Monday, 5 March 2012

Round round get around I get around.....

There was a time when people started in a job straight from school and stayed in it untill they retired. People liked the stability, knowing what they were going to be doing from one day to the next. Following a routine gave some kind of security and they took comfort in the fact that they knew exactly what was expected of them. The friendly faces they would see every morning became like a second family, as strong friendships were forged.

Today things are very different, the 'Jobs for Life' culture is shrinking all the time as companies move into short term contract work. Due to the competitive nature of business, firms are looking for flexibility, they want to be able to move staff on if they are no longer performing productively. All this uncertainty creates worry for those who have jobs, the pressure to perform can tip people over the edge so they have to seek medical advice for the anxieties and depression they are experiencing. Not a good situation to be in, but there's not a lot we can do about it. It's a global issue which can't be remedied by one country alone. There's a world wide market out there and we have to compete, adjustments have to be made.

It's a shame that these changes are happening but they are and there's no getting away from it. The man who was expecting to follow in his fathers footsteps and work for 50 years in the steel works will have to look further afield for his employment. Learning just one trade, and expecting to be still in that trade many years down the line probably won't happen.

I feel for those people who are experiencing their first redundancy, after giving many years service to their employer. They will be the ones who are feeling emotionally drained, and will be at an utter loss as to what to do next. At first their hopes will be quite high for gaining another job. Some may be lucky, but as the months pass by and there is no sign of further employment, those left behind will be faced with the reality of retraining. At middle age they will find they are expected to learn another skill. Some will embrace this challenge with gusto, but sadly some will fall into despair because they can't see where they should go next.

Have a go at anything has always been my mantra. I didn't train for any specific career, I just had a go at what I thought I might like to do. I suppose I was lucky really that I didn't have any academic qualifications. I didn't study to become anything, I was just me, Jill of all trades, master of none. I got into the habit of trying something, and moving on when I stopped enjoying it and it all became too boring. Change has never bothered me, and this is what some people are struggling with now when they lose their job. It's the prospect of trying something new which is so daunting.

I've always kept a list of the jobs I have done, mainly for the purpose of filling out application forms, the bit where they ask what was your previous employment. There was never enough boxes for me as I struggled to fit it all in. I now believe my attitude to work was definately right for me, I never expected a job for life, nor did I want one.

I certainly had a lot of variety.....
First was shop work. I worked at a small leather shop for all of five days, I soon realised I didn't like spending all day in a box, too claustrophobic. Then I went to Woolworths, I liked that, big store, lots going on. Next Melias, a grocery store, I liked that, friendly workmates and a variety of work to do.

Then I wanted a job with better wages, and factory work paid well. I went to work at Roberts and Birch, a factory which made meat products out of dead pigs. Well I was young, this was probably the first time I started thinking about becoming a veggie. I had to leave there because it was making me feel sick. From there I went to work in a toilet roll factory.

Next came my move to Blackpool where I took a job in a cafe. I also worked on Central Pier, and on the Pleasure Beach selling hot dogs and donuts. In the winter I went to Empire Pools, the football coupon place, where I worked in a big office.

Then I was alternating between my summer job and winter job, and also went back home for a few months to work back at Woolies. Next was Tesco, then I got a job selling car parts for a Chrysler Garage. I found a lot of customers and built up a round from nothing. Next I was a driving instructor, then a lorry driver, then a bus driver. I was also a part time bar maid in a pub, and worked behind the bar at a night club.

For 32 years I was a lorry driver, but even then I choppped and changed whenever the fancy took me. I was self employed for seven of those years as a freelance driver. I did just about every job you can think of, delivered everything and anything.

What else? I did a job fundraising for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, which involved going into schools and doing presentations to the kids, getting them to fundraise for us. I have run two small businesses, one was an Introduction Agency, and the other was a mobile shop which sold fancy goods with a cat theme. Both lasted three years.

I did party plan for The Body Shop, wasn't too keen on that. There were a lot of little part time jobs which I did to earn a bit more dosh. I worked for a metal detector company assembling headphones, I was a dab hand with a soldering iron. I did a bit for a funeral director. I went to funerals and stood outside the church or crematorium, taking the names of the mourners for the newspaper. I was the church scrubber in my village, ha ha, I cleaned the church. I did gardening jobs, mowing, hedge trimming tidying up etc.

All in all, being flexible has held me in good stead. I know I will survive (ooh, that's a song), no matter what life throws at me. It doesn't do to put all your eggs in one basket these days, spread yourself around a bit that's what I say. Don't be afraid to experiment with new jobs, don't say, 'oh I don't think I can do that', give it a try.

If I ever become set in my ways, please give me a kick up the backside. Toodle pip.


  1. Ilona, you were following the laws of nature....only those who can adapt will survive.
    Jane x

  2. "I was a dab hand with a soldering iron." What does that mean?

    When I was young, I worked at different jobs. After and education, at least the varied jobs paid more per hour. And, they were not physical. They just burned holes in my Plus, the rate/hour was much better for parttime or consulting.

    My cousin has a university degree in engineering. But, all he worked in was glass--railings, bannisters, wall, elevators...strange. But, when he lost his job, he could work other engineering jobs. There were few glass buildings going up. He was flexible.

  3. I have come across so many people who bemoan the fact that they cannot find work and when confronted about transferring skills to something they havent done will refuse. I think the benefits shake up will change this as people wont have a choice. You remind me of the guy on 'Down the Lane' Blog who has changed roles.
    I know if ever I am out of work I would do anything for that wage at the end of the month.

