22 Nov

Employment 101

Some people have a job history, others just have the one job for life, others still work at home raising kids or from home running a business. Mine is quite a history. In fact I suspect my first few jobs instilled the distrust I carry around for sales people today. See post on salesmen here.

My very first job was in a country where teenagers work- England. The thought of working at the age of 17 was both ludicrous and exciting. So as I came across the ad for what I thought was a telephone canuasser (the writing on the display window was bad and the v looked like a u) I felt I could handle it, whatever that job meant. How hard can it be? I can dial, I can talk. The pay was £3.00 per hour and the job entailed going through a list of some 100 names,  calling each one and telling them “wow, your name was picked out of our draw and you have just won a trip to Turkey!” I had to sound excited and genuinely pleased that the gods were indeed in their favor as they  had ‘won’ this all expense paid trip to a dingy Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Turkey. I worked 3 hours per day and on my 3rd day I was “let go” as ‘head office’ decided to cut costs by closing the East London Office.

“We have to let you go Toks.” It was the first time I had heard that phrase.

“No, I’m fine you don’t have to let me go, I like it here.”

“You don’t understand- head office have decided to cut costs…”

Ahh! So that’s what let go means.  They told me they would stop by the next evening with my pay of  £21.00.  Besides learning the new term of being dismissed, by the end of the week I also learned  through experience a new word- ‘Naiveté’  as they never showed up with my £21.00.

I got my next job a few days later working for a double glazing company. This was where I learned that “commission based” was a euphemism for “voluntary”. That job lasted all of 2.5 hours. It was in 1990, the year of the worst winter for 27 years and the snow reached close to my knees. We were told to knock on doors asking for an appointment for potentially free Double Glazing. With the assurance that most sales men in the company secured a minimum of 4 appointments daily and at the rate of £25 per appointment, it was a steal.

Armed with visions of my new car, new wardrobe and  house I trudged along expecting to have 10 appointments that evening.  I didn’t have a single one. In fact no one wanted to see us.  To tell the truth I couldn’t really tell who had double glazing and who didn’t -something about an aluminium strip was mentioned earlier when the manager explained but I didn’t get it. When we returned to the base, the same guy who told us top sales people in the company made up to 10 appointments per night now said Monday nights were notoriously slow as people chose to stay in watching Coronation street. When I realised there was a soap on television every single night from Emmerdale to Eastenders and what-not, I faced up to the fact that I was working with cowboys and fled the scene of the crime.

This is a 2 part post so do come back to learn about my stint at Wimpy’s, MacDonalds, Woolworths…

Thank you for reading! Don’t hold back from sharing your thoughts in the comments box below 🙂

4 thoughts on “Employment 101

  1. Thanks for the good laugh and a trip down memory lane.

    Thank God for the being cut-eye growing… First job time keeper at Setraco right after command (my mum wanted me to learn the value of a naira). Loves it got to travel. Second job; 4 hard years at Edo State University….

    Cutting chicken and washing dishes was a breeze in the US if that counts as a second first job.

    Good one and thanks for the laughs after driving 4 hours from the Smoky Mountains; I needed that.

  2. Thank God for your mum giving you that early education. Isn’t it funny how at the time you couldn’t imagine that you’ll be looking back in time like this? I think it is a blessing to have had it difficult at first because it not only prepares you for life but you are reminded that you can do whatever it takes to get to wherever you want.
    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Toks! yee paa!! what can I say? 🙂

    I have missed reading your blog (FB msge explains why) and it is still a fresh and invigorating read.

    We all have early job horror stories, mine starting in the Philippines and later in Australia. Now with job security and all, your blog will remind me to be thankful and grateful to God even when I’m feeling over-worked 🙂
    Thank you 🙂

  4. Thanks IJ, got ur message. I failed to call you as promised 🙁
    Thanks for not forgetting about Pawpaw and Mango, we have certainly missed you here. I agree, we need to be thankful for our jobs and all that we do.

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