job asked me how many jobs I’d had. Secondly, I followed on twitter as Love Audrey
completed her final day retailing with excitement, to start on many exciting projects with Love My Dress
, and far beyond, I should imagine.
The number of jobs I came up with was eighteen. Is that a lot in about 12 years of employment? I have no idea. What’s your number? (As a particular phone service once asked.)
Thinking about it again, I don’t know if I remembered the two years in succession as a Christmas gift wrapper, wrapping Chanel No.5 for pink faced farmers to give to their wives as Christmas presents. The male managers were all known by their title, ‘Good morning Mr Alan’, and the women on the shop floor by their first names, ‘Good morning Jean’. Retro jobs, definitely not as good as retro dresses.
I also don’t know if I remembered to include the few months part time in a small boutique chocolate shop, where the back room was filled with sacks of chocolate buttons- milk, dark and caramel, and trying handmade chocolates was part of getting good ‘product knowledge’. It was around the corner from a hospital, and regularly customers would come in to buy big displays and ranges of chocolate for the nurses who’d looked after their relatives. Not being allowed to use the heating in the shop for fear of melting the chocolates, the manager used to wear a hot water bottle in her apron. It went bust, the shop not the hot water bottle, in the end – hopefully not because of staff enthusiasm for knowing their product well.
The eighteen includes several return stints, teaching at the same summer schools, admin roles, one emergency phone, a range of countries, bosses and colleagues, and a huge amount of exposure to the general public. They are at times, crackers – take the adult woman who stamped her foot- actually stamped her foot – because all the places in a free course were taken. Plus many and various other unusual reactions to normal circumstances I cant even begin to list here. Any customer service providers will have a bunch of these stories too.
It won’t surprise many people to know that the food industry seems most keen to readily accept and employ people without experience and fail to train them – from being a seventeen year old waitress, to helping to run a Front of House more recently, the minutes of actual factual training I received could probably be counted on my fingers, and at a push maybe my toes too.
Working under lots of different people (narf narf), has also been an interesting experience. It’s often a strange dynamic – an interdependent relationship between employee and employer can work really well, when professionalism or friendly good will is involved. When these are lacking, then things can become more difficult.
What is strange, is that working independently, you live the adversarial relationship in your head. In fact, you make yourself feel more guilty for not completing work for yourself, or not working long enough hours, than anyone else could induce in you.
Take a sunny afternoon, or a long leisurely breakfast – if once in a while, a boss offered you the chance to lie in the sun because it’s sunny, or take a long breakfast because your other half happens to be at home too, you’d be chuffed. Even if you’ve started working for yourself to allow yourself more flexible working hours, even if you’ve worked into the wee hours on many previous occasions and can afford the time, it’s difficult to justify to yourself. Which is ridiculous – why do all the extra business thingymajiggs if you’re not going to take the benefits?
Maybe this attitude is also true as you take on more responsibility in employment. One particular joyful Sunday morning, before 7am, someone phoned in sick to my mobile. Mr Moll’s sleepy response? ‘Phone them up and and tell them she’s phondd in sick.’ To which the only response was ‘I can’t – I am them!’
At this point, I should probably apologise to Mr Moll for various jobs – he has also been previously woken up at 2am while I sat straight up in bed and babbled Spanish on the emergency phone, and waited at a random DLR station because I couldn’t go through a tunnel, because I was too busy talking down a crying German girl, and helped sweep a floor and move furniture. Not that he gets off lightly now – he does a lot of accompanying and photo taking for Moll and Mostin. I do generally allow him to sleep through the night though. I’m generous like that.
So have I learnt anything about work from all the different things I’ve done? Probably not enough. Variety is the spice of life? Well it certainly does add to your story collection. Probably to trust your instincts – if a work place seems like a bit of a nightmare it probably is. If you feel like you need to get out, you definitely should (if you’re in a position to). And if you’re not sure whether you were made to do your job, find someone who was. Seeing a made-to-be teacher in action, was what I really needed to know I’m not.