Sean Connery polished coffins. Billy Murray sold chestnuts. Christopher Walken tamed lions. Whoopie Goldberg applied lipstick to corpses.
From all that I have read and heard from these people, I understand they have enormous gratitude for their former mundane employ. Each experience, no matter how horrendous at the time, contributed to the success they enjoy today. Indeed, without their tedious stints in factories, hotel kitchens or funeral homes, they probably would not be where they are today.
Therefore, I can only deduce that my 8 weeks spent packing frozen prawns and breaded scampi was for a reason. A reason that is yet to reveal itself. I suppose, I could write it into my novel:
‘A earnest graduate full of hope for the future realises her degree means fuck all, as she finds herself at the mercy of evil factory hags, who cruelly lock her in the freezer without protective clothing.’ Perhaps.
What about my dalliances with selling double-glazing; chasing late loan repayments; packing fragranced Christmas trees, CDs and doughnuts; radio presenting; pet-sitting; public relations; teaching? Jeez, it’s a long list and one that causes my auntie to refer to me as ‘flighty’ – “I don’t understand why Annie can’t settle down into a career she’ll stick at.”
Why do I need to? Each job, especially the really shitty ones, gave me so much more than the measly hourly wage. I highly recommend career dabbling. I have dipped my toes into all sorts of industries and I’m delighted that I had the balls to do so. I have worked with some inspiring people, well, not many to be honest, but one or two. And I have tried my hand at all sorts of skills. I’ve written speeches for chief executives and I’ve found nails in packs of jumbo prawns destined for the fridges of Marks & Spencer. I was also made aware of the true contents of M&S’s seafood sauce but that’s for another blog entirely.
Now I’m 39, I have arrived at the place I have been travelling to all this time. Well, I’m still in the airport, but I’m in the right country at least. I see all my past jobs as places I’ve travelled to. Each one a sticker on my suitcase. A stamp in my passport. And here’s why:
Without the goddamn awful prawn trauma, I would have never read, with my teary eyes, a magazine article in the staffroom about working in public relations. Without the 7 years spent in the vacuous, shallow word of PR, I would have never walked out one afternoon to go and find myself in Australia. Without the despair of travelling alone, I would have never appreciated so much, the company of a stray dog on a beach in Byron Bay and returned to open a pet-sitting business. Without getting dog poo on my fingers most days, I wouldn’t have thought ‘sod this’ and franchised the business to get other people to pick up the poo instead. Without the money earned here, I could have never afforded to move to London to study broadcast journalism. Actually, this is going on a bit now. I think you can see my point. Every experience, leads on to a new one and each experience is a deposit in the character bank.
So, if you are reading this post doing a job you absolutely loathe, it’s ok. It will pass, if you really want it too of course. It’s happening for a reason. You may not know what that reason is for a very long time, but you will one day. And then you can look back and think ‘Ah, so that’s why I cleaned toilets/worked in a circus/made leather chaps.’ Unless, you never recover from being locked in a freezer somewhere. I’ll get you one day, evil crones!
‘To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.’