BugJemm's Bubble

By BugJemm

Job challenge 1: Pic 'n' mix

Yesterday has well and truly caught up with me. I couldn't concentrate today and I'm very tired this evening. I was supposed to be going to this month's local colitis meeting but I'm too exhausted and decided to bow out. As I'd planned to blip a photo from the town in which the meeting was held, I had no pic for tonight.

I have therefore resorted to Plan B, which is a blip I've had in mind for a while and which will probably be the first in a series. I'm a medical writer and editor now, but I had a few different part-time jobs before getting my first 'proper' job after leaving university. So, I thought I'd take some photos to represent each job as a personal challenge.

Today's blip of pic 'n' mix is representative of my first paid job. On Saturdays, from the age of 15, I worked in Woolworths in Cambridge as a sales assistant. On my first day I was given a hideous nylon blue uniform and trained to use the old-style cash tills - the ones where you pressed levers to enter the price and had to work out the change in your head. I was trained in the morning and then put on the tills in the afternoon. By the next weekend the store had shut for refurbishment, so I had two weeks off. When I returned I was given a completely different (but still hideous) nylon, red and mint green, stripy uniform. I spent a morning being trained on the new electronic tills and then put on the shiny new shopfloor that afternoon.

I worked there for a year or so, doing Saturdays and sometimes Sundays (only for stock-takes as Sunday trading wasn't allowed back then). I worked on the tills on the ground floor and alternated between the toy and sweet departments, where I also had to keep the shelves, including the pic 'n' mix, stocked and 'walk the floor' to help customers. Towards the end I worked behind the tobacco counter because I was one of the only Saturday girls old enough to sell cigarettes. We used to have massive queues for the tobacco counter on Saturdays (sheer volume of traffic - not just the fact that I had no idea what the packaging for all of the different brands looked like) and they went out of the doors at Christmas, with people buying boxes of 200 as gifts for friends and family and to keep themselves in smokes until the shops reopened in the new year.

How times have changed since then. Aside from the attitude to (and price of) smoking and the never-ending shopping hours, my old Cambridge store closed down and is now a branch of Next, and then Woolworths as a company went under and disappeared from the high streets completely. I discovered tonight that it is now back trading online...and selling pic 'n' mix. If I'd know that I'd have ordered some in a Woolworths bag. Doh!

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