Friday, September 10, 2010
My journey continues...
Isn't it ironic that in the Autumn of my life I am in a place where I need to reinvent myself! Just when I thought I could sit back and rest a little - life has other plans for me. I have worked for most of my adult life minus the ten years that I spent at home to have children and give them a good foundation in life - an investment that I have never regretted. The rest of the time I have worked full time, part time, flexitime and overtime to accommodate their needs and those of the family. I thought that I was done with work but recent events have made me reconsider and it has become a necessity that I get back to the grindstone. I am not 100% sure where my energy is going to be focused but the decision has made me reflect on what I am qualified and experienced to do. I am multi skilled and multi talented and have had many jobs in my lifetime!
My introduction to the world of work happened while I was aged 15 and still at school - I worked in a cake shop on a Saturday and was possibly the only assistant who ate more cakes than she sold. It was a very busy bakery - at Christmas there was a man employed to control the queue for fresh bread and mince pies! My working overall was pale yellow and I had to wear plastic gloves. I learned three important things from that job - cakes are very fattening and yellow does not suit me and plastic gloves make your hands sweat - I have never worn either since!
While I was an art student - aged 19, I worked at the post office delivering the mail one Christmas. I loved that job! Out in the fresh air tramping the frosty ground - I was given the postal route around where I lived - which was in the country. I got to meet so many lovely people and some of them used to wait for me on the doorstep with the offer of a hot cuppa and sometimes a piece of buttered toast. I will never forget one old lady to whom I delivered a small package - a Christmas gift. She was so surprised when I rang her doorbell and told her there was a package for her, "What could it be?" she asked incredulously. "Looks like a Christmas present." I replied and after a moments hesitation she asked politely if I would come in and open it with her. From this job I learned that opening a gift is no fun unless you have someone to share the experience and that for some people the postman was the only human being that they saw or spoke to all day.
I also worked as a waitress in a football club whilst studying and this taught me how alcohol changes people and never to argue with a person under the influence as their reasoning is impaired and you are wasting your time. I had some lovely customers though and my regulars used to sit on my 'patch' just so I could serve them. I occasionally spilt beer over them too but the were very forgiving. My wardrobe was influenced by my finances - the shorter the skirt, the more money I made in tips. My hemline was my economic barometer!
My first permanent job was in a bank and I may not have been the quickest money counter - we did it by hand not machine - but I had the longest queue not because I was slow but because people wanted a friendly chat and I have always had a cheerful smile and a willing ear. On Fridays I went in a black taxi cab with a locked metal box full of money to the local glass company and opened the on-site bank we had there. No armoured vehicles in those days and I was blissfully unaware that I could have been in any danger! My experiences at the bank taught me that I was a peoples' person and not an admin person and what's more - Customers liked that!
I worked in a travel agency for a while and loved sending people away on exciting holidays - I loved looking at the brochures. From this job I learned that the world was a big place and I wanted to see it all.I was also fired for wearing hotpants to work! I refused to go home and change on the rationale that the said hot pants were actually quite tepid and my mini skirt was shorter. I took the agency to an Industrial tribunal and won my argument and compensation. Hmm - perhaps I should have persued a career in law. NO - all that paperwork!!
My first job in SA was in the offices at Woolworths and yes - I had to learn to work the till as part of my training - things weren't scanned and you had to code purchases. I once put a pair of underpants through on the meat code - don't ask me why, but when the supervisor came to sort it out - she just said the word 'boerwors' to me to have us both is fits of laughter. My face was bright red as the poor gentleman stood there with his Y Fronts in his hands! At Woollies I learned many lessons, as I was getting to grips with a whole new culture but a couple that stand out for me are how difficult some customers could be, that there was a difference between service and servant and that the SA general public hadn't yet realised it. I also learned that the biggest losses in retail - shrinkage - occurred through theft by their own staff. I learned that those who protested the loudest when told this were sadly usually the offenders!
It was only when I got into Human Resources and especially the development of people that I really connected with my purpose. I love watching people's minds open to possibilities - those 'Aha' moments when things click into place and being part of that process is very rewarding. I have spent 15 years in this field and I have learned that we are all here to learn our own unique lessons, there are no mistakes only lessons, lessons are repeated until they are learned and that learning never stops. I suppose what the universe is trying to teach me is that I have work still to be done and perhaps if I sit still for long enough and reflect quietly then my 'Aha' moment will come.
So my journey continues.......