Sunday, 6 May 2012

Storytelling Sunday - Thank you for calling Wickes, how may I help you?

I actually answered our phone at home like this a couple of times, I said it so often at work. My Saturday job while I was doing my A Levels was in the very unglamourous Wickes DIY store! 4 of my college friends and I  started there when a new store opened near my home. We were there begging for autographs at the grand opening with Chris Tarrant and his then Capital Radio sidekick, Kara Noble. Every Saturday, and 2 evenings a week, I dressed in my gorgeous red jumpsuit and went out on the shop floor. Sitting on the tills and counting bricks was tedious. Shelf filling was boring, but at least provided the opportunity to slacken off and have a chat. The worse job of all was cleaning the kitchen and bathroom displays. At least once a month a toddler would mistake the display toilet for a functioning one!
No, I absolutely DO NOT have a picture of myself. They seem to have updated the uniform a bit since my jumpsuit!

 It was much more interesting when I became senior enough to work the phones and deal with queries on the customer service desk, even though most of the queries were complaints. One customer came up to me on a Saturday and placed a small box on the desk
"I bought this box of 100 nails on Thursday." He announced
"Yes, Sir?"
"There are only 96 in there. What are you going to do about it?"
When I stopped laughing, I gave him his 4 nails!

Another day, on the tills, a customer approached with half a dozen boxes in his trolley. They said 'White Downlighters. £4.99' and at the time I knew the product code off by heart. I picked one up and opened it to make sure it was intact. Oh dear. There was a brass downlighter inside. Not what the customer wanted, I innocently assumed. I opened another. Another brass one (price £9.99). All 6 boxes had been opened and the contents deliberately replaced with the more expensive item. Funnily enough, the customer didn't wait around for me to ask the manager to get the white ones for him!

I worked at Wickes for 2 years, but left when I moved away to college. Then, going from the sublime to the ridiculous,  I landed my dream holiday job. In A Chocolate Shop! Posh, handmade Belgian chocolates, no less. My name is Kirsty and I am a chocoholic. I was in heaven!

Every Christmas, Easter, Valentines and Mother's Day for the next 4 years I worked there, hand-wrapping beautiful boxes of luxury chocolates. I worked hard; there were always queues out of the door at peak times, but I revelled in it. The smell of cocoa, the pretty lengths of ribbon.  I learned to wrap and decorate a box in under a minute. I can still wrap a mean birthday present, as long as it's square! I even I got 50% discount, and I was encouraged to try all the produce so I could give the customers helpful advice!

Those are the only non-teaching jobs I have done. What about you? Any work experience to share? or any other stories? If so, head over to Sian's Storytelling Sunday and link them up.

27 comments:

Ruth said...

A nice glimpse in to your life.

Amy said...

I know what you mean about presents that are not square or rectangular!
A great story Kirsty!

JulieJ said...

LOL to the tinker with the brass light fittings - bet he thought 'I'll go to the young one, she'll not notice' - well done you! I hated my time on tills at Sainsbury's but worse was the cigarette kiosk - it was dead for long periods - plus I didn't smoke, so pretty gross.

Mary B said...

I love the story of the 96 nails very droll and tongue in cheek customer there

Missus Wookie said...

My dd would check the nails and of course these days they say 'about' in small print. Clever catching on the brown.

Non teaching jobs - hmm I've always had more than one income string so lots. I'm sure the customer service skills work well when dealing with students and parents :)

scrappyjacky said...

My Saturday and holiday jobs were nearly always in shops as well...my favourite was a trendy boutique in London where I got 30% discount!!

Jane said...

my Saturday job was in the library, perfect for me!

Sian said...

Kirsty, this is a fantastic story! I always feel it's a real privilege when someone reveals something new about themselves on Storytelling Sunday - and now I have a wonderful glimpse of the teenage you, jumpsuit and all! I love it.

I didn't have a Saturday job, but I did have a couple of friends who worked in the lingerie dept of a big department store and they have some funny stories to tell

Clare said...

I know which one of your Saturday jobs I would prefer (hint: I don't look good in a jumpsuit!) My Saturday jobs included collecting beer glasses, working on a chicken farm collecting eggs and cleaning for a wealthy neighbour!

Fiona@staring at the sea said...

