I was usually late for work.
After a decent number of years in different jobs, with different levels of responsibility, I reached the conclusion that I’m just not meant for daytime.
My time-keeping skills improve in twilight; it better suits my complexion and I’ve never once been late to a bar.
Having spent the night on a PlayStation, and glancing at internet chat rooms, one of the boys I worked with took a little lie-down in the middle of the road early one Sunday morning; chronic, Call Of Duty-related sleep deprivation doesn’t mix well with an early start.
Thankfully, he was a light sleeper and it’s a quiet area so he came in to work undamaged.
The Sunday papers are pretty heavy when they’re assembled, but it takes quite a time to slide the instantly-discarded sports, arts and weekend sections into place.
That’s what the lad was there for; to assemble the papers. We had a long list of reserves to put to one side. Generally, the reserved papers would sit in a box at the front of the shop. Over the weekend, the news was too big to be confined to the narrow wooden box, so they sat on the floor behind the till, getting covered in dusty footprints, spilt receipts and coffee that had only missed mouths by a matter of millimetres.
Around election time, a local and hopeful representative, all done up with rosettes and carrying a clipboard, went wandering around the village, canvassing the electorate.
To my knowledge, most people are pretty determined in their voting and nothing anybody says or promises will make any damn difference as to where they put their cross. As such, the eager chappy was turned away from almost every doorstep, with pledges of a definite turnout and a wall of silence on who one might be voting for.
It’s a secret ballot, putting up posters and announcing one’s preference seems to be missing the point. It’s almost unseemly.
After a thankless trudge, the potential politician reached a pale wooden door down an unmade road and tentatively raised his finger to the bell.
The door was answered and there stood one of my lads from the shop.
Practised smile and rosette tugged between index and thumb, the hopeful representative introduced himself, tapped his clipboard with his ready-clicked pen, and asked if he could have a moment of his time.
Simon smiled broadly and invited him in. The would-be politician was taken aback. A simple act of seeming kindness, but he was confounded.
Pushing past his astonishment, Simon stood back and wafted the man through, sat him down on the sofa, and flipped the kettle on.
Sitting down with a pot of tea and a proffered packet of biscuits, the not-yet Westminster-bound man seemed not to know where to begin.
“So.. tell me about your policies,” Simon urged him.
About twenty-five minutes later, the politician finished his speech and Simon looked suitably impressed.
“So, can I rely on your vote?” the councillor asked.
The lad shrugged, “Oh, I’m only seventeen, but thank you for your time.”
For a while, I worked in a clothes shop. Anyone who knows me will tell you that my sartorial flair is less Paris Fashion Week and more – fell out of bed and made it to the floor.
However, a clothes shop is where I found myself, rhapsodising about American TV shows and advising the other staff on movies for the weekend.
For the most part, I was lone-working; we only crossed paths at shift-change.
I never felt especially safe working alone. Bathroom and/or smoke breaks were few and far between and the company refused to supply us with a staff-bucket. I have a habit of chattering away to myself when I’m on my own for too long. Incidentally, ‘too long’ has been clocked in at under three minutes. My grandmother used to hum to herself: I guarantee this is more socially acceptable than carrying on whole arguments alone.
One day at the clothes shop, a sixty-something lady came in and scoured the bra wall, which stared at me from across the store.
All manner of colours, sizes, materials and styles were there. Whatever she was looking for clearly wasn’t looking back, so she approached the till, where I stood, keeping my voice low.
“I’m looking for a bra, my lovely,” she said.
I was not shocked.
“What I need is a 38D,” she continued.
“Righto,” I said, and started out towards the bra wall.
She stopped me, “Oh, I can’t see it there. I don’t know if you’ve got it.” She had a think. “Maybe out the back?” she suggested.
I agreed, we had a great number of bras in the back storeroom.
“So, yes. A 38D, my lovely,” and then she took a place in the open-mouthed hall of mirrors in my mind. “Like the one I’m wearing.”
As if I could see it.
I disappeared out back, and reappeared several minutes later with every 38D I could find. Lace, silk, cotton, polyester-blends, red, white, black, turquoise, balcony, push-up, crop top, nursing, everything I could find.
“No, dear,” she admonished, “like the one I’m wearing.”
I shook my head, not knowing what else to do.
She looked down, and a small smile crossed her face. “Oh, of course! You don’t know what I’m wearing!” She shook her head and whipped up her blouse. “Like this one.”
Sports bra. All I needed to hear was ‘sports bra’.