When I was a child, I had high ambitions for my future career – and those ambitions changed every five minutes. Over time, I wanted to be;
A doctor (I hate blood and guts)
A nurse (ditto)
A police officer (I didn’t want to deal with hardened criminals)
A chef (I hate cooking)
A journalist (I preferred writing fiction)
An actor (I can’t act)
There were undoubtedly more, but I forget now. My son hasn’t gone through quite as many career choices as me; he briefly wanted to be a writer (like me) and a dancer (not like me), but his main interest has been in being a shop keeper. He is fascinated by shops and tills and all the different parts that make up the whole enterprise. We had a tour behind the scenes at Tesco Extra earlier this year, and he was in Heaven.
I asked him recently what kind of shop he wanted to open, and he thought for a long while, eventually settling on a kind of Hobbycraft type shop but cheaper. An admirable sentiment. He said that he had got it all worked out, that he would work as a teacher first for two years in order to save up the money he needed to open the shop. I gently explained that teachers didn’t earn big bucks, so I wasn’t sure if it would just take two years, but that banks can offer business loans in some situations – he was very happy with that, and said he wanted to then work on the tills when he opened the shop. Tills seem to be it (I’m even thinking about trying to find him a till for his birthday next year).
Careers never go the way you entirely expect them; there have been points in mine where I’ve left jobs because of bad experiences or because I’ve lost my job, and it’s scary and stressful in either situation. I recall one job (for a company that went bust soon after – thankfully) where the MD and finance director were married but going through a terrible divorce. It was evident that they hated each other, and the business had been brought into their personal dramas – longer-standing staff had allied themselves with one or the other, and the environment in the office was toxic. I escaped after 11 weeks, and that was 11 weeks too long. I spent three and a half years working for local libraries, and that was – overall – a lot of fun. The people made it enjoyable there, and I remember the laughter more than anything – I’m sure we’ve all had jobs when we’ve laughed a lot.
When I worked for the council, that was an eye-opening seven years; I’ve seen people at their best and at their worst. One person suffering with poor mental health tried to kill himself, whilst others casually went about their every day business without a care in the world. On the other end of the scale, a lady would come in every Wednesday without fail and bring us sweets and cake because of a kindness we had done her once; she’d also include magazines, marbles and, on one occasion, a packet of Rizlas. Another chap (I can’t say gentleman for reasons that will become apparent momentarily) managed to hide from the staff as they closed up the building one evening. Once everyone had gone, he dropped his trousers, evacuated himself, and spread the resulting mess throughout the building. That memory still hasn’t entirely faded from memory.
I know Bryan will make a brilliant shopkeeper when he’s older, if he decides to stick with it. He certain doesn’t flit between career ambitions like I do, so maybe he’ll find his niche more quickly than I did.