Last week I went to the supermarket where I was served by a nervous teenager. He was probably working part time whilst studying. I could not help but cast my mind back to my own chequered part time employment history while I was a schoolboy and student. Given the sometimes precarious nature of legal aid work it seems appropriate to look at what other skills I might have
My first job in WH Smith aged 15 ended in dismissal after 3 weeks. I am not entirely sure what I did wrong. It was unfortunate that when I was on the till the police were called because of the queue all the way round the store and half way down Edgware High Street.
Once I recovered from the post-traumatic stress of being rejected by a major retailer and the long term career implications of such a dismissal I got a job in Martin the Newsagent in Mill Hill. I was very happy here and worked there for over a year and half. In fact one my greatest achievements as a salesman took place in that period when a man came in and asked if we had a magazine called “Ero”. I replied “no, but we had a chocolate bar called Aero”. He said “ok, I’ll have that!”
This job came to an end when I was studying for my A levels but my next gainful part time employment was on the food section in Marks and Spencer’s in Brent Cross. This was a never to be forgotten experience. When the store opened at 10.00am it was like starters orders in a horse race. The doors would swing open; shoppers who had waited patiently armed with their trolleys invaded the store heading straight for the food displays.
My last day in this job was marred by an unfortunate experience which in fact was not linked to me leaving. I was on the till, there was a queue (of course) and a man with his trolley appeared before me. He said “it’s such a pain doing the food shop, but I have lost my wife”. He said it quickly and without emotion and I formed the view that his wife had abandoned him in Brent Cross to do the food shop whilst she shopped somewhere more interesting.
I responded as helpfully as possible “there’s a place you can go upstairs where they will make an announcement and arrange a meeting”
He replied immediately “No she died”. There was stunned silence as all the customers behind him in the queue looked on disapprovingly. I arranged immediately to be relieved on the till. Fortunately there was no need for security. As I said above this was my last day.
When I was a student I got a part time job as a van driver delivering and collecting people’s ironing. In my adolescent teens I cannot deny having seen the series of terrible films “ confessions of a window cleaner/ plumber etc” and I wondered optimistically as a student looking for some adventures whether I would be writing my own sequel.
That was not to be. I did suffer death by a hundred hangers when having to do an emergency stop in the van all of the garments were thrown forward with the hangers lodging in my neck. However my worst experience was when I went to a block of flats with 2 entrances each one in a different street. I could not park so I abandoned the van in the road as I rushed in to deliver the ironing. The customer gave me some more clothes for ironing and I rushed back to the van but unfortunately went out a different entrance. Not realising what I had done I thought with horror I had lost the van, everything in it and my job. I could hear a great deal of hooting though where I had caused a traffic jam and eventually found the van and many other angry drivers stuck behind the van.
There were other jobs with other mishaps and as I read this back now I realise it is lucky I have had my present job for 26 years as I may in fact be otherwise unemployable.
On a slightly serious note I guess it was these jobs and first experiences in work that gave me some valuable life experiences. I try to avoid Brent Cross.