Glad they didn't manage to pull a fast one with the light fittings. We recently bought a 5 litre tub of paint from B&Q. Opened it up to start painting and almost half the paint was gone! People will try anything it seems.

humel said...

How fun to hear about your (non-teaching) jobs :) I had a Saturday and holiday job in a bakery, which I loved - they gave us our wedding cake for free when I got married! I also had a job as a mystery shopper for a while, that was fun. A low point was putting cooked snails back into their shells ready to serve in a posh pub-restaurant...

furrypig said...

a great insight into some of your work adventures in the past! I know where to come when I need a box wrapped now!

Sabrina S. said...

Hi Kirsty,
Nice work stories. To pay for college, I worked at the library and I had to share a computer with one of my colleagues who was a true pervert (like in animal sex). Gross. GROSS stuff. Wrapping chocolate boxes sounds way better!
Have a nice Sunday,
Cheers from France

Becky said...

Great stories about your early work life - I would have loved to have worked in a chocolate shop! I worked in Sainsburys for 6 months and then Boots for 2 years before I got my first full time job. Thanks for sharing :)

Beverly said...

lol great work stories and a bonus that they provided you years later with an amusing post, wonder if the light guy reformed or tried it at other stores?

heart.hearth.home. said...

I so enjoyed reading about your various jobs when a student. Mine were in a biscuit factory and a toothpaste factory. The biscuit one didn't help the waistline and I have never been able to use that particular brand of toothpaste since the early sixties!

Miss Smith said...

Fab story - it's amazing what great memories even quite mundane jobs can drum up! I love the chap with the 100 nails! Although nothing is going to make me view my stacking job at a supermarket with fondness.

Melissa said...

I totally laughed at loud at the 96 nails! My first job was at McDonalds (when I was in high school), but after a few weeks I quit because I wanted to be sure my grades were high enough to get me a scholarship to college - I knew I was meant for better jobs. LOL

Chipper said...

I am surprised that the chocolate job didn't put you of chocolate. My mom worked for CocaCola and she won't touch the stuff at all. My worst job was delivering the local community paper. It was a free paper that came out once a week. I had to insert all the junk mail and then fold them all and deliver them. I had three days to cover my whole area. I was 13 and only lasted the 6 months that I had committed too. It was awful, they had to be delivered whether it was stinking HOT or pouring with rain. But it was a good learning experience. And it took the three days of before and after school deliveries on my bike to get them all out. I must have been much fitter then! LOL

Cheri said...

My first job (that wasn't a paper route or babysitting) was at Sears & Roebuck in the key shop, where I cut duplicate keys and made rubber stamps to customer's order. It was a stinky dirty job and I got metal shavings in my eyes more than once (they didn't supply goggles!) but it really stands out as something unusual for a teenage girl to be doing!

Sandie said...

I love your stories about the customers in Wickes. I wonder why the man didn't hang around when you spotted the wrong light fittings in the boxes! I did one mornings work in a hairdressers, sweeping up, and decided I was much better off at the stables where I got paid in rides!

Lynn said...

Great to hear your stories of working in wickes and the chocolate shop. One of my holiday jobs was in Waitrose on the kings road - being in Chelsea we got a far number of celebs doing their weekly shop - it certainly made a boring day brighter working out who was who!

S said...

Great stories - we always take a little from every job away with us, don't we?

Gail said...

What great stories from your first jobs. Love the nails story and good on you for checking those light boxes.

Lizzie said...

Fab story, Kirsty! The DIY shop job sounds like a good "starter job" though - I bet you all had some fun times. My very first job, at 14, was in a small cafe, next to the owner's family hairdressers. I got free haircuts and everyone was so nice to me. When I was 16, my friend got me a job in McDonalds; did me good, I learned a lot about hygiene and cleaning - also had some great fun too.

I never had a job in a chocolate shop though... oohh.. that would have been rather nice. Perhaps it's just as well... oink!
Sounds like you had a great time though - and learned a few useful "Life Skills" along the way!!

Clair said...

Oooh! I've now started reminiscing about all of those tedious jobs that I used to have. I think that's the sign of a good story told x

Jo said...

It's amazing what people will do to save money! I think your second job sounds much nicer than the first :)