Time for round two of my interview with the lovely South African Sea Monkey. (Yes – she did ask me quite a lot of questions! Sea monkeys are a curious bunch…)
What other jobs have you done? she asked me while peeling a banana daintily.
Other jobs? So, not my current jobs… (I can tell you more about these in another post one day, if you’re interested.)
Let me see: I worked in the school holidays as a cashier at a large supermarket. It was very stressful when we were busy and people shouted at me for being so clumsy at the till. And yet, at times I felt as if I were a therapist. Old dears would come in during the calm periods of the week just to chat because they were lonely. They all had their favourite ‘girl’ at the till and would queue up just to talk to us. Sweet!
I took a secretarial course in my year off and temped in various offices both near home and in London. My worst job in Londoon was when I worked at a prestigious PR company after university: the men were all so sexist and treated me as if I had no brains at all! My funniest moment came when I was a temporary secretary at a London council department. It was compulsory to stop working for coffee mid-morning and tea in the afternoon. The old ladies in their cardigans asked me to ‘please work more slowly so that you don’t show us up!’
One of my most rewarding jobs was when I worked at a home that looked after young adults with mental and physical impediments. Apart from changing tubes and catheters, the job entailed taking out the young people and .. wait for it… cooking for them! My boss told me that he wasn’t sure how they managed to survive my first weeks there because of the cooking, but after a while, I managed to learn a few set meals that I could cook without burning too much! Poor them…
I grew fiercely attached to these difficult but wonderful kids (OK – I was a kid too, about 23!) and would rage against people who thought that they shouldn’t be seen at the public swimming pool, for example, because they scared the ‘normal’ children by being ‘not normal’. It nearly broke my heart to leave them when the time came to go to China as a volunteer teacher with the British government aid program, VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas). I wrote about some of my memories from that time here.
Other jobs include: teacher of English as a Foreign Language (in Spain, China and the UK). Waitress in Australia. Organizer of a ballet festival in Spain. Oh – and cook on a ship in northern Australia. Now – that is the stuff for another post!