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Nan and her maid

Welcome back to my new series, “This one time…” If you are new to the series then you can read the first episode here, which is all about the most embarrassing moment of my life that took place at Yosemite National Park, California. In this series, I hope to write as many comical and/or inspirational travel stories as I can. If you are interested in me writing up one of your stories then please, be sure to contact me and I can give you further details on the plans I have for this series.

Today’s story is inspired by my amazing and inspirational nan who – when she was just nineteen – travelled all the way from rainy England to the other side of the world with her husband. She stayed for two years because her husband was in the army and in that time it sounds like she was living the dream. Swimming in the morning and the beach in the afternoon – what more could you ask for?

Back in the day, it was custom that once you had found your man and got married than a baby would usually follow. Pamela was 19 years old living in Paradise, what a better time to ask for a baby? Living in army quarters she had an amazing housewife who took care of everything. The heat was unbearable for an English girl living in George Town and so Pam spent the majority of her time swimming and taking trips to the beach.

The other side of the world from her family, she soon began to become friendly with the maid, whom everyone called Nora although Pam suspect that was an English name they assigned her. Unfortunately, this friendship was challenging due to the fact that Nora’s English was limited and English was the only language that Pam spoke. Pam tried to show her gratitude by attempting to help her with the housework but she was pulled away all too often.

One of the unique quirky behaviours that the maid adopted was that every day she would always hand Pam a banana to eat throughout the day. When this first happened she was amazed at just how tiny the fruit was, they didn’t get them like that back in England. She thought nothing of it, perhaps it was what was grown out here.

In 1966 England won the football World Cup for the first time. It was a joyous occasion and all the Brits living out in Malaysia were over the moon. Everyone had a spring in their step. Not long after this triumph Pam happened to grab her neighbour who spoke both languages to ask her maid why the bananas were so small. It turns out it is an old wives tale for the locals that eating a tiny banana a day will help a woman fall pregnant.

Pam laughed at this and found it the sweetest of gestures. Of course, she was in no rush to have a baby but she was happy regardless. From then on, every time the maid would hand Pam a banana she would express that it was for the baby, usually by rubbing her tummy and articulating ‘baby’.

With no success, Pam left the Borneo jungle with only her husband. She came back to living a life full of housework and little money. Being back in England wasn’t quite the two year holiday like it was in Penang. It was just then, when she was drowning underneath a pile of laundry, that she discovered she was expecting.

“I guess the banana’s worked after all”, she smiled.

My beautiful Nan

 

 

To any of you who have worked in retail before, you will probably have a good indication as to the purpose of this post. Why? Because we have all been there. Listening to the manager explain to the customer what you said five minutes previously. Reorganising a shelf after already tidying it twelve hundred times that day. Last but not least, having to hide the frustration and resentment you have towards a difficult customer with a smile. It can be hell on earth but here I am explaining why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life…

It gives you thick skin…

I got my first retail job when I was 16 years old. I work at Colchester Zoo, to anyone who has heard of it. And no, I didn’t do anything interested like feeding the Meerkats, I merely worked in a gift shop. It was slightly different to the average retail job, meaning that you would often get to wander round the zoo with a giant handful of balloons or dress up like Jigsaw at halloween. I enjoyed the unique aspect to this job. However what I didn’t enjoy was something which all retail employees get to experience – being yelled at!

I had my fair share of nightmare customers come my way. One in fact decided to call me a bitch in front of his children because the monkey enclosure was closed for refurbishment. I mean, did I – at 16 years old – look like I had any authority in the overall running of the zoo? No, I did not. Did I have any control over the fact that this man stupidly didn’t check the website for updates on the runnings of the zoo. Absolutely not. Did I deserve to be scream at like a naughty child, NOOOO!

Working in retail you learn to develop a thick skin. You can’t let customers get to you even if you have been working ten hour shifts and really don’t care to actually ‘check the back’ when they ask. I mean, we’ve all walked to the cupboard stood for a few minutes only to regain some strength and then returned to the customer apologising for the lack of stock. Anyway, the point being is you learn to handle rude people and not let it get to you. This is one of the reasons why I truly believe everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. You’ll soon realise that you no longer get treated as an individual and adapt.

Your levels of patience will be tested!

When you work in the same shop for however many shifts, your patience will get tested. It will be the same routine and you will be repeating yourself to every customer that walks into the shop. You begin to get a routine in your head of what you said to each customer. For me I used to get so tired by the end of the shift I would end up not making sense and getting my words muddled. For example, instead of saying ‘hi, can I help?’ to a new customer I mixed it up with ‘enjoy the rest of your day’. They were beyond confused.

Ultimately, working in retail can result in you becoming more patient. There will be customers that will need something explained to them a million times and you just have to bear with them. Especially when they’re not rude, you’ll be eternally grateful and happy to spend a little extra time helping them out. You will also find customers that are beyond lovely and will ask about your day, rather than just complaining about the price of something. These people honestly lift your day up and get you ready for the next demon customer you have to face.

