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What I Did For A Living

I worked full time for twelve years, before I gave up work to be a full time wife and mother.  Now that the kids are growing up, I've gone back to writing.  I did write and was published in the past.  I often did several things at a time.

Once, when I worked in an office job, I found myself beset by financial problems.  I had a lot of unpaid tax to pay back.  I worked in an office where the employer was not required to look after the tax matters of the employees.  In Ireland, we have a PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system, at least they did in my time, twenty years ago.  People used to moan about PAYE, but they would have been even more upset if their tax was like mine.  There was no category for me only as self-employed and as I had very few tax free allowances, my tax rate was actually higher than that of a PAYE worker.  I avoided dealing with tax matters for a while which resulted in a huge bill.  So I had to think of a solution. 

I went to the tax office to sort out the problem and being single and living with my mother, I decided to bite the bullet and pay a huge amount back per month.  The amount just about left me with bus fare and lunch money after I'd paid my mother my keep.  But everyone needs cash flow, so there was only one solution.  Get a second job.  I, along with Phil, a girl I worked with (not her real name, names changed to protect the guilty), used to go to a coffee shop for a chat in the evenings after work.  We got along great with the manager, Gerry.  Phil plucked up the courage to ask him if he needed a bit of help in the evenings.  He did, as his full time staff liked to get off at six o'clock.  So Phil negotiated a rate with him and started working in the coffee shop after office hours.  As Gerry was happy with the arrangement, Phil realized an extra helping hand would be needed so I asked Gerry for a job and got one too.  Then Annie, the office cleaning lady, decided that she'd like to get in on the act as well.  She was from the opposite side of the city and found that it would profit her greatly if she could work the lunchtime shift and come into our office afterwards.  So we three staff found ourselves running an office by day and a coffee shop/delicatessen at night.

One evening, Annie had to do the evening shift in the coffee shop with me as Phil was off sick, as eight o'clock, the closing time approached, the time seemed to drag on interminably.  Suddenly, Annie got a great idea.  She decided to close the door to prevent new customers from coming in.  Then, to make the restaurant even more unwelcoming, we dimmed the lights to a very low level to make the existing customers get out fast.  The minute they stood up, we whipped away their plates and cleaned up the table.  Soon we would be free to run home.

The doorbell sounded and we saw a regular customer standing outside.  His name was Dave and he was a  young, single man who had a government job and lived in the nearby flatland.  He usually came in for a cup of tea every evening.  We'd missed him today for some reason.  Dashing Dave was not pleased at all.

"Closing early? Special occasion?"  he asked. "It's nearly closing time.  Ten minutes to eight," we replied.  He tapped his wristwatch (people still wore them back then) and showed us it was, in fact, ten to seven.  An hour earlier!  To our horror, we were forced to put the lights back on at full glare and to open the door.  Which was just as well as Gerry came around shortly afterwards "just to make sure everything was all right."  So we really had to thank Dashing Dave for his interference.  Not that we felt like that at the time!

Years later, I'm in India bringing up my kids.  But I've had some work experiences here too.

When my youngest son started school here, I took him to the local nursery school which has been open forever.  The principal ma'am of the school asked me to join as a teacher, as she thought I'd be great at teaching English to the kids.  I discussed the matter with my husband and mother-in-law and decided to give it a try.

A few day after joining the school, I was handed a printed sheet.  "What's this?" I asked.  It was, I was told, the words of an English song which Principal Ma'am wanted me to teach the children.  I took a look at the words.  "You're my doll, rock n' roll, touch me here, touch me there."  You can't be serious!" I said, in horror.  "This is disgusting."  "But that's only the Barbie doll song", replied Principal Ma'am.  "That song has sexual undertones.  And overtones," I replied.  "I wouldn't teach this to children."

Ma'am replied that she'd been a guest at a function presented by one of the premier Catholic schools of our city, run by 'fathers' (meaning priests). The children, she claimed, had all danced to that song and the 'father' (the priest principal) had enjoyed the show immensely.  "I'll bet he did," I replied.  When she asked what I meant,  I reiterated that I was not prepared to teach that song to young children at any cost, whether or not the father had approved of it.  So she had to accept that.  

Some people are very possessive of their work places. Not to mention materials.  The teacher  I'd replaced in the nursery class (on the grounds that I spoke better English)  was constantly walking in to my classroom on some pretext or another, despite the fact that she was teaching upper nursery.  One day, I had to teach a lesson on the English alphabet so I showed the kids some cards I'd been given on which each letter and a picture related to the same, was prominently displayed.    The kids showed great interest and begged to be allowed to hold and touch the cards, so I agreed.  The old nursery ma'am came in and had a meltdown right in front of me.  "Ma'am," she cried.  "What are you thinking?  You are letting the children spoil the cards!"  I had to calm her down.  I explained that the children were interested in the lesson and when they expressed interest in touching the cards, I had thought it was better to allow them to.  Besides, they weren't spoiling the cards, they were quite well behaved.  For once they weren't fighting with each other and pulling each other's hair.

