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New Year, new me, same old clichés

Now that I’ve eaten my weight in chocolate, binge-watched a few box sets and argued over the rules of Scrabble, Christmas has come to a close and it’s time to bid adieu to 2016.

And what a year it’s been.

We’ve seen war and conflict, the wrath of ISIS,the triumph of a tangerine-faced tycoon and the fall of Harambe.

From David Bowie to Princess Leia, stars have dropped like the value of the pound and Brexit meant Brexit which meant nothing at all.

Oh, and for some reason people started running around dressed as killer clowns.

So yeah, it’s been a pretty bizarre year.

On a personal level however 2016 hasn’t been too shabby.

I climbed the highest mountain in North Africa, got a degree, sampled veganism, met Basil Brush, rode in a hot air balloon, reached 100wpm at shorthand and quit alcohol for good.

I made new friends, travelled, laughed, cried, sang and danced.

I saw the sunrise in the Sahara and Elton John in concert.

I had my heart broken and I made mistakes.

But in the end, through all of these ups and downs, I’ve grown as a person and inched one fumbling step closer to finding my place in this crazy world.

Then again, it’s New Year’s Eve so really I should forget all of this, focus on my faults, draft some resolutions and set about making 2017 my “best year yet.”

I’m not usually cynical about New Year’s resolutions.

After all I’m the kind of person who actually writes down life goals and approaches tidying with colour-coded post-it notes.

But as the saying goes “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions”, Hell in this case being the sofa which most return to one month into an annual gym membership.

So this year I’m not going to go for the same old “new year, new me” spiel.

As Gloria Gaynor sang “I am what I am”, so even though I maybe would like to have the body of a supermodel, the motivation of an Olympic athlete and the grace and beauty of a film star, I realise that such goals are unattainable.

So instead of making my New Year’s resolutions things which I would like to change about myself, I’m going to propose three things.

One thing I want to achieve, one thing I want to try and one philosophy I want to live my life by:

1.) Learn how to drive – not because all my friends are doing it or because someone told me to, but because it’s pretty essential for journalists and I’d like to have fewer public transport nightmares.

2.) Try dance classes – not because I want to get fit, or lose weight, or meet a sexy dance partner, but because it should be a laugh (if only for the other people in the class.)

3.) Embrace being single – not because I’m uber confident and don’t need anyone or because I want to have a Sex and the City-esque lifestyle but because I’m wasting too much time wishing that I was in a relationship (or pretending that I’m not) when I should just be enjoying life as it is.

So that’s it.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye 2016.

May 2017 bring you all that your heart desires.

Live long and prosper 🙂

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Treats and Tribulations: Part 2

 

“Work is the meat of life, pleasure the dessert” – B.C. Forbes 

But what happens when dessert is your work?

Even though my job often leaves me feeling like a sunken soufflé it still has its perks, ie. FREE CAKE!

Since I’m allowed this one pleasure I usually find myself planning what cake I’m going to sample on my break before I’ve even arrived for my shift.

To date my favourite is still the homemade red velvet but the fruit cake with vanilla icing comes in at a close second.

So yeah it’s not all that bad.

Since my first installment there’s been a bit of a change up to our staff at Treats.

We’re now a fully multicultural team since we’ve been joined by Senna who’s from Eritrea and a Slovakian girl called Lucia.

Sadly Luis has quit for reasons unknown.

Lucia thinks he had an argument with Yasser but he’s since been in to visit and even though I can’t understand Arabic, the laughter and manly handshakes would suggest no lingering animosity.

I imagine he just got fed up of working for a pittance.

Coincidentally Lucia, a stunning blonde of supermodel proportions, also has a degree in Business and is just trying to improve her English for a year.

I wonder how long it will be before young Mohammed tries to propose to her.

There was a French girl called Mailys who worked with us for a couple of weeks but she left, not only because the pay is a bit shit but also because Mohammed kept trying to arrange a date with her and asked her when she’d like to get married.

Senna  has an education from her home country and is frustrated by the fact that she has had to start from the bottom and re-do college since moving to the UK – somewhere she will stay for the foreseeable future since she recently married a guy from here. (at least she doesn’t have to worry about Mohammed’s advances.)

Other interesting developments are that I’ve actually been given the responsibility of renaming the business!

Since I’m the only native English speaker who works at Treats, Yasser decided to consult me on my ideas for new names.

So far I’ve suggested Temptations, Sugar Stop, Sweet Shack and Sprinkles.

Yasser liked Temptations although questioned whether it had any double entendre, i.e could infer desire for a woman.

I said “not really” but he didn’t seem convinced.

I’ve also had the pleasant task of writing the names of the ice creams in pretty fonts on wipe clean labels which was a nice change from unclogging the sink and picking stray hairs out of the custard.

The other day I actually tried to tell Yasser that I wanted to leave and find a better paid job but he practically begged me to stay, telling me that I was “very precious” to him and that “he’d kill me” if I left.

He was joking of course…I hope.

