Thursday, April 18, 2013

Odd Jobs

I even worked in a shop at one time. Really odd when I come to think about it looking back nearly 40 years or so. Who really, honestly would employ me in a shop, with my total lack of maths skills?  I was hopeless at maths at school, so the very thought of me on a till doesn't bear thinking about.  How on earth I got the job I will never know. Well, the truth is I did get a job in a shop, and it was called University Audio and Photography. With a name like that it had to have a base in Cambridge.  I know they had a branch in Cambridge, but whether it's still there I don't know. I doubt it somehow. The Bedford Branch was in Silver Street, opposite Debenham's and in a unit which is now (or was, when I used to live there) occupied by a branch of Dolland and Aitcheston opticians. They sold cameras upstairs and audio equipment downstairs (University Audio, not the opticians. Well, of course. That's being just plain stupid to think an optician's would stock such things.) I was supposed to work in the audio department, but for some reason I cannot ever fathom, this was closed when I went to work there and was put in the photography department upstairs.  I imagine I got the job because I did actually have some interest in audio equipment and stereo in particular, but I don't think I made a very good salesman. I think it was closed because it was only open in the winter. And It was during the summer that my brief employment seemed to occur. Strange, but that was how it was and I can't think of any logical explanation as to why. Was it that the company thought that people they wanted as customers didn't buy audio equipment at any time other than during the winter?  Re-arrange the stock. Dust the shelves, make idle banter. Try and look busy and then pounce on the first person through the door who looks as if they might actually part with their cash. Not very likely. So I was stuck in that department. We weren't allowed to sit down during opening hours. Which can be a bit of a strain, standing for a good 7-8 hours without sitting down. It sounds like something out of the sitcom 'Are You Being Served' but certainly not as funny. The manager, one Mr DeWitt (I cannot remember his first name, more like Mr Witless when you read further.) was a real snob in regard to photographic equipment. He really turned up his nose when selling Kodak Instamatics or any of the more popular variety of cameras, mostly those that used the cassette-loading systems that cameras were utilising then (you have to remember that this was a good three decades before the introduction of digital cameras.) For some reason or other the shop never opened on a Saturday, another strange mystical decision that wouldn't happen today. But, on one particular Mr DeWitt DID open the store on a Saturday, when he had a customer for a very expensive camera, which was going to cost well over £600. I'm not sure what sort of camera, but presumably not one using Instamatic technology. Most likely a Nikon or other very top-of-the-range camera. I don't actually recall whether he made a sale. Probably he expected to get commission on the sale, but I'm not sure. The reason being I never found out because I didn't last the week. Boredom and not being able to sit down all day was too much and I left after a week. The store closed down and I put this down very much to the company's strange opening arrangements and not having half the shop available for customers. As regards money and tills, with today's technology you don't even have to work out the change as they can do this for you, and just scan the bar-code on the item for the price to go through the till, so I don't expect it's that difficult. But I'm never likely to have to work in a shop again. I'm not really suited to that sort of work and can get easily bored and it was boring, waiting for customers to come in. I sympathise with anyone who works in a shop, basically for that reason.
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