I spent last summer jobless. While many of my friends would wake up bright and early to head off for a days hard work, I would lie in way past midday. It’s not that I didn’t try. I sent my CV out everywhere, but after the first month of trying I gave up hope.
When I started my final year at Portsmouth, Christmas Temp jobs were advertised everywhere. Even after being brutally rejected during the summer, I decided to give it another shot. I wasn’t expecting any replies, so was rather shocked when I got offered two jobs within the span of two days. Here I’ll tell you my trials and tribulations of working two jobs: the highs, the lows, the fall outs and the triumphs.
The first job I was offered was by a small calendar business. I went in to meet new my boss *Adam, and soon realised this job wasn’t for the faint hearted after he told me the story of how a girl the previous week couldn’t hack it and ran home crying. Adam, I realised, was a complete man’s man. He hated children, old people and the idea of ‘happiness’ in general and counted ‘hunting’ for his dinners and Cadets as being his main hobbies. Being stuck with him alone for hours on end was a crazy mind-rattling experience. He whizzed through the till training expecting me to know everything straight away.
So after I messed up on the till a couple times in the beginning, I was given a mouthful from hell. I was even smacked with a threat of being fired -something I was beginning to hope he would do due to my sheer shock of his brutality. I couldn’t handle working for him and cringed every time he returned from his cigarette break. After a teary phone call to my mum, I made the decision to stick it out. Soon I became accustomed to his outrageous rants and sickeningly feminist jokes.
The manual labour of heaving heavy boxes back and forth from the stock room was also part of my job. There would be times when I couldn’t lift them, and I would be lugging them across the floor with all my might. Adam didn’t seem to bat an eyelid. It was a man’s world after all -if I couldn’t handle it I could go back to the kitchen, as he disgustingly put it. I soon became unfazed by his comments. One time a customer’s card didn’t get authorised and he screamed at me in front of her like it was my fault.
It all got too much and I put my hands up in the air, screamed ‘Fuck you’ at him and ran to the loo. I was flabbergasted when I wasn’t fired, seeing as even he seemed stunned that a girl of 5ft 4 could stand up to him. When people I knew walked by, I would master the skill of hiding behind calendars. I didn’t want anyone to see me slaving away at work.
Slaving away wasn’t quite so much the deal when working at the lingerie section of a well known department store.
It all sounded very glamorous, but after two days standing outside the fitting rooms for hours on end, I was driven absolutely mad. It wasn’t that I was told to sort out all the bras on display in order, many a times I would end up sifting through the same set of bras and doze off into my own little world. Sometimes It was so dead that I even managed to hide behind naked mannequins and text my friends. It felt like there was nothing else productive left to do.
* Tim, the manager was the complete opposite of Adam, yet he was very efficient. He would always be running around with a clipboard and frequently would ask me to do overtime. I happily obliged at the beginning but soon refused. Even extra money wasn’t enough to get me to work more hours. I was exhausted by standing around and doing nothing and in a weird way lost my personality a bit. I felt incredibly intimidated by the girls who worked there, so I usually kept quiet. Not that I even wanted to bond with them really (they weren’t my cup of tea), I think they realised that too, which resulted in them giving me ‘pity’ smiles every time I walked by.
The till would always send me into a cold panic as well. Different vouchers for different items purchased became a drag to put through the till. Many times, when I would swipe a voucher through and the till would shriek loudly, other sales assistants would run up and try to sort out what went wrong. They would then leave with an annoying look plastered across their face. It wasn’t my fault and I’m sure it sounded terrible, but working there wasn’t my life and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to enjoy it.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Working with *Adam turned me into a beast. I was soon ripping open deliveries, stocking them with one eye open and became an ultimate whizz at the till. As much as I wanted to punch Adam at the beginning, I developed a thicker skin and learnt to appreciate his company and point of view from which he worked. Working at the department store was a great reminder to me also that if you wanted to work somewhere more glamorous you had to start at the bottom.
I learnt to suck it up and deal with it. Working two jobs did become a strain on my time though. University work was frequently pushed aside as I went in for work. Also sometime before leaving for work I would look in the mirror and realise I would still have my department store name tag on, when going in for my other job. It all became a bit too much and now that it’s all over I would like to focus more on my third year work ( eek !). Who knows though, by the time you’re reading this I may have found another job, but in no way am I going to work crazy hours like I did before and I am definitely going to take it more easy.
*Names have been changed
Photography by Michal Marcol, www.freedigitalphotos.net.