Anyway, since I seem to be stuck in this job for the foreseeable future I’ve devised a little game to make each six or nine hour shift more bearable.

From now on I’ll award myself points for certain things and see how high I can score – maybe I’ll even let Senna and Lucia in on the game….

Points are awarded as follows: 

Kill a cockroach                                                50pts

Kill a fly                                                              100pts (notably more difficult)

Receive a customer complaint                      30pts (though not on purpose)

Yasser says “tables, please”                         20pts

A fly dies in the Insectaflash                        40pts (a horrible sizzling sound)

Find a hair in the ice cream                           200pts

Find a hair in the custard                               80pts

Make a perfect crêpe                                      60pts

 

The list could go on.

Other recent events of interest are that a guy came in and randomly stole one of the fake roses from a display in the front window.

Mohammed chased him down the road where he quickly got into a getaway car with his girlfriend and bolted the door – all Mohammed could do was give him the finger and a few choice expletives.

I was confused since I mistook him for one of the people who randomly sell flowers up and down the curry mile like the Chinese woman who always comes in to harass the customers and offer them three roses for a fiver.

They’ve also installed security cameras so the owner can watch our every move from Saudi Arabia and report our wrongdoings to Yasser like some sort of Middle Eastern Big Brother.

Other than that there’s not much to report.

Each time I go to work I quickly fall into the rhythm of making milkshakes, cleaning the dishes, wiping the tables and repeating the process again and again in almost contented resignation.

The work could definitely be worse and I enjoy the simple things like seeing a child smile as they pick out an ice cream flavour or watching the cookie dough rise and expand in the microwave.

For now this job is the meat of my life, the cake that I eat there, the dessert.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 things I’ve learnt from working in retail

In order to add a little bit of financial security to my student life I’ve recently started a job at a well known High Street fashion retail outlet. I won’t name them in case they sue me or something, but suffice to say it’s very busy – all the time! Apart from the fact that I’m quite desperate for money, here are ten things I’ve learnt from working in retail:

1.) Men only buy socks and underpants

When I work on the tills it surprises me how many men just seem to buy socks and underpants. Do they expect their wives/girlfriends/mothers to always buy their clothes for them or do they survive off birthday and Christmas presents? It’s one of life’s great mysteries. Harry Styles apparently doesn’t even wear socks though….

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2.) Folding is an art

I laughed when my supervisor announced during my induction “Now we’re going to learn how to fold clothes.” Little did I know that it’s not as easy as it looks. Every item has to be folded differently and you must remember to follow the lines and make sure the size label is visible. Then you can wait 5 mins until a customer comes along, picks it up, briefly considers buying it and then puts it back on the table in a crumpled heap thus destroying your masterpiece. Repeat x100.

3.) My Maths GCSE is redundant

At school my Maths teacher always said that we’d need to be able to do mental Maths for sums and working out change etc. I use an electronic till which scans the items, displays a total and then tells me how much change to give. No mental effort required.

4.) Customer Service = Pretending to care

We are told that good customer service means being smiley, bubbly and above all helpful. Most days when I’m working I’m just counting down the time till my next break or my clocking off time when I can once again breathe the sweet smell of freedom. Forgive me if I smile, kindly apologise and tell you that the only sizes available are the ones which are displayed; I couldn’t be arsed to go on an expedition to the stockroom and trawl through seemingly identical ponchos.
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5.) The General Public are a strange bunch

The majority of people I come into contact with are perfectly normal but every so often I meet an odd one. Like the woman who told me that since my till was tucked away in the corner, I’d need a rocket to alert people to the fact I was there. She also addressed me by name which I thought was creepy until I remembered I was wearing a name tag.

6.) Rudeness is one of my pet hates

Since I’m being paid only slightly more than minimum wage to smile and act as though I care about the fact that you can’t find the right shade of beige jumper, the least you can do is be polite. Once a customer told me “Oh I‘ve obviously asked the wrong person.” If only I could have replied “I’ve obviously chosen the wrong weekend job.”

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7.) Age doesn’t equal experience

In most jobs the senior members of staff are those who are slightly longer in the tooth. In retail however you can start from the bottom at 16 and by 18 you can be a supervisor. Initially I felt a bit strange taking direction from someone who was three years younger than me but I’m getting used to it and I’m willing to learn.

8.) Some people become animals when they’re shopping

The state that some of the clothes tables can get in will always baffle me. I don’t expect people to neatly fold things when they put them back but surely they can refrain from just dumping them on the floor? Then there’s the mystery of the shoe department. I swear some people must finish trying on shoes and then fling one of them to the other side of the store just to mess with us.alone animated GIF

9.) Standing is really tiring

Whether I’m working in a department or on tills I know that on every shift I’m guaranteed to be standing for at least 4 hours. Until now I never fully appreciated how tiring this is – unless of course you’re actually doing something enjoyable like standing at a concert. On the plus side however I discovered that just standing for an hour can burn around 130 calories!