She burst into tears. "I spent hours drawing and colouring those cards," she sobbed.  "If the children are allowed to handle them, they'll soon be ruined."  I suggested that it might be a good idea to get the cards laminated, which would make them easier to handle and less likely to spoil.  That wasn't acceptable, however. I hadn't put in the hours she had, colouring, drawing etc.  Nor would I.  Why couldn't the school just buy some decent materials, I wondered.  The payment was far too low to tolerate this sort of hassle.  I'd had enough.

So, at the end of the term, I took my child to join the big school and handed in my notice.  Teaching was not for me, or so it seemed.

During my working life, I was a secretary in an Embassy, a receptionist in a clinic, an invoice typist in a freight company and I even worked as a cleaning lady once. And as a nurse's aide.  No doubt about it, I've had a varied career.  If  you could call it that.

This is my weekly post for the LOOSE BLOGGERS CONSORTIUM.  We are an international group of bloggers, from Ireland, the UK, the USA, China and India and we post on a single topic every week unless one of us has some sort of issue which prevents us from posting.  We are, in alphabetical order, Delirious,  Grannymar,   MaxiMariaSF,  Padmum,  Paul,Ramana,  RohitShackmanThe Old Fossil and Will. This topic was suggested by THE OLD FOSSIL.   If you like this post, go and visit my friends too and check out their take on this fascinating topic!


  1. A varied and interesting work history - I bet we've all done many things. I neglected to mention my fast-food jobs - LOL - the most common starters over here I suspect. Keep on weriting - you're good at it.

  2. Oh, thanks Shackman. Lovely to see you over here! :)

  3. Sounds like Dashing Dave arrived just at the right time!

  4. Dashing Dave to the rescue!

    Good for you standing your ground about the song! You certainly have had an interesting and varied career :-) x

  5. You absolutely had the right idea about teaching the children Maria. They learn from talk, touch and feel … being involved.

    Not only that, you made it all about them. The other teacher was concerned in what she had done.

    blessings ~ maxi

  6. Maria--you made me laugh and whew! what a lot of punch in terms of experience you have packed in. Go for that book girl! You can do it...then we can call you 'our author blog-pal'!

  7. Hi Grannyar - yes he did! We'd have been in big trouble if he hadn't!

  8. Hi Teresa,

    Well I've never had a chance to get bored, that's for sure.

  9. Maxi, I always go by my instincts and my instincts told me I was right. Thanks for endorsing me.

    Bless you!

  10. Hi Padmini - thank you so much. Life is full of stories - well, mine is, anyway!

  11. Tell us more about the non working stories Maria. You know, the juicy adventures that you had. Did you ever experience harrassment?

  12. If I spill the beans, Rummuser, there'll be a few reputations ruined. And none of them will be mine. I'm planning to do a big expose one fine day. For the right price, of course.

  13. That was a lovely post to read. You have done some interesting things in your life.
    Dashing Dave saved the day and I'm so glad that you stood up to the teacher who wanted you to teach the children a completely inappropriate song.
    As for the teacher and those cards, she should have let you laminate them. Obviously she was letting pride get in the way at the expense of the children's interest.
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  14. Delightful! I was totally mesmerized by the nursery school adventure. There must be a universal older teacher or librarian who wants to holds the supplies and books out of the hands of students.

  15. Just popping in to make contact again!

    Lovely post Maria. Looking forward to more xxx

  16. Thank you Maggie May. I supposes it must have looked as if my friend and I were trying to pull the wool over the boss's eyes. In fact, we were both dead tired and really thought it was later than it was. From a coffee shop to a nursery school and back, it's been quite a journey.

  17. Hi Maria SF,

    You're an expert on teaching having taught school for many years while I merely stuck my toe in the water, having done it for just six months. Evidently, this behaviour on the part of the other teacher is commoner than I thought.

  18. Hi Ayak, great to see you over here after a long time. Thanks for reading my post. Good luck with your new TAG blog.

  19. Ummm ... I do hope your ma'am got the jist of what you were objecting to! Teaching is always quite the adventure, but that's an adventure you can do without.

  20. Thanks OF. It's a bit of a pain all right.

  21. That was so funny that you tried to close shop early. Good thing Dashing Dave saved the day!

    (Thanks for stopping by to visit Kamy on my blog!)

  22. Hi Sherry, nice to see you over here!


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