    Brilliant blog as ever

    Midlands Annie

    1. Very good point however right not it is not so easy. My post at the University here recently became redundant so I am looking for work. I have found that many employers when you apply for a post that suits some of your skills but requires skills you know you could acquire do not generally want to be bothered as well as some posts they tell me I am over qualified. Difficult to do something you haven't done these days.

  4. You don't strike me as a person who would get set in your ways.

    I've had a variety of jobs too and have on the whole enjoyed the challenge of being flexible and learning new skills.

  5. Being flexible is truely the key in this day and age. I`ve worked as a cook in an old folks home, been a veg prepper in a restaurant kitchen, then went cleaning houses for a while, been a carer for a disabled husband for some years, then was a voluntary and adult education Middle Eastern Dance teacher, then found work as presser in a dry cleaners, then changed dry cleaners as I could not get on with a new boss, and now I`m on the look out for something new, again. Each time you change jobs you learn new skills and certainly get an awfully diverse life experience to boot.

  6. Blimey Ilona I've had a wide variety of jobs too, but the breadth of your experience is amazing !! As you say we must adapt to survive. I've done office work, sales, telesales, worked as an Educational tour guide for the National Trust - loved that job, receptionist for National Trust, sold houses, exam invigilator, wherever the money is and I could fit it around my little family I'm there !!!
    Twiggy x

  7. Interesting how attitudes change. I had lots of jobs and my dad thought this a bad thing, a sign I was "unsettled" and "discontented". I was nearly 50 before I found my ideal job.

  8. dh has had two jobs in his worrking life, I have had a few, dh likes the stability in his life. It works for some but not for everyone.

    Gill in Canada

  9. Good grief, I knew that you were versatile but not quite that much. How wonderful. Where I come from careers were for men and women had jobs though I suppose that has changed now.

  10. What an amazing variety! I've been a waitress in a fancy restaurant, a researcher at Kew Gardens, a chamber maid and a McDonalds crew member. All I know is that research is definitely what I want to do so far, but even in science there are such a variety of jobs that you can chop and change a lot to suit whatever work needs doing. :)

  11. You have certainly have had a lot of different jobs but if you drove a truck you had to be highly skilled. It takes four years here in the States to get a license to drive one of those puppies - the same time as a college degree - and it is a well paid profession.

  12. I live in the US. At a local college the Truck Driver Training class is a FOUR-WEEK, $1200 class that restarts every four weeks. If there is a course that takes four years, it is because the trainers can get away with it. Since these training courses are common, I cannot imagine who would pay for four years training When for $1200 and four weeks, the person could be earning.

    I certainly hope smart, skilled, conscientous people are driving trucks.

  13. MQ - you never cease to amaze me !
    You are an inspiration.
    I often wonder if the unemployment figures would drop if people would be prepared to step outside of their comfort zone, their 'bubble' and try something different ?
    It's a fear of the unknown I think.
    Like you I've done lots of different things in life, (not as many though!) in order to raise a family and make ends meet, you never get bored !
    PS - when is the book coming out ?

  14. What a fantastic list! All so different. The pig factory is the only one I couldn't stand to do!

  15. Midlands Annie, I heard on the radio the other week, a feature about unemployment, there was a young girl who didn't have a job. When it was suggested she could try factory work, she replied 'I'm not doing that, I'm a trained nail technician'. I was shocked. The bone idle little madam should have had a slapped arse.

    Just remembered another job, I sold conservatories in a garden centre. I'm not too keen on selling high value items, it takes a lot of work to weedle out mega bucks from people. I like quick turnarounds, someone buys they pay immediately, job done. I get impatient with people if they can't make their mind up, just do it is my motto.

    Hi PP. 'Dab hand' means clever with it, nifty with it, good at it. A soldering iron is what you use to fuse two pieces of metal together, but I guess you already know that. I soldered all the little fiddly wires and components together inside the headphones.

  16. Hey, Iona, we may have met when I was at Empire Pools. It was my first 'holiday' job and what I thought was a long working day from 8.30 - 5.30. I remember working so hard opening hundreds of envelopes to get a bonus of 3d. I used to wonder why people spent so long in the loo - they were having a quick fag. If I remember rightly the loos were painted a very dark green. That summer was a very hot one and people used to hang about outside in the dinner hour. There wasn't anywhere else to go. I had quite a variety of holiday jobs but I've only had one main job for all my working life which as you say is very rare these days.
    Love from Mum

  17. Do you know Mum, we could have done. I was there about 1969/1970. I worked on PC17 section, that was for punters who spent higher amounts regularly. It was upstairs and we had long rows of desks. Our section leader was a rather vivacious blonde lady called Mona, she was fab, a lovely lady. A bit like a blonde Elsie Tanner.

    Yes there were hundreds of letters to open and we were on bonus. I have found an entry in my diary for Friday 13th Jan 1970. I opened 1470 a record, my best ever. Then I went to work on the Saturday morning and finished at 2100. Hey, just found this. On Saturday 28th Feb I finished on 2300, which earned me 32/- bonus. That was £1 12shillings.

    Remember those little printing machines we used to address envelopes with, they were called addressographs. Each punter had a metal plate embossed with their name and address. We put this in the machine, with the envelope on top, and banged the arm down hard to print it. We got bonus for that as well. Mum, you've brought it all back to me, ha ha.

  18. Great post and very true, I've had four jobs in the last two and a half years though in a similar field- I think its always a good thing to bring a wide range of skills to any new company.

  19. i am enjoying your blog tremendously, and you have a great attitude to life..a reminder that things are often not as bad as they seem. thanks.


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