Monday, 29 August 2011

This day in history

On this installment, we go back in time to four years ago... when I was eagerly anticipating my first day of work at the Doncaster Free Press. I had never worked for a newspaper before - hardly ever worked in an office, even - and certainly never worked in an office in England before. I had secured my full-time job (which was a harrowing experience: I never thought a valid student visa, and then a valid post-graduate visa, would be so problematic) and was suited and booted for a day at the office. Little did I know that my start date, Monday, August 27, 2007, was a...

wait for it

Bank Holiday!

And here I was, silly American, trundling off into (quite a deserted) town with my little handbag and my little new shoes, and my hair all brushed and straightened with straight irons and my neck and wrists perfumed, my eyes stuck way back in my head because I hadn't slept the night before from all the anticipation, trying to get into an office that was closed. The front counter reception - I could see my desk right over there in the dark room - empty, some mail shoved through the post slot and scattered like old leaves on the floor, no phones ringing, no staff wandering around importantly, no customers wanting to place an advert about a lost cat or a car for sale or a birthday memory.

Bank Holiday? I wondered. What is this thing called a Bank Holiday?

We don't have Bank Holidays in the US. However we do have Labor Day, Memorial Day, and Christmas. But perhaps because of my job options, which were pretty few when I was just a gangly little teenager in between school years/university/stages in life, I never worked in that inaccessible place called the Office, and so I never enjoyed Labor Day, Memorial Day, or Christmas Day off. I always ended up working those, like a spoon.

This is because I worked at places like Frederick's of Hollywood, J C Penney (lingerie department, is there a pattern forming here?), one very brief stint at Dairy Queen, one very very brief stint on the weekends at a local veterinary office, a summer job at a dental office, an acquaintence's horse barn, a ten-hour-a-week semester job at the University Computer Labs at Ball State during my freshman year, a bookstore, a hotel (housekeeping, then front desk, then front desk supervisor [which meant both]). These were jobs in which there were no true office hours, no Monday to Friday.

The UK has eight Bank Holidays a year, and these include New Year's Day and Christmas Day. And one of these happens to be the Summer Bank Holiday, which is the last Monday in August.

And so, work contract in hand with the starting date clearly stating, right there in black and white, the day of the Summer Bank Holiday, I could conclude nothing but that, in this crazy country I now live, my first official day of work is a day off.

That just about makes sense doesn't it?

And so I trundled back home, stopping on the way for a coffee. And enjoyed another day to myself.

And now, here we are, 2011, four years later. On the same Bank Holiday. Only now I have the experience to know that I shouldn't waste my time getting up for a silly, stupid alarm clock.

It's 10:33 AM and I am enjoying a cup of coffee and resting my soul.

Today is a day to simply be.

Ah, it's wonderful.

And that concludes this installment of...

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