ONE: I was fired from 1 – or discontinued because I guess I never had a real contract. It wasn’t my fault even though I also sprung a gigantic law suit (lol).I think what this job taught me is you don’t need a job. I was so restless back then, but the kind of restless that came from having 100 important ideas and a desperate need to share them. I used to sit at my desk with my typically unbrushed hair, impatiently trawling the internet for ‘appropriate’ photos representing issues I didn’t care about enough. I drafted perky messages addressing people I wouldn’t have been brave enough to talk to in real life and tried to make jokes about alcohol when really I was only just starting to drink it. It was a good job – but when you are young and when you can afford to take a break (which I know not everybody can) then sometimes it is better to just give yourself freedom. You have your whole life to work. When you’re 17 you’re running out of time to just be a kid. It was a relief to be let go, to log off and run out of my ranch slider and down the road, tripping slightly on the path as I made my way up to the shops. To meet my friends, already planning the next adventure.
TWO: I started working here when I was 18 years old, which was a violent technicolour of emotion. I remember walking to work here in that first year and it would be freezing, I would have my hands stuffed in the pockets of my puffer jacket, listening to Halsey or Ed Sheeran and admiring the most epic sunsets. Always these dramatic scarlet and blood orange streaks erupting from the sun, or those technicolour purple and pink skies with moody dark clouds in the background. I know that the sunsets must be the same as the ones we get now but still, I have never seen any quite as vibrant the ones above me on those frosty evenings home.
2 saw me through so many parts of my life. In a year of fast changes and turn arounds it was always steady and reliable. There were days I would show up in the best mood and others where I had been crying the whole way there. Some days I would dawdle out, and others I was rushing off home past the bottle store to make it to town. I remember once trying to cover this hickey on my neck with four layers of concealer and still being so paranoid the whole way through that it would rub off. When it rained I had to take an hour ride in a crammed bus that smelt vaguely of salt and bread and damp.
2 wasn’t a good job and we were dramatically underpaid but it also taught me a lot about patience, and kindness and how much someone can improve if you care about them a little bit. It is really easy to overlook people because they are smaller than you or can’t do the things that you can do, but if you take the time to listen you won’t believe how much trust they place in you. I still feel honoured really, and a little bit awed. When i left 2 it was with new eyes, no braces and bleached hair. With a new appreciation for red wine, and also a lot of warmth. It may have been hard sometimes but there were always people who made me laugh, and who wanted to see me. There was chocolate cake every three months with the most decadent icing, and familiar systems and people to roll my eyes at. I was 20 when I walked out the doors and began my 40 minute trek home for the final time and I had a lot to be grateful for.
THREE: taught me that if you don’t like it then you should definitely say so. I spent the entirety of my first solo shift in a vague sense of panic and definitely sent at least three customers to our competing stores because I was totally incapable. Redundancy has never tasted so sweet, I think I danced in the middle of the supermarket when I got the call. Honestly just a big thanks to my guardian angel on that one eh.
FOUR: was a strange job, in that I always forget that I worked there yet it has continuously come in useful, or found ways to remind me of itself in the strangest and most unexpected ways.Of all my jobs this one was the first that assured me I was capable. I spent a lot of time with people who knew more than me or were better and faster than me at the work but I was also good at learning, in a way that I didn’t expect to be.I think it also taught me the usefulness of empathy. I made so many people cry in this job and we weren’t paid to be empathetic but it always helped to be. Maybe it is not always necessary to be kind when someone is yelling at you, but often it doesn’t hurt to meet their fire with something a little cooler, a little calmer and with a bit of understanding.It also taught me the importance of having a PG but palatable playlist on your phone at all times.
FIVE: I was 20 when I started 5 and I stayed there for two years. If 18 to 20 was big, then 20 to 22 was immense. My years spent in this job are kind that feel so inconsequential when you try to remember the details yet when you try to reconcile who you are now with who you were back then it’s impossible. The changes, although almost invisible have been monumental.I began 5 the saddest that I have ever been. I had blood shot eyes from both surgery and crying, shocking blonde hair and yet this gentle and unwavering hope that there was something good out there for me. 5 answered all of my prayers. I think honestly, if anything it was a lesson that if you put it out to the universe and you work hard and give freely sometimes things you persevere at will start to give back. I re-found that familiar pattern of time accumulating into progress, and that progress being in something that matters.
I remember when I first started I would ride the bus to work in tears every morning but I would always show up with a smile when I walked in and in return I was given people who made me laugh and called me cute and distracted me. 2 years on, I still show up with a smile all the times I feel like crying and right until it closed its doors it continued to give me a haven and a community that I hadn’t quite found in Auckland before. There was no place in the city that could give me the same sense of peace in myself.
5 taught me employable skills like how to work an eftpos machine but moreso it taught me how to be myself without compromising the things I believed in. It taught me how to laugh at myself and how to confront things that weren’t fair. I learnt a lot about the importance of respect, and treating people like they’re worth a damn rather than just projecting your own expectations onto them. In this job I gained friends who I can’t imagine living without. I grew up and got smarter and finally understood the importance of cool expensive shoes and how nice hoop earrings look. I dress better, I speak louder (kind of) and I have more faith in the things around me. 5 is a job that I can never thank enough and I will also never forget.
SIX: is the kind of job that I guess I want to have for the rest of my life. It’s challenging in a lot of ways I never expected and exhausting in ways I did. It’s also, if I am being honest, a little bit terrifying. I really feels like any commitment made is permanent and yet there are often still times I look around and am not sold on the lifestyle presented to me. I don’t know if this is who I want to be forever.But i think if I am given the option I am still going to choose it. Because for every hard moment there is a satisfying one. And there have been good days and important work and even the slog of waking up to my alarm has been bearable with a fancy coffee machine for me to use. Also it is nice to finally use skills and information that I have been working at for the last few years. And it is nice to keep learning and to have so many people willing to clean up my mistakes but still give me a chance to make them. I feel invested in, I feel supported and I also feel that if I try and I keep working really hard maybe I could be really good at what I do one day. The work is difficult but it is not unconquerable – and I have always loved a challenge.
So far the main lesson 6 has taught me that nothing about being an adult is quite what you expect – but sometimes there is nothing to be done but keep going. And hope that once again time will accumulate progress, and that progress, by some miracle, will lead you exactly where you want to go.