As I'm sure you will all be thrilled to know, I am now back in the world of employment after being a drain on society for what will forever be known as the most depressing two weeks of my life. Where am I working, I hear you ask? Well, I will tell you where. After shelling out a good nine grand to go to university and get a degree, the only job I have been able to secure is as a counter assistant behind a deli. Does this sound familiar? No doubt it probably does as it is the exact same job I have had since I was sixteen and am apparently destined to be in for the rest of my life.
Now, don't get the wrong end of the stick and think I got this job just for myself, as that is most definitely not true. "I'm so jealous!" people would say to me every time I posted an exciting blog relating to whichever amazing place I had just been to on my travels. "You make me feel like I'm doing nothing with my life," they would say, "yours is so exciting!" - such was the extent of others' envy, in fact, that I felt it was definitely time to return to my former blogging self and begin, once again, to write not about mountains and oceans and travelling cat shows, but rather the mundane banality of a working class life. I did this for you, readers, and I hope my self-sacrifice is evident.
Six months is a long time to go without working and as such I am ever so slightly out of practice when it comes to being polite and friendly for eight hours a day, watching my swearing and, with a slightly larger degree of difficulty, watching my sarcasm. It almost escaped my mind to look interested and alert today as a customer recounted to me her entire life story, the majority of which revolved around a particularly harrowing period in her mid-thirties during which she lost all of her front teeth. "Can you tell?" she asked me, baring her gums as the strawberry she was eating (and had quite clearly just stolen) fell promptly out of her mouth and onto my cleanly swept floor. I toyed for a while with the idea of saying I hadn't noticed and could she please do it again, but in the end I thought it was best if I just smiled politely and continued the encounter as though the past five minutes had not just happened. If my blatant disregard for her life upset her in any way, she didn't show it, although I did see her comfort eating her way through the free samples five minutes later, so perhaps I should not have been so frugal with my sensitivity...
I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy living in Yorkshire until suddenly I spotted a sheep walking through the car park at work yesterday without a care in the world. Nothing makes a bad day better like getting to go into the office and break the news to the office staff that a sheep has escaped from its field and may possibly be on the verge of headbutting a small child to death. The look of glee on my face as I said this should really have cemented their initial apprehension with regards to rehiring me as a member of staff... I am hardly a poster girl for good employees, as was shown quite clearly earlier today when I accidentally launched a multi-pack of Discos crisps at a customer's head.
If you happen to have read my previous blog, you may already be aware that I was very much disgruntled during my short stint of unemployement, but now that it is actually over, I have only fond memories of that beautiful fortnight. There is an emptiness in my life that was once filled with daytime television and sitting in the pub with my friend Bella, getting steadily more drunk until eventually ending up at one house or the other drinking whiskey and singing songs about miners. These activities tend to be fun apart from the occasional whiskey related mishap leading to more than one person (five in total, if we're being completely honest) being forced to venture to my house the following morning simply to check that I am alive. I have since learnt my lesson not to try and keep up with musicians when they are drinking...
Seeing as I now have no unemployment woes to depress everyone with, I will tell you a short story from a difficult period of my life. If you are a real person in my real life who actually knows me, you may recognise Shelley's story. (I bring it up at least once a month lest he be forgotten).
I'll take a few moments to set the scene. It is 1999. My mother, my sister and I are leaving the house for the daily school run. It is a dull, overcast day and I wrap my scarf a little snugger around my neck, watching as our family cat, Shelley, takes his morning stroll along the avenue. A lunch box lays forgotten on the kitchen worktop.
"Amy, have you got your recorder?" My mother's voice seems even more stern that usual at 7am and her suspicious eyes scan my empty hands. No, mother, I do not have my recorder because I do not wish to be forced, yet again, to sit cross legged for an entire hour on a cold wooden floor and play Hot Cross Buns for the 15th time whilst my music teacher plays the glockenspiel with giddy abandon and encourages us all to 'really feel the music'. I may only be nine years old, but I have already perfected my I-Am-Above-This-Shit facial expression. Begrudgingly, I head back into the house and rummage around in my bedroom for a good ten minutes until I finally locate the instrument, buried under a pile of My Little Pony figurines from the last time it was used. (It was not used to play happy ditties as the ponies paraded around my bedroom, but rather as a substitute for a rounders bat). By this time it is evident that we are going to be late for school and I just about manage to leap in the car as my mother starts reversing it down the drive.
People always say there's a certain sense of calm before a storm hits. Was I to know that just minutes from this moment my entire life would be turned upside down? No. Could I feel it? Yes.
"What was that?!" My sister, Kezia, jerks her head up and out of the corner of my eye I see my mum's eyes widen in realisation.
"Shelley..." she mumbles. My heart stops. Our beloved family pet, our 19-year-old cat, who has been so loyal, so faithful, for so many years, had been mown down by my boy racer of a mother. It was not the fast, painless death he deserved, either. As Shelley had attempted to seek refuge from the gargantuan steel monster heading towards him, his tail had been flattened by the back wheels of my mother's car and, being so old and frail (queue violins), his body could not withstand the trauma and the only option was to have him put to sleep. Wrapped in a blanket and placed gently in a cardboard box, Shelley was stowed in the back of the car and laid his head down to rest one last time as we picked up our friends Gemma and Daniel, who wasted no time in joining in the mourning for the world's greatest cat. I will always remember the solitary tear that stained Shelley's brave, ginger face during that drive to school. Admittedly, the Ace of Base mix tape we had playing in the car at the time somewhat ruined the atmosphere, but please remember that this was 1999 and pop music at the time was not really written as background music for dying family pets like it is today. Plus, Shelley was a huge fan of 90s' pop, so it seemed only fitting that it should be played on his way out. If you take anything away from this story, let it be this: Never let my mother near your family pet when she is driving, and the next time you see the world's oldest cat in the record books, remember who it could have been instead.