I have been thinking today about the jobs I have had in my life. I have worked in most sectors through the years.
Before I left school I had three jobs (all unpaid). My mother wouldn't let me be a papergirl, but I managed three impressive jobs before I was 16.
At 11 I was a lifeguard here. I was tall and strong even at that age and was an excellent swimmer, so being shorthanded the hot summer of 1976 they gave me a vest and a whistle to twirl and put me on the baby pool.
Other than the usual bumps and bruises and lost breath, I had one little girl who slipped on the slide steps and clunked her chin on the bottom step, biting her tongue off. So much blood.
At 14 I was assigned my work experience in a nursery school, a classroom assistant to 2yr olds. A month spent gluing and painting was fantastic. It was at this time I started babysitting formally and my love of children was born.
At 15 I got a summer job working as a nursehelp in a small home for disabled children. There were various extremely disabled children there, mostly psychological. After working in general duties for the first week, I was assigned my own 'charge'. A beautiful little girl with autism. Her mother didn't understand her special requirements and she arrived with us covered in bruises from sheer frustration. The day I got her to keep her socks pulled up was a red-letter day in that house. That was also the day I learnt you got more with love than with violence.
During that year I was deeply committed to becoming a nun. Spurred on by 'A Nun's Story' and the hardship I had already seen, I wanted to devote my life to helping people, thinking being a nun was the way to do it.
My mother wouldn't let me convert and there are no Quaker nuns, so I thought about how a secular person can help.
At 17 I flunked my exams and left school and home under a cloud. I was supposed to be following family tradition and becoming a teacher. My mother was extremely disappointed in me (nothing new there!) and said 'You can't leave school unless you have a job' so I got a job that same weekend and didn't go back to school and left home! The job? Live-In Homehelp to a wonderfully crazy family of musicians. Dad travelled a lot with various orchestras and mum was a music teacher and composer, so they needed someone to help out with their four children. Added to this the youngest had just been diagnosed late with Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips, commonly called clicky hips. So she was in and out of hospital and in plaster of paris from her chest to her ankles.
I loved that job and I adored the family. I felt I had found what I was supposed to be doing. I helped in the huge grounds, scything grass, stripping out the old barn, feeding the horse, fixing the house, taught music lessons. Just sitting in the garden talking to the goats was restful.
But Reality stepped in. I was engaged to be married at 19 and my (now-ex!) husband didn't want me working there and said the wages weren't enough. So I left my gorgeous children after two years and got a job in the civil service with the Ministry of Defence. But the children remained with me longer than my marriage. After I left the marital home I went back to the children, working at the office during the day and helping out with the school run, homework and runny noses in the evening. I finally left them for good at the age of 23 when MB and I moved away.
As a conclusion to that part of my life, I went back a few years later when the oldest girls were grown and the younger ones were at boarding school. I was warmly greeted by all and we reminisced happily about those four years. They even still used all my old stock phrases!
I have been in the Civil Service for over 20 years now, doing most things in my career; pay, personnel, supply issue, data input, registry, secretary, finance, security, safety, management. Add in part-time work in petrol garages (gas stations) and retail (Marks and Spencers) and I have a lot of strings to my bow. Still looking after children in my off-hours - on my 6th family now! The families that grow and move on, there are always new babies to be looked after.
Finally, I have achieved a respectable grade (lower management) and have my dream job - helping people! Health and Safety is criticised a lot (and some institutions don't help with extraordinary safety measures) - until someone is hurt, then we're amazingly popular! My ambition is to be popular before someone gets hurt; prevention being better than cure!
I have just had my first 6 monthly review in my new job recently and they seem happy with me - and I am still very happy there.