It’s been a strange few days. The sun, oh fuck me the sun, scorching. If it only lasts a week I’ll remember the summer as having been good, because my mind blocks out all the shit of life. Last week I had no job; two months ago I had one job, that I had to be up at 5am for but provided me with free food; now I have two jobs, each one providing me with free food (one of them better pay), and I only have to be up at 6.45am.
Cycling around selling sandwiches is, to me, just getting paid to exercise and work on my sexy tan. I know the wage is unstable, because it’s based on how much I sell, but after a week I’ll know the route by rote and be able to travel between buildings faster, and I’ll know what sells best. This is simply my illegal in-school mobile canteen with Andy Hardy from Year 9, but on a larger scale. There’s nothing like the buzz of selling stuff. For six hours a day I reckon I can be making £200 per week very soon. I have already started selling things for as much as I can - because customers can never remember the set prices - and pocketing the difference. Born hustla baby. All of the unsold sandwiches are fair game at shift’s end, cue frenzied grabbing. I really, really should have done my cycling proficiency in Year 6. London roads are a free-for-all. Oh well.
Job number 2 is acting as a helper for a blind woman, the reasons for which I applied were twofold: the £8 p/h pay, and the experience. In the first interview she clarified that there’d be no arse wiping/ tampon duties(?) required, and I swept the back of my hand across my brow in relief (because she is blind and couldn’t see me). My 2nd interview this Thursday gone was not what I had expected. Another carer - some Philippino girl - was there, and there was no immediate interview. Instead, I had to go with them, on the bus, to a Tesco which was only 15 minutes walk away (she told me, unashamedly, that she was a ‘lazy person’, which annoyed me, because her legs work fine, and she’s got a guide, and she could do with shedding a few lbs TEE BEE HACHE), to redeem £300 worth of coupons so that she could purchase a microwave. The obsessiveness with which these coupons must have been accrued baffled me, because before we left I had to type up a crumpled pile of her receipts and email her the file as a record, and she clearly has a lot of money. £100+ expenditures at fancy restaurants galore, bizarre investments in ostentatious perfume, it was fucking surreal. I surmise that some sort of horrific accident must have befallen, for which she received massive compensation.
Before we got to Tesco she insisted we go get a Thornton’s ice cream, paying for the 3 of us. I didn’t protest, obviously. I gobbled mine down with gusto whilst she, much to my admiration, managed to devour hers unaided, by holding the cone in the bend of her elbow that lead to nowhere. The chink (chink is easier to write than Philippino) took even longer to eat hers. She had clearly been jaded by the job, and whilst guiding Antonia (the blind woman) and responding to her with monosyllabic agreements, was busy titting about on her I-phone. We were in Tesco for 2 hours. 2 fucking hours. I can’t even explain how. We were stood by the microwaves for a fair thyme, whilst the chink described them to Antonia. Some ripped man chink came over to give advice. He was sound. What ensued was an at least 1 hour linger by the customer service desk, whilst some chirpy coon called Everton (that’s right, Everton) processed all the coupons. I literally don’t know what was going on. Then, at the till, there was a problem because the coupons were of more value than the purchase and the till had a nervous breakdown. The sassy checkout girl (name something like ‘Shaniqua’) was no help.
I came out into the sun, the dissipating heat of early evening, and felt about 26. The chink went off and I got a taxi with Antonia back to hers. She apologised about the arduous afternoon, and we finally had my 2nd interview. She spoke for at least 30 minutes, but said nothing. It was like a conjuring trick. I somehow extracted the crucial information in the end (rate of pay/ typical hours/ typical duties). She then ordered a pizza, and insisted that I have half, because the voyage to Tesco had robbed me of dinner. She paid, and then let me take an apple with me. I forgot all about the frustrations of the day, and now only have an emotional attachment to the pizza and apple. I remember Tesco, but it doesn’t affect me.
A few things surprise me. First of all, though least significantly, my mind’s ability to fool itself, and the fact that my own awareness of the deception doesn’t shatter the illusion. Secondly, Antonia’s joie de vivre. She’s blind, and has no arms, and she does whatever she wants, and is buzzing all the thyme. When I stop and think, it is a true inspiration, and if I were in that position I feel like I’d wish I was dead. This sounds corny, but why should sentiment be corny (see my yet-to-be-written dissertation for more on modern cynicism in literature)? Thirdly and finally, my catering delivery job has provided me with access to offices I didn’t even no existed, in unassuming buildings where people could live out 40 years of their life without anyone giving a shit. They desperately get themselves through work with cheap coffee, laughing at the office clown and his ‘witty’ announcements, and the highlight of their day is when I show up with chocolate bars, dressed in a baby puke-green Darwin’s Deli t-shirt that itches around the collar. I probably have a higher class degree than quite a few of them. Yep, this week has shown me that there are definitely things far worse than selling sandwiches.
Snakehips away! x