When I was 14 I worked in a butchers. Glam. I mean, in fairness, I loved it. But it’s a job where I was constantly reassuring whoever I was speaking to “but it was the cooked meat side” as if handling a hot ham shank was better than a raw steak or a link of sausages.
My Saturday job made me who I am
I worked there for over 2 years. We had quite a routine; Dad would (usually) drop me off and I’d be ready to clock in for half seven or quarter to eight and I’d slice and butter a hundred bread cakes before the shop opened and the other Saturday girls (and one or two boys) started. I’d serve on until four then it’d be time to start clearing up. The perks were that we got free pies or pasties and a bonus at Christmas. I earned thirty three pound eightie a week, which is a shit load when you live at home and want for nothing.
I started that job a meek little thing, unsure of who I was and shy when people spoke to me. I think I’d describe myself, at that point, as one of the quiet ones at school.
Two years on and I bagged myself an interview for a job in a proper office. I chatted to the lady who interviewed me about her recent engagement. She’s now married with a bambino, we had a weekend away in 2012- it’s strange how colleagues become friends over time, I always think that. Strange in a brilliant way, though. By this point I was 16, and making the most of my newly-received National Insurance Number. That was eight years ago. Wow. I got the job and I couldn’t quite believe it.
This meant I’d be at school (GCSE’s) Monday to Friday and working Saturday and Sunday. I didn’t mind because Sundays were quiet and I’d take my homework with me to do. I got a sharp pay rise and discovered buying whatever the hell I wanted. I properly thought I was a woman of the world. I made friends and chatted easily. I thought it was because I was the baby, but as I grew up communication only got easier.
I went off to uni and was sad to leave. To top up my student loan I worked three six A.M starts (two before uni and a Saturday) at Tesco. I was the first person to scan anything at the newly opened Liverpool One store and even got to meet Keith Chegwin who cut the ribbon (a pretty piss poor claim to fame, although I did sit adjacent to Mr Burton from Educating Yorkshire in The Botanist recently.)
Then I got to go back to Thomas Cook. Where I ended up meeting my future wife (not in a neurotic way- she actually is). Now, if that wasn’t written in the stars, I don’t know what is.
Nowadays – I sound ancient- some people seem to skip working on Saturdays and spend their time planning their “travelling route”.
Now, I have a friend who’s presently travelling Europe (read her blog here: http://solivagantspinster.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0 ). She’s doing it how I would call “properly”. She’s travelling round and staying in hostels and working a little later into her trip.
But then I hear about other travelling experiences. And when I say hear; see it on Facebook when they update every hour. Note: staying by a pool-side, sipping cocktails and going to a full moon party is not travelling.
Travelling, really travelling, is surely about experiencing things, seeing different cultures. Make some memories and remembering them yourself, not virtually.
What I think people are missing, are some hard graft. Real life experience. The kind that you don’t put on your CV or your Facebook page but really make the difference. That turn you from that meek 14 year old into a confident young woman. At least, it worked for me.