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Blog challenge – Day 5/Your First Job
We all start working at different ages and for different reasons. What was your first job? Where did you work? What was your schedule like? Why did you start working there?
When one of my sisters became poorly and could not do her usual paper-round, I stood in for her for 1 week, so that she didn’t lose the position. And that was my first taste of having a job, being responsible for a role, fulfilling that responsibility to the best of my ability and receiving payment at the end of the week.
I recall returning my newspaper bag to the sweet shop owner each day, long after others had returned theirs. I seem to have taken longer delivering the dratted newspapers to his customers on my allotted route. Whether this was because I was more painstaking than the others I have no idea. I certainly didn’t want to mess things up for my sister.
I remember feeling excited about the role for the first 1 or 2 days but after that the necessity of having to get up super-early and the novelty of the job soon wore off. I couldn’t wait for the week to be over! This paper-round however, was not my true first job, since it was not a position that offered regular employment and was not wholly mine.
Well, I subsequently secured a Saturday job at a local drycleaners. I was so pleased I’d landed this position and the proprietor, Mr Williams, was very nice to me. I believe I held that position for a few years. What I cannot recall is whether I had this post in addition to my day job, or whether it was purely a Saturday job—a means of earning pocket money, since my parents couldn’t afford to give us any. It’s just that I don’t think I could have been less than 15-16years old. Now I come to think of it, I believe it may have started out as a Saturday only job but that I continued working there for a while (at Williams Drycleaners), even after I began working properly elsewhere, as a full-time employee.
Williams Drycleaners had a reputation for offering an excellent service. I did not appreciate it at the time, thinking a drycleaners is a drycleaners. But my own experiences since, of a less than desirable service from other establishments; complaints from my husband about the lack of good drycleaners (who don’t put double creases into his trousers and who return your items looking crisp and clean—not shiny, or in the same unclean condition in which they were handed over), plus the anecdotes from one of my brothers, whose cleaning and mending instructions were not followed to the letter, made me realise this is not the case!
My first full-time job was as a typist in the Civil Service. I worked in the Land Registry Department. My boss, the typing pool supervisor, was most impressed with my typing and presentation skills. I am not surprised because I had learnt to touch type at the age of 13 or 14 years old.
Do you remember when salesmen used to call at your door selling their wares? Well I believe a salesman from the Scheidegger Training Institute had called at ours and my father, who wanted me to have better prospects than becoming a factory worker, decided to enrol me. I learned how to touch type, and earned a Diploma confirming I’d completed the “ten-finger touch method typewriting course including copy and speed typing, use of English and letter writing”. I was very proud of this achievement, especially as I’d achieved it outside of the school curriculum and a good 2-3 years before I actually left school.
Well, dear reader, my civil service job lasted approx 2-3 weeks!
I believe I was one of the youngest in the typing pool. I’d not been there a full week when I felt bored and wanted to leave. My other colleagues constantly moaned about how they hated their job and hated working there. I wondered why they didn’t leave and decided I did not want to turn into someone who stayed in a job they detested, yet moaned to all and sundry about how unhappy they were. So I decided to leave and I did.
Looking back, I can now understand those women. I was young, living at home, with no responsibilities. They were probably married, had a mortgage, plus bills to pay and children to raise. They could not afford the luxury of walking out of a secure job at whim. They had to be responsible. They were adults!
Now because I had this typing ability and because my father had sacrificed to pay for my tuition, I wanted to honour his sacrifice and please him. I did not want his sacrifice, or the skill it had secured, to go to waste, so I decided I’d become a secretary or a personal assistant.
My mother however, wanted me to use the excellent dress-making skills she’d passed on to me and secure a job in the fashion field. I later regretted not trying to pursue this.
Perhaps I would have been a fashion designer now, or held some other position in the glamorous world of fashion. And who knows, perhaps (unlike Meryl Streep), I would have become The Angel Who Wears Prada!
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