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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Employment 102

Here’s some more of my work history as promised.

Wimpy wasn’t so bad. I loved their hot dogs which the workers were proud to call ‘benders’. A classic breakfast consisted of fried eggs, bacon, fries and a bender.  Now I had told Marcel, the restaurant manager that my previous experience was at McDonald’s. The way his eyes lit up made me realize that in his opinion taking this job was a step down the job hierarchy. He offered me the job on the spot. I was ecstatic. My only prior experience with McDonald’s was ordering food, to which the sales assistants would respond “Eat in or take away?” To prove my imaginary experience was in fact real I took to asking every customer at Wimpy  “eat in or take away?” That frustrated Marcel to no end as he got tired of telling me Wimpy was not McDonald’s, it was a “real” restaurant and most customers would eat in. I now see the illogicality  of asking someone purchasing eggs, sausage and bacon if they wanted to take it away. Sorry Marcel!

McDonald’s. I actually worked here after Wimpy! At the interview I was given my uniform and told to begin work the next day. My classmate- Chris told me to apply because the hours were flexible, perfect for a student. I wonder where Chris is now? He was a truly sweet friend. On day one I arrived at work ready to get introduced to the fryers, cold rooms and so on. The manager showed me the staff room to get ready, it was at that point I realized that I forgot my uniform at home. 3 hours later I returned with my uniform and was told to mop the large golden arches just outside. Problem: What if any of my classmates saw me in that less than dignifying position? Next I was introduced to the fryers. I was to fry half a bag of chicken nuggets, which I very quickly did. At McDonald’s you are not allowed to be idle even for a second. As there was nothing else to do I thought it would be nice to keep frying the nuggets. So I fried and I fried and I fried. It was no small commotion when a couple of the staff saw what I was doing and quickly alerted the manager. Apparently it is sacrilege to fry up to one bag at a time, I had fried more than two and now everything had to be thrown away because their policy is to serve “freshly prepared food”.

My McDonald’s job lasted one week. It was the mopping of the logo outside that did it.

By the way I now make all my sausages like benders! Works particularly well with hot-dogs. You make incisions at regular intervals across the length of the sausage and when you fry it, it bends into a ‘C’ or an ‘O’, hence the name.

Thanks for reading!

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Employment 101

Some people have a job history, others just have the one job for life, others still work at home raising kids or from home running a business. Mine is quite a history. In fact I suspect my first few jobs instilled the distrust I carry around for sales people today. See post on salesmen here.

My very first job was in a country where teenagers work- England. The thought of working at the age of 17 was both ludicrous and exciting. So as I came across the ad for what I thought was a telephone canuasser (the writing on the display window was bad and the v looked like a u) I felt I could handle it, whatever that job meant. How hard can it be? I can dial, I can talk. The pay was £3.00 per hour and the job entailed going through a list of some 100 names,  calling each one and telling them “wow, your name was picked out of our draw and you have just won a trip to Turkey!” I had to sound excited and genuinely pleased that the gods were indeed in their favor as they  had ‘won’ this all expense paid trip to a dingy Bed and Breakfast somewhere in Turkey. I worked 3 hours per day and on my 3rd day I was “let go” as ‘head office’ decided to cut costs by closing the East London Office.

“We have to let you go Toks.” It was the first time I had heard that phrase.

“No, I’m fine you don’t have to let me go, I like it here.”

“You don’t understand- head office have decided to cut costs…”

Ahh! So that’s what let go means.  They told me they would stop by the next evening with my pay of  £21.00.  Besides learning the new term of being dismissed, by the end of the week I also learned  through experience a new word- ‘Naiveté’  as they never showed up with my £21.00.

I got my next job a few days later working for a double glazing company. This was where I learned that “commission based” was a euphemism for “voluntary”. That job lasted all of 2.5 hours. It was in 1990, the year of the worst winter for 27 years and the snow reached close to my knees. We were told to knock on doors asking for an appointment for potentially free Double Glazing. With the assurance that most sales men in the company secured a minimum of 4 appointments daily and at the rate of £25 per appointment, it was a steal.

Armed with visions of my new car, new wardrobe and  house I trudged along expecting to have 10 appointments that evening.  I didn’t have a single one. In fact no one wanted to see us.  To tell the truth I couldn’t really tell who had double glazing and who didn’t -something about an aluminium strip was mentioned earlier when the manager explained but I didn’t get it. When we returned to the base, the same guy who told us top sales people in the company made up to 10 appointments per night now said Monday nights were notoriously slow as people chose to stay in watching Coronation street. When I realised there was a soap on television every single night from Emmerdale to Eastenders and what-not, I faced up to the fact that I was working with cowboys and fled the scene of the crime.

