Share a story…well a long journey anyway.

Hmmm, that’s a difficult one, a story about a job interview. I have been lucky not to have had many, not because I haven’t worked but that every job I have had I sort of fell into and worked to the top and so I never needed one. Hmmm let me see, ah yes the grey cells are jumping. The best interview I have ever had was a default position really. My husband worked there already and we lived on site eight miles from the nearest town. It went something like this…’ Hello, how are you today, lovely weather isn’t it.’ Me .. ‘Yes, glorious day, always makes us feel good.’  I tucked the baby’s toy back into her pram and we passed by. After a few steps the receding footsteps paused. ‘By the way, you wouldn’t like a job would you?’ I stopped. A job? but I had a small baby and it had never crossed my mind. ‘Oh, yes that would be wonderful but….’    ‘It’s ok you can bring the baby with you.’  And that was it, I was employed.

My story from that point on was a journey from being a classroom cleaner, to cleaning the Headmaster’s apartment, to joining the care staff in a boarding school. The laundry lady was sick one day and yes, I stepped in adding that to my skills. I sidestepped into the classroom as an assistant which required training in special  educational needs, restraint and several other courses. I had my first points on the way to a degree and I had a computer course under my belt and I was head LSA with 5 staff under me before I had to leave to take care of my father in law following the sudden and devastating death of my Mother in law.

My father in law eventually needed 24/7 care and my husband and I took the role between us. He was doing a degree in counselling at the time. Once he had completed I went to college on a basic Skills for life course just to break from being in the house all the time. I met a girl there and we became friendly, she told me she was going on to University to do an English degree. She suggested I applied because it would be great to do it together. Never in a million years could I see myself at that level. I mean I left school at 14 having never sat an exam! She dared me and I sent in an application form, they required a book review which I duly did, with a little, well a lot of, help from my tutor. And I got in. Scary or what?

I worked hard on my degree despite the death of my father in law at 92 peacefully at home with us at his bedside, the break up of my marriage and moving to a new town. By the end of the degree I had met my long-term partner, Harry, who encouraged me all the way and I sat back to await my results. If I scraped a pass I would be delighted. I got a 2:1 and felt like I could fly to the moon. I felt sad that my friend never completed hers. I let my original tutor know and thanked her for her support at the beginning. To my surprise she suggested I tried teaching. Again, I could never see myself that clever but she talked me into going to an interview and gave me several pointers. I knew she wanted me on her team but I had to sit an interview anyway. The only real interview I had ever had. There were two other candidates for the job. I was nervous and shook like a leaf, especially as I had to conduct a mini teaching session using all thelatest technology, to three established teachers.  I got back home mentally exhausted as much from the 40 mile round trip as anything else. No soon as I had got back home than the phone rang. The job was mine! Another big Wow! I was going to be a teacher, they had told me I would learn on the job but I never expected to be thrown into a class of an excess of 20 adult learners with nothing but a few ideas grabbed from the resource cupboard. I did it and the first day was really good. The second day I had to leave the class room because I had got into a panic. I went to my colleague next door and said to her quietly that I couldn’t do this. She was brilliant  and she gave some ideas, I regained my confidence and went back to my students who were just completing the task I had set them. They were totally unaware of my panic thank goodness.

I was expected to enroll onto the PGCE course and take my basic level 1 in Maths, IT and English at the same time. All that and teaching part-time. I travelled by bus , ferry, train or coast bus 20 miles from Gosport to Chichester, which also took four hours for the forty miles, out of each working or studying day but I was lucky to be able to manipulate my classes to be at the College following a lesson. It was exhausting. Eventually I worked two years and got both level one and two in further education. I taught ESOL at this point, English for Speakers of Other Languages, but after a reshuffle the work dried up. I was ‘head hunted ‘ for another college and after another interview began work there to cover the teaching hours I needed for my PGCE certificate.

It was here that the arthritis that had been dogging me since uni began to affect me badly and very sadly for me I had to stop work. I was coming home in so much pain and totally unable to walk for hours after. It was a really sad day when I handed my notice in. When I look back my working life had been blessed, my education just a fantastic boost to my self-esteem and I had people who believed in me. With all that behind me I retired gracefully, thankful for all those opportunities and experiences, to become the artist that I am today. I use my English Degree  to develop my creative writing and having made some wonderful supportive friends, wrote the best part of my novel. I hope to complete it this year.

I may not be able to work any more but I help other students with their degrees, proofreading their work and still critique and workshop other people’s writing in the local writer’s group I belong to. But most of all I am so very proud to look back with gratitude at the synchronicity that lead me to where I am today. So I thank the headmaster who gave me that interview as I walked out with my baby, who is now nearly 21, and everyone who helped me along the way. I feel sure I had some divine help there too. It has been a story after all and a very long journey!

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