I graduated from University a few weeks back with a something degree in somethingness. I had a Plan A and a Plan B figured out in my head as to what to do with my postgraduate life. But, like most youthful plans, they were both grossly unrealistic. Plan A required a few million dollars and in Plan B I was a few inches taller. I tried straining really hard in the mirror but my legs refused to stretch. I also tried staring really hard at my bank account but my dirty overdraft persists.
Okay, this is gonna be harder than I thought.
*Strains one more time*. Damn it. Plan C it is:
- A local shoe shop that desperately needed a ‘Customer Assistant/Advisor’. The names given to these hilariously low paid jobs make me laugh. The only relevant bit of that unnecessarily long and formal job title is ‘ass’. Oh, and perhaps the slash between Assistant and Advisor, because, y’know, it makes you want to slash your wrists. Anyway, as if you didn’t know already, working in a shoe shop is sole destroying. (Ha. Ha?) I’ve been working there for about 4 weeks now and the tiny charismatic little chirping bird that lives inside me, that’s been zipping me through life like a glistening orb of energy, has been stabbed in the head by the gloomy vibes of the corporate world. The hard sell, rehearsed discourses about patent leather gloss and forever repetitive checkout routines are about as comfortable to me as a chair...made of, erm, death?
The worst thing about it, apart from being patronised constantly, exploited by superiors, and various other exhausting negatives, is the fact it’s not busy at all. Sometimes we get only 4 or 5 customers an hour which means there is a scarily long amount of time dedicated to thinking things over in your head with only a sea of nauseatingly garish toe-post shoes to look at. The whole experience feels like a big toe post, actually, a big uncomfortable wedge of unforgiving plastic between your toes, rubbing away at your skin. My life is turning into a blister. Someone get ready to pop me.
However, something interesting did occur a couple of days ago that made me re-evaluate the position I’m currently in. Before I tell this little anecdote the two things you need to know about the shop are:
- It is aimed at old people – most of the shoes are orthopaedic. MEANING, it is very very rare that anyone under the age of about 50 will come in. I do love most old people, but as a 21 year old guy it’s pretty depressing not seeing anyone born this side of 1980.
- There is a weird competition between employees regarding who can sell the most accessories, like shoe polish and protector and other things that make suicide seem like a desirable pursuit.
So, about 4pm on a particularly empty and unfulfilled Sunday, my Manager (who loves to describe herself as someone who ‘is the nicest person in the world until you get on the wrong side of her’… yeah, one of those people) turns to me with a very official looking clipboard and says that the lack of accessories that I’ve forced old people to buy reflects my work ethic, followed by a tut. Now, I know I haven’t made this clear already, but I’m working at this shop for some quick money before I go travel the world and pursue my dream of being a writer. So, being tutted at, as though my lot in life ends at the sandal aisle, annoyed me somewhat. Having made a vow to myself not to be trampled on by faux authority, I nodded at the clipboard in my Manager’s hand, adopted my best Hannibal Lecter voice and sneered ‘Ohhh you think you can dissect me with that blunt lil tool?’.
AND THEN, out of the fucking abyss, out of the nothingness that is the dank and uneventful Sunday afternoon, materialised a young beautiful girl with hair like fire. She roared a laugh at my reference from behind me, patted me on the back like an old friend and said ‘Oh man, you are hilarious’. She darted off giggling, leaving me with a puzzled manager and a smile on my face.
That's when I realized: good spirit is everything, and humour is the only tool against boredom and sadness. Sometimes, you have no choice but to sit out a period of time that is, for use of a better phrase, boring and shit. You’re presented with a wall, a big umovable roadblock that’s temporarily stopping you from doing what you want, and staring it down won’t help. You’ve got to laugh it down. You’ve got to let boring and shit things happen around you and take it in jest. You’ve got to look into your own personal abyss, whatever it may be at that particular time in your life, big or small, and joke about it, be sarcastic about it, just anything. Before long its laughing with you. Humour is your distraction, your friend in the dark, your way out.
The whole incident with the girl only lasted about a measly 10 seconds, and it made me feel all of 100% better about my shitty day/week/month. Suddenly Sunday afternoon felt like Saturday morning. Perspective defines everything. You can let your current situation niggle away at your mind, your confidence, your life, or you can laugh at the odds and make your own light.
Did you hear about the guy who waited up all night wondering where the sun had gone? The next morning it dawned on him.
Isaac is a recent graduate from the University of Leeds, and has completed a BA degree in English Language and Literature with Honours (2:1). As a writer and musician, he is passionate about exploring the diversity of culture, and in the near future, plans to leave Manchester and travel New Zealand.