This is a 2 part post so do come back to learn about my stint at Wimpy’s, MacDonalds, Woolworths…

Thank you for reading! Don’t hold back from sharing your thoughts in the comments box below 🙂

“I remember…”

Excited because I caught up with a long lost friend today.

The best part of re-connecting is that we actually chatted. I mean, we caught up until our chats became separated by yesterday and today. And then she had to go to bed. So we’ll catch up later. Much better than the one who accepts (or sends you) a friend request and then doesn’t respond to a follow up message. And then you wonder if perhaps they do not sign in often but they do because their wall is peppered with hourly tid-bits and comments. Anyway I digress. During the course of our conversation Funmi mentioned the name of a town that I have not been to in well over 10 years. At that point I realised I have a memory for every place I’ve been to. A bit like child number 3 who has a narrative for just about every word he says. I guess he gets that from me, I have a story behind every outfit I own, many times when complimented on a dress, I start at the very beginning.

Stratford  Thanks to a kind family, I lived in Stratford for about a year when I first arrived from Nigeria. But the main memory I have is of the day I went swimming. I had this friend who wanted to date me. I come from the school of thought that belives in playing hard to get, yet I wanted to impress him. So when he asked how I spent my afternoons after school I told him I usually went swimming. He asked if he could come along the following Thursday, I wanted to show off some more so I said ‘sure’. Trouble is I couldn’t swim. Enter dear friend Eva. I grabbed hold of her and informed her that somehow, anyhow, I must learn how to swim by Thursday. Day after day we trekked to the swimming baths in order not to bring a disgrace upon my good family name!

Highbury My cousin lives there. Safety and security come to mind when I think of Highbury. My big cousin always was (and still is) a welcoming face. She loves to cook and entertain and so we have a feast whenever we go there. I remember standing at the bus-stop by the butcher’s waiting for bus 4 or 19. I didn’t mind at all as the butcher was just like the ones you read about in fairytales- fat, jolly and wearing a white stained apron. Next to him was the cobblers. Again like the ones we used to read about, particularly because where I come from they are not called cobblers but shoemakers. 20 years later, the butcher and cobbler are still there, same sign, nothing’s changed. That’s security, un-moved by time.

Elephant and Castle I hate that place. Sorry if you live there but I actually loathe the place. I have memories of dear friend Tinuke and I in our student days, living a student’s less-than-cushy life. Plus it took me a while to realise that the station actually had a shopping centre in it or vice-versa which was unbelievable dinghy, I thought it was an indoor market- then again maybe that’s what it was. Either way I still don’t like it.

Cricklewood  Many fond memories here. My uncle and aunt’s home and I loved living there. One day someone parked in front of the drive-in, Tinuke promptly told him to move his car as he was blocking our drive- not that we had a car. He refused. That night we both made eba (starchy, sticky African staple meal which hardens on exposure to air) and plastered it all over his windscreen then we stuck a note-” See, we told you not to park here!” I am cracking up as I write this! The next morning the oyinbo man came out and as Tinuke walked across the road, he tried to run her over, we burst out laughing! He was lucky it was a slightly damp night, the plan was to have had the eba harden by morning.

There are so many memories, some unbelievably embarrassing with a major cringe factor! Who knows, I might muster up the courage to share some day.  Like the day I walked in on uncle Ade…

Thanks so much for reading, do come back.

 

Playing God

The whole timetable thingy has been a huge success. You may remember from a previous post where I finally admitted that I needed to budget my time and money. So I started with a weekly meal planner which features my family’s favourite meals. On each day I have about three options- hard, not so hard and dead easy to fit in nicely with my mood or energy levels for the day. I shop for the week knowing exactly what we’ll be eating throughout the week.  Hubby isn’t picky and most of the time is happy with whatever I cook. Occasionally I get the ‘Nah, I’m not feeling that Toks’ . On those days I give him the impression that he actually has a choice. This is when I pull out my other 2 options and he decides. Or so he thinks. As for the kids they don’t have a preference- that’s African parenting for you. There is no “Sweetheart what will you like to eat?” Instead it is “What is that meal you hate so much? Rice and Broccoli Stew? You better clean your plate, I’ll be watching you because that’s what we’re having!”.

Some African Parents love to play God. They decide what their children will study at school. Who they will get married to and when. They plan the wedding, pick the colours and decide on the guest list.  Actually this happens in many cultures. In some cases they even name the children borne out of the marriage, I have a cousin who loathes his own son’s name because his parents chose the name.

