today was the my last day at my first job.
i have done work before, it was mostly in college. not all of that can be said not to be “work”, but it involved my working voluntarily to accomplish various things. placement secretary, organizer and volunteer at festivals, magazine editor.. but i never considered any of these a “job”. even if that does sound cheesy.
it was college, and just some of the things one does.
then i came to aberdeen for my masters, and for the first time in my life, was self-sufficient. friends, totally there. parents, always. but when you’re alone, you’re alone. and so, learn to take up your own expenses. yep, i got a part-time job. sales assistant, safeway – soon to become morrisons.
i still remember when i started work – it was a december evening in 2004. absolutely no idea what was to be done. some dude was assigned to coach me (on-the-job training, i believe the official term). 4 hours later, i walked out of the store. i’d lifted bread, arranged yoghurts, had a 15 minute break, and earned 20 pounds.
i remember the zing i got when i saw the pay in my account 2 weeks later. i’d made rent, barely. but i had earned it. lifted bread, arranged it, “faced-up”, “closed-down”; everything.
its been nearly 18 months since then. i’ve learnt how both stores operated. i’ve done everything from lifting bread to finishing the night load, reductions, cleaning, promos.. everything. i worked my ass off last december (on 2 jobs) and finally got myself a laptop. i managed to cover most of my expenses since december 2004.
and now its over. i have to move on, i will talk about ‘why’ soon.
it wasn’t the greatest job. but it was my first.
i called it ‘menial labour’, but going to that store 2-3 days a week at least helped me keep track of the week. i learnt to get up at 5 am, to go to work. and not sleepwalk; actually be wide-awake. or something like it. i learnt every song that played in the store by rote. thus, i can never listen to the ‘notting hill’ soundtrack again. i learnt of store management, and realised that education does indeed help; something my managers showed they were lacking. i found how to truly appreciate summer, and the fact that everyone will come to the store to pick up supplies in summer “dresses” 🙂 i don’t think i can ever look at bread and cakes in the same way again. i think this will be the root for some paranoic hate for them. i found friends in “misery”, and we found that misery in company becomes fun. or something like it. i learnt of scottish cuisine, and have decided that vegetarians in scotland have no sense of taste. i know my store inside out, and am pretty sure i can locate anything there blindfolded. i got my family gifts, and found the joy of being able to see that smile when you earn for something and manage to give it. i learnt to switch off my brain and work there, so that i don’t lose my brain in the mind-numbing nature of the job. i learnt to think about 3 million other things, while doing monotonous habituated work with your hands. i was amazed at the number of little things that no-one else notices in such places. i realised how nice people can be, and how well-mannered. how ill-mannered too, but that is another story. how people do appreciate us store-boys.
most of all, i learnt of the back-breaking nature of such work. i’ll never forget that little guy who gets everything on the shelf everyday.
after all, i was that guy.