Matthew Munson: Looking at the world of work

Matthew and Bryan

A usual week in Casa de Munson often revolves around making sure Bryan gets to school and his dance lessons on time, family time together, and finding interesting things to do – as well as (for me) university and work.

This week has felt busier than usual, predominantly because I’ve gone into the office for two days. That’s unusual, given that I usually work from home and only go into the office a couple of times a month. It works for me, and for the charity I work for; I can get my work done as easily from home as I can from the office, and it allows me to be more present for my son during these years when it’s going to be more important. So going into the office for two days in a week was a bit of a shock to the system.

I used to solely work in offices, of course; I never wanted to work from home, as it didn’t work for me. But Covid changed all that, as it did many things, and I realised that there was an opportunity to better balance work and family life – so of course I took the opportunity being offered to me with open arms.

My very first job was a Saturday job at Waitrose in Ramsgate. It was 1997, and I turned 16 in the June of that year. I got the job in a free and fair interview process. That said, Waitrose also considered family members of existing staff towards the top of the list, and my mum worked at Waitrose at the same time. That might have helped. I enjoyed the two years I spent there, working every Saturday on the tills in a scratchy brown uniform, and occasional Sundays collecting the trolleys in the same scratchy brown uniform … which cheered me up no end when it was the height of summer.

On my very first day working at Waitrose, my grandparents came to shop in the store. They never shopped at Waitrose, but they did that Saturday, and I was delighted. There was a strict rule stating that cashiers couldn’t serve close relatives, and we followed the rule – but if my nan could have found a loophole, she would have taken it in a heartbeat.

Bryan has expressed a vague interest in following on in the family tradition when he’s a bit older, but that’s down to him. A Saturday job would be good for him, giving him some extra responsibility and letting him earn his own money. Of course, I’ll help him find a job when the time’s right, and I’ll be proudly walking past him if he ends up in a customer service role – as will (no doubt) his grandparents. He’ll probably be embarrassed at the sight of his dad turning up at his workplace, but I’ll play it cool … hopefully.

I’ve had quite a lot of jobs over the years. In my 20s, I tried a lot of different roles. A couple, I really struggled with, and only stayed a few months. I was genuinely miserable, and I wasn’t prepared to stick around and put my mental health at risk for jobs that were terrible. There have also been jobs I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and made friends, and enjoyed getting up in the morning – and those moments I cherished then and still do now. It makes me appreciate the benefit of a good team, an interesting job, and good opportunities – when that happens, you want to keep hold of it for as long as possible.

Having a good, stable job is even more important for me now as a single parent, and I want to show Bryan the benefit of working hard as much as enjoying the job you do. It’s a privilege when that happens, and I know how fortunate I am to have had a lot of positive experiences at work. I’ve worked in libraries and for councils, supermarkets and children’s charities, and a part of my job is in social media – an industry that didn’t even exist in its current form when I first started working.

I can’t wait to see what Bryan decides he wants to do with his career, and I can’t wait to cheer him on as he grows up and tries new things.