So it is with great pride that I preside over my family’s nutrition and choice of meals, even when they think they are exercising their own judgement, it isn’t really the case. Heck I even control their thoughts!

Like the X-factor drama. For my non-UK readers this is the UK’s version of American Idol. Viewers were made to think that they decided on which act stayed and which one was voted off, until Sunday when the two horrors by the name of John and Edward where “voted” to remain on the show. Word is that the results were rigged and Simon has secretly supported those two from the beginning. Poor Simon.

There are rules about playing God. For one don’t protest too much. You don’t want to risk having to make a decision that goes completely against the crusade you have been running. To go from “these boys are horrific, I will leave the country if they win” to “I-I-I  can’t decide” is a banned u-turn and there are cameras everywhere.

So when I take my throne as she-who-cooks-whatever-she-absolutely-wants-to-and-you-must-eat-it, you will not catch me protesting too much when child number 3 tells me he hates fish and don’t I remember that he is allergic to it? I will gently coax him and convince him that tuna is not fish. It’s just another type of seafood. After all I can’t please everyone, I’m not God.

Blackberry Bold, a Proper Noun

I am totally in love with my Blackberry Bold! Hubby isn’t smiling, he has accused me of spending more time with it than him. Sadly he is right.

My social life was suffering greatly as I couldn’t bear to be more than 20 minutes away from my laptop. I apologise if you are one of those  who had to endure my rudeness when I walked into your house and helped myself to your computer, sometimes without asking.  I stopped going out- choosing to remain glued to my pc instead. So when hubby suggested there was a better way to do things, the choice fell between the iPhone and the Blackberry.

After my research, I rightly concluded Research in Motion developed their phone for people who needed immediate access to their all-important emails. Picture Donald Trump and every successful business man or woman.  Michelle and Barack both use Blackberry too. And iPhone? well I picture urban, trendy, I-love-my-music-and-I’m-in-sync-with-the-latest-fashions. Blackberry = Success, iPhone = fashion accessory. Sorry iPhoners, don’t hate its just my opinion.

Do bear in mind that I have never owned a smart phone and the features I have  used so far is only a tiny fraction of what this amazing piece of equipment can actually do. If the Blackberry were a car, it’ll be a Rocket. Yes a R-o-c-k-e-t.

Okay! The first thing that blew my mind was that instead of chasing my emails, they were chasing me! My reaction? Oyinbo don crase! (Broken English very loosely translated – the creators of this thing are mad) The email notification is adjusted to bleep when I get a business email and the flashing red light when it’s a personal mail. I sometimes see that flashing light and feel the trackball under my thumb in my sleep.

There are at least a thousand applications, and I currently have facebook, The Bible and the AJC- Atlanta Journal Constitution. No doubt there are tons more I could use but we’ll do things poco-a-poco, let’s not get things too complicated here.

I discover something new almost daily, like when I called Bola and her picture promptly showed up on the screen, I did not upload that so where did it come from?  It took me a moment to realise that it was linked to facebook. 

Word, Excel and Adobe are all part of the package, an excel file on a tiny computer screen! I can also have QuickBooks if I want to be a sorry workaholic.

Needless to say my Blackberry doubles as an iPod, only better because I can now listen to music without the earplugs. Talking about earplugs, BB’s are sound proof. They plug deep into your ears and leave out all external noise, plus they are soft and comfy.

BB’s screen is very hi res so there are no compromises when you watch anything. I watched two episodes of Lie to me on my BB in a hotel room in Paris where all TV channels were in French. I missed nothing. The sound is crystal clear.

Internet access is fast and very user-friendly, you can easily highlight a phone number and call while surfing the net. Your browsing history gets saved and life suddenly becomes a breeze.  I chat with my brother almost daily as he is also a successful Blackberry user, we use the Blackberry messenger app, owners only. All in all Blackberry is for serious emailers and texters thanks to the full QWERTY keyboard, I play wordmole while on the queue at gas stations and supermarkets. Suddenly everything has a purpose!

And that’s why Blackberry is a proper noun, please don’t make the mistake of writing iPhone with a capital ‘I‘.

Rain, Rain

It rained today.

The world got washed while I slept just so that I could breathe in fresh, clean air on a bright new day. Thank you Jesus for a beautiful new day!

Whatever the challenges I face, I had a whole brand new day today and it smelt nice and was free from pollution.  Whenever it rains it is as though the previous day got washed away and a new day begins. I feel a calming peace as I start out with this new slate, wiped clean just for me. And yesterday’s unsolved problems are taken care of with new solutions and brand new energy.

Is it just me or do you also see clearer on a newly washed day? I thought so! Have a trully blessed day 🙂