10.) I appreciate being at University

Even if someone were to offer me a management position at my current job I would gladly decline. I now appreciate the full value of my education and all of the additional career options which it can open up for me. Some people thrive from the busyness and the swift pace of retail work, but not me; I’m just here for the money really.

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Me on payday

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My unofficial guide to dating

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Well they’re not my favourite pair…

Disclaimer: Before you read any further please be advised that I am actually the real life incarnation of Bridget Jones (I’ve even gone to a party dressed up as a bunny when everyone else shunned fancy dress) therefore I am in no way a relationships expert. Any advice I give is purely my own opinion and you heed it at your own risk 🙂

1.) Delete Tinder
Do it now! Tinder may seem like fun but no matter how many stories you’ve heard of people who found their other half on it you’re most likely just to end up with a load of pervy messages and a swiping addiction.  I’ve never actually been on a Tinder date since the one time I did try to arrange a meeting the boy stood me up *cry*.  In the end I just had loads of matches and was meaninglessy making small talk and engaging in pun wars with people I was never likely to meet in real life. An app can and never will replace the feeling of meeting someone in a bar or a club. It takes away all of the romance, the rush you feel when your eyes meet across the dancefloor, that nervous beating in your chest. It’s time to take instruction from the ever wise Dora the explorer. Swiper no swiping! Adios Tinder.

2.) Get out there!
Now that you’ve deleted Tinder you’ll have lots more time to actually go out and meet new people. You can’t complain about never meeting someone special when all you do is stay at home and watch Titanic in your underwear. Don’t be afraid to make new friends by going to different places and perhaps joining a new club. It can be all too easy to always stick with your same circle of friends but branching out will give you more confidence and ultimately increase your chances of finding Mr. Right.

3.) Don’t rule out the “boring” ones
Ok so he doesn’t have tattoos or ride a motorcycle but the boy with glasses who’s reading the Independent will most likely be kind, friendly, loyal and less likely to have a criminal record. “Interesting” boys like troubled artists who smoke weed, write poetry and wear bandanas may make you think you’re in love at the beginning but in time you’ll realise that you fundamentally have little in common. I’m not saying you shouldn’t go for a certain type of guy. Just don’t make that your only reason for falling for him.

4.) Don’t be too crazy
We’ve all done crazy things in the name of love like stalking someone on Facebook or perhaps solliciting a tarot reading to ask questions about them (not me of course) but it can help to take a step back and ask yourself if it’s really love or just infatuation. It can be easy to come on a bit too strong and make it obvious that you like someone. Play it cool in the beginning. I don’t necessarily mean wait three days to text back or some other silly rule. Just try to figure out if he likes you too. Are you always the one to initiate chats and dates or is it a two-way street?

5.) Spanx to the max
So you’ve been asked out on a date. Congratulations! Now the only problem is deciding what to wear. Unless you’ve been born with perfect genetics or are extremely athletic you’re likely to have some body hang ups. Whatever else I’m wearing I always feel most confident when I have my Bridget Jones knickers on and confidence is extremely attractive. So go on, buy yourself a pair! You won’t have to suck in your stomach anymore!

6.) Be yourself
Who else would you be? When you’re on a date it can be tempting to come across as a better version of yourself by stifling your snort when you laugh or denying you have an unhealthy obsession with cats. It’s these little things however that make you who you are and if they’re enough to turn off your date then he isn’t worth your time in the first place. It might not seem like it but one day you’ll find someone who loves you for all of your little quirks and won’t run a mile when you tell him you have four cats.

7.) Never sext!
Dirty texts are fine (if you have a way with words) but it’s best not to send naked pictures of yourself, ever. There’s always the chance that you’ll accidentally add it to a group message, your boss sees it or it ends up going to the wrong recipient. It’s also best not to give anyone material with which they could potentially blackmail you in the future. Even snapchats can be screen shotted and remember that once something’s on the internet it will haunt you forever.

8.) Sexpectations
You’ve probably heard your granny say at some point that “men only want one thing” and sadly that can be true. Don’t feel pressured into jumping between the sheets if you don’t feel ready and never do it on the first date – no matter how hot he is. Physical intimacy is an important part of relationships but  someone who respects your boundaries and makes you feel comfortable is worth waiting for.

9.) Don’t argue over the bill
Being the modern woman that I am, I personally prefer to always pay my own way and split the bill. If however the guy fervently insists on picking up the tab I’m not going to kick up a fuss – it would be unseemly and ultimately quite awkward. Sometimes I think boys just like to pay to assert their masculinity. Either way, it’s up to you how you react but there are worse things than having someone buy you dinner.

10.) Don’t stop believing
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. You may have to wade through a sea of frogs and go on some downright ghastly dates till you find your Prince, but he’s out there, trust me. He may not ride a white horse but you’ll find him eventually. Don’t let bad experiences with the other sex knock your confidence or get you down.  There’s someone, somewhere waiting for you, and he’s wondering why you’re taking so bloody long to get there!