As promised the new regular story will be highlighting my ridiculous ineptitude at work alongside the ineptitude of various colleagues and boss.
Aged 16, post-GCSE’s, my parents decided I needed to learn the value of money and not be so lazy. Yeah, they had a point. Hanging around kensington and chelsea with my then-group of friends, drinking stolen vodka (because we were crap and pretending we were older so stole from parents) in various gardens belonging to houses worth in excess of 10 million pounds and befriending the various hobos that roamed around the King’s Road wasn’t the best way to spend the beginning of the summer nor was it key to me learning the value of money, if anything I was way off mark.
My parents knew someone who owned a business in a certain happening district in London (the location of various amy winehouse incidents) and I was to start working there, selling products to the public. (promise it was all legit - just being secretive and shit) YAY i thought. I have a job, I can have my own money and spend it all on drugs and clothes. Oh, yeah…. I completely forgot that to ascertain the money required for said enjoyment, I would actually have to work.
On my first day, I eagerly woke up and dressed my most indie to impress the public and off I trotted to work wearing yellow skinny jeans and a slogan t-shirt. (i cannot believe that was ‘in’ at the time - anyhoo) As I exited the station, the first thing I saw was a hilarious drug peddler standing next to a police officer with the most vacant looking face, I have possibly ever seen. The apathy was so ingrained into his face that I couldn’t look away. I stood still, grabbed my cigarettes and proceeded to light one whilst staring at said police officer. I think the drug dealer thought I was somehow telepathically messaging him a desire to buy crap drugs, up he comes to me, asks for a cigarette (which i duly give - smokers code and whatnot) and then if I liked to and I quote, “pon da herb.” I thought to myself, what the fuck, why is he pretending he is rihanna then he asks again if I like weed. I silently shake my head and walk off to work.
First day so far: Offered weed outside the tube station. Awkward.
I was placed in the care of a fat, greasy polish woman called Agnes. MAN she was grotesque. Her face, riddled with acne, teeth crooked with anger and a demeanour that could even terrify Kim Jon-Il. As I started to do her bidding, I allowed her to exert to the full extent her power over the newbie. As I scrubbed and scrubbed the products we sold, she proceeded to open up her brain to me. I do not care for the opinions of most people because 1) if i truly care, i would ask - and - 2) when i am working i do not wish to discuss the potency of a certain perfume with a random strange polish lady.
Looking back on it, starting work on a saturday is a bit counter-productive. Before, she could teach me more than cleaning (which I already knew thanks to having an anal grandmother) and operating a till (which I also already knew thanks to years of a shopping addiction) the crowds filled the shop and I had to turn into a sleazy Arab wheeler-dealer because apparently politeness and sweet smiles don’t sell products as well as using what I call, “The Prick Method.”
Lunch-time fast approaching, I scampered away and went to “Pret-A-Manger.” For those who do not have the pleasure of knowing “Pret” - please google it. It is the snobbiest sandwich/’healthy’ fast-food places and the complete antithesis of where I was working. After feeling at home, pretending I was lunching with my chelsea friends, I had to return to work. Agnes felt the shop was less busy so she decided to leave me in charge.
cue - the worst 45 minutes of my life.
Not only was I having to deal with selling wares using the “Prick Method,” I had to operate the till and be on the phone with customers reserving products. Yes, you say: no biggie. You’re right, aged 19 when I returned to said shop, I did all of that and more but as a 16 year old with no experience and on my first day, I was akin to a headless chicken. The shop started to fill up with more and more people and Agnes was nowhere to be seen. (Later, I found out she was in KFC stuffing her face with deep-fried cat carcasses - no wonder her skin was in such terrible shape, TWO SNAPS AND A Z) I had a little breather of 20 seconds, prayed to my god (at the time it was Pete Doherty - don’t judge babes) and was determined for it to go well.
and it did…. until.
I have nothing against Spaniards, I live in Madrid now! But, I have a bone to pick with spanish tourists. For some strange reason, they feel that they must have the utmost of service and be singled out when there is a shop floor filled with customers all vying for my attention for whatever reason it is. Now, this is what I say to spanish tourists, “shut up.” Your country is in such a mess because you sleep all day and never open your shops so pipe down.
As I told you, I could work the till. That doesn’t mean I knew how to operate a manual old-school credit card machine which wasn’t even a flipping machine but a slidy thing that was a cross between a gullotine and some ancient torture device. A spanish tourist requested a product and wanted to pay for it. As I replied slowly in my broken spanish I wasn’t allowed to use the machine because I hadn’t been taught and it was my first day, she threw the product on the floor and commenced screaming.
Now, a normal person would have just asked when the manager was there so someone could process her payment. Screaming like a petulant child is not the way to go. It is rude. It is harmful to the environment and most of all, a woman emitting that noise alongside a soundtrack akin to ‘Ibiza Club AnThEmz 2k5’ is the last thing anyone wants to hear.
I call Agnes. She doesn’t pick up.
I call the bitch again. Nothing.
I stare at the lady and start tearing. People start realising and the ones who want to buy things, leave the shop. The spanish tourist calls me a ‘maricón,’ and leaves.
Agnes returns 10 minutes later, using a wet-wipe to wipe away excess grease from her face. I look at her, start crying and leave.
The tube ride home, I silently sob into my canvas bag. I get home, call my parents, explain what happened.
Long story short, Agnes was fired.