For the last year, I have spent most of my hours outside of lectures standing around in a freezing cold shop with noisy fridges, tossing a super strong magnet at the metal safe from varying distances and angles to keep myself amused (note: I am actually being paid for this, although technically the pay is for operating a till and not throwing magnets). Sometimes I read, but it’s hard to pretend you were actually doing something important when your manager pops down and you have a copy of Harry Potter in your hands. Sometimes it gets really exciting. Sometimes I even click pens or check Facebook on my phone.
Truth be told, I don’t mind retail that much. I’d rather work in a shop than an office – you might get rude customers, but they at least make for interesting stories (yesterday, for example, a man actually stood rattling the closed shutter of the shop until I came out from the back, where I was cashing up, to ask if we were open. The lights were off, the covers were over the drinks and – oh, alright, it’s not that interesting, but it beats staring at Excel all day). I’ve always known, though, that I would probably shoot myself if I had to spend the rest of my life working behind a till and the last year has done nothing but confirm that. If I hadn’t been accompanied by the certainty that I was leaving this job at the end of June then I think I would have gone thoroughly insane by now.
Which is why almost every penny I’ve earned (except, er, the pennies that went on new shoes and copious amounts of chocolate) has gone straight into my flight fund.
Thanks to this job (the official description for which I believe is something along the lines of “selling Pot Noodles to unwashed drunkards”), I have just booked my flights to Ljubljana on the 14th of July and my return flights back from Istanbul almost a month later. I haven’t exactly sorted out all the ‘middle’ stuff yet, such as how to actually get from one city to the other on a Student Union employee’s wage, but just seeing those tickets arrive in my inbox (courtesy of the ever classy easyjet) was enough to make the last year rearranging milk bottles and rationing myself to a Wine Gum every fifteen minutes in attempts to make the time go faster seem worth it.
This isn’t a trip I have exactly told my family all about. They know I am headed to eastern Europe, but I have conveniently missed out the words ‘hostel’ and ‘Bosnia’ – my Grandad is pretty sure that Bosnia is still a war zone (but then again, my Grandad is also pretty sure that my degree in Religious Studies qualifies me to be the next Vicar of Dibley) and my mother thinks hostels are nothing more than a playground for cockroaches and creepers.
Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’ll get there and I’ll hate it. Or maybe, just maybe, it might be the best thing I’ve ever done.
All I know is that as long as it’s not working in a shop, it’s fine by me.