Having now been officially 'retired' for over a year, and looking to fill my waking hours with something other than decorating, I have recently turned my attention to the thought of work. This isn't just a whim, dear reader. Having been fully employed for the last thirty plus years, and now getting to the stage where I have started looking over Mrs. H's shoulder at Dulux colour charts and thinking, 'hmm...Dusted Damson looks nice...', I find that, contrary to my pre-retirement expectations, being 'work-free' is not all it's cracked up to be. I have decided that I need to get some kind of job.
I always fancied a career to do with books and, as if by magic, a number of local library jobs appeared, both full and part time. Undaunted, I applied for one of them, and, wonder of wonders, I was called in for interview. At a local library, three very nice ladies quizzed me for around twenty minutes as to what skills I possessed, whether I was IT literate, whether I was confident handling money, and how I would deal with difficult customers. Now, the police service, although it doesn't take money over the counter in the same way as ASDA, likes to think of itself as having 'customers' (by which it means arrested people, victims of crime, casual callers to the station, etc.), so I had no problem in explaining how I dealt with 'difficult' customers, since I had encountered more of these than the average librarian could shake a stick at. Imagine my surprise when, a week or so later, I was notified that the job had gone to someone else. I was advised that I was 'a very good interviewee', but that I had not demonstrated my skills with sufficient vehemence to justify entrusting the job to me. I felt rather peeved at this. Had I not spent the last thirty years honing my inter-personal skills, organisational abilities and leadership qualities? Had I not dealt with incidents that the average library assistant might only have read about between the covers of a racy detective novel? Was I really not good enough to stamp library books and collect fines? You see, this is what being 'management' for nigh on twenty five years does to you; it gives you an exaggerated sense of your own importance. How could there possibly be a better candidate than me?
A few weeks later, another library job hove into view, and off went my application. Back came the invite to the interview, and this week saw me, hair combed and beard trimmed, in front of the same three ladies. Now, I had learnt from the first interview (you see - another skill!) and spent far more time talking about my all-round qualities that would make me an ideal assistant in the busy world of the public library. The ladies were very kind. They nodded. They smiled. And one of them even said, 'very interesting' after I had regaled them with a police-related example of my ability to multi-task. But, a few hours later, I received the familiar phone call. This time, apparently, I had been pipped by someone with 'a background in retail' - someone who had worked in a pub, it appeared. Perhaps working in a library has more in common with pulling pints and retailing bags of pork scratchings than I had thought.
So, dear reader, what am I to do? Would I be correct in thinking that spending thirty years in a responsible job is not what the modern employer is looking for? Would I have been better to flit, butterfly-like, from job to job? Does my three-decade career simply demonstrate that I am unable to embrace change? Should I get a job as a part-time barman to make myself more attractive? In an employment kind of way, I mean.
This afternoon I was flicking idly though lists of jobs on the internet. A few things struck me about the way these job ads are written. A job isn't just a job, it's 'an exciting opportunity,' or even 'an exceptional opportunity'. And a company isn't just a company, it's an 'exciting and innovative company', or a 'cutting edge organisation'. And what about the ideal candidate? He or she should, it appears, be 'dynamic', 'possess excellent communication skills and the drive, determination and resilience to succeed', or, in one notable instance, have the ability to 'make a good time great.' Now, I may have been unlucky in my choice of shopping venues over the years, but just where are all these dynamic communicators whose sole purpose in life would seem to be to enhance my Retail Experience? I haven't met them yet. Or perhaps I have. The liveliest, most dynamic people on the High Street are the charity muggers who are constantly attempting to separate me from my bank sort code. But maybe they've been sacked from their retail jobs for being just too dynamic; for 'high-five'-ing each other after every sale of family-sized washing powder, or imprisoning elderly customers in clothing stores for hours until they give in and buy a comfy cardigan in taupe. The ones that are left to man the tills look at me with heavy-lidded eyes as the pass my groceries over the scanner, barely acknowledging my presence...except in Morrisons. They're OK in Morrisons. Oh, I almost forgot. The other interesting point about these jobs that are looking for a candidate who is a cross between Lord Sugar and the Messiah? Almost all of them are offering the minimum wage.
It's Friday tomorrow. On Fridays I go morris dancing. They don't expect me to be dynamic. Just good with a stick...
A Shaggy Garden
1 day ago