You meet the best of people

When you work in retail, especially in a big store, you get to meet a wide range of people. Some of who you’ll remain close to for long after you leave. You bond over the simplest things. One Boxing Day I worked and we had the privilege to sit down all day counting stock rather than having to deal with people – we literally just locked ourselves in a cupboard all day and opened up a puzzle we sold. It’s the little things that make you happy.

You also gossip about all the eventful things that happen at work. One summer Ed Sheeran paid a visit to the zoo with his family and it was so exciting. When he came into store, we all laughed at our managers who were bothering him more than the customers.

You grow a new respect for employees wherever you are…

To sum up, why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life is so that they grow a new respect for employees wherever they shop/eat at. Since I started working in retail I will never put something back in the wrong place, because I know how frustrating it can be to the employer. I have also grown to always be polite to the employee and never treat them as if they are not an individual. Sometimes big companies don’t pass down information to the lower-level employers so it is just unreasonable to be rude or belittling because they do not know something.

What I hate most in the world is watching a customer be incredibly rude to an employee and the staff member not knowing what to do. As much as we would like to put you in your place, we are always told to polite to customers I just wished it worked the same way!

 

Anyway, there are my reasons as to why everyone should work in retail at least once in their life. I would love to think that this post has inspired you to apply for a new job, but lets face it, it probably hasn’t. Working in retail sucks but at least I have done it and can take lessons learned onto my next occupations.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Comment below your worst experiences working in retail or the worse things you have seen whilst shopping!

 

As I approach the end of university, I am surprised as to how I have managed to see the final days of my degree. For some people university is the best years of their life, but for others it can be soul-destroying. I sit firmly in between the two. So, I thought I’d give my top advice on how to survive university. Some of my advice may sound like the most obvious thing you’ve read today, but believe me, when you’re thousands of words behind on an assignment it can be easy to loose sight of the simple ideas.

Gain Perspective

My first piece of advice, to anyone who is wondering how anyone ever survived this nightmare of a degree before you, is to gain perspective. If you fail your degree, get a third, or drop out – you will still have air in your lungs and a life to be lived. I know university can be stressful and everyone wants to do well, however I find that having the perspective that you don’t have to have a degree makes it suddenly less stressful. It’s easy for me to say I guess, I was the first person out of family to attend university and so I’ve never had any academic pressure from my family. But, I do know that if you do have a family that expect you to get a first, there can be a lot of pressure put on you. Just remember that it’s your life – not theirs and being proud of yourself is the only thing that matters anyway.

Most of the time, when I’ve done bad on an assignment, I can almost always put it down to overthinking and stressing before the deadline. This just proves that stressing about something is pretty pointless. I read a quote the other day and it said that if you stress about something you essentially go through it twice. This enlightened me and from now on, I’m going to try and live by this. Although I always find it difficult to follow my own advice.

Get involved

I’m a strong believer that you only get one life and so there is absolutely no point in sitting around doing nothing. Yes, university is hard work. But – if we’re being honest at times it’s not that time consuming and so you can get up and do something productive. Volunteering? Part-time job? Gym? A benefit to all of this is that it will make you stand out on your C.V. after university. There are plenty of people who have a degree, but even less who have a degree and ran a society, for example.

In my experience, I also find that having a job has helped me with my studies. Before, I would procrastinate so much because I was worried about the assignment. Now, I have no time to procrastinate and it just makes me get on with it. I’m also earning money too, which is never a bad thing.

Just do it and worry later

If you’re like me, and you’re a complete stress head who will defend their procrastinating until the day they die, you may struggle the most with starting the essay you’ve been dreading. Once I have a flow of words going on a page I tend to just get on with it, however I always worry that It will not be perfect and so I delay starting the work. Sound like you? The biggest thing I’ve learnt is to just get anything onto the page – even if it’s just a few words. You can always come back to editing it later!

Another thing to remember is that just because you are a poor university student, it doesn’t mean you should put a pause on your personal life. If there’s a big party coming up and you’re worried about getting your work done, just go to the party and worry later. Chances are you would only be procrastinating doing the work anyway. Honestly, when you’re old and you’re looking back on your life I think you’d much prefer having memories than a first class degree.

Anyway, that’s just my advice. I’ve never been the perfect student and so I’ve always struggled. Now, I just do what I can to get by and thats all what matters to me now – seeing the end of it. But if you are struggling with university and it’s all getting a bit too much or you, please contact someone. I did, and it did me the world of good. Contact your university counselling service, your academic advisor or (if you’re in the U.K.) contact the Samaritans. From my own experience, they are brilliant at making me feel a lot better in myself!

 

 

Hello, and welcome to my first ever blogging series called, “This one time”. In this series, I plan to write a collection of posts full of different travel related stories. I promise you these will all be real accounts of my adventures, however, what I can not promise you is that they will be published once a week. It’s me. As extremely sarcastic and annoying I am, I do not hold the talent of being organised, and so, this time next week I’ll probably be munching away at some popcorn at the cinema forgetting I had even starting this series. I promise you I’m a good blogger sometimes.

Anyway, this weeks story is all about this one time I was at Yosemite National Park and I had a close encounter with a bear. That’s right, a bear! My inner Bear Grylls was summoned and if you would like to find out just how much I embarrassed myself then read on…