Journey of Life

the place formerly known as control your destiny

Tag Archives: experience

A year of changes, decisions and a freezer incident!

It’s been a while!!

Since arriving back from my Christmas break in Denmark I have not really felt any desire to write or share anything on here (until now!).

I started to question why anyone would be even remotely interested in what goes through my mind and what happens in my life. Just for the record; this is not some desperate attempt at getting some validation or approval!

Before my Christmas break I thought that, once I’d get to the cottage in which we traditionally spend Christmas, I would have plenty of time to hunt for jobs online and send off applications but none of that happened. I spent the first week with my Dad (we always get there before everyone else to get stuff ready) which is always very relaxing. We both enjoy each other’s company and neither of us feel the need to keep a conversation going just for the sake of it. There were days when I spent a large amount of time just staring at the snow falling from the sky or staring at the fire.

I had so much time to do nothing and although I had planned this time for job hunting, for once, I did not feel guilty for not doing any job hunting whatsoever.

I also spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not it was time for me to move back to Denmark, something I have been thinking about for the past couple of years.

When I arrived back in the UK my best friend picked me up from the airport and on the way back I mentioned that I was thinking seriously about moving back. The prospect of coming back with no job to go back to (not that I would want to go back to that place again) didn’t exactly fill me with joy. More importantly, during the break I kept asking myself what was keeping me there and apart from my friend G, I couldn’t think of anything else. He told me that should I decide to go back he’d be sad to see me go but on the other hand he wouldn’t want to be the reason for me to stay.

I spent New Years eve with him and some other friends, which is a story for another day (or perhaps not!).

Waking up on the first working day of the New Year was rather odd. Knowing that everyone else would be rushing through traffic to get to work made me feel strangely restless and also me feel as if I too should be doing something constructive aka looking for a job, so I did. I signed up for various recruitment agencies, uploaded my CV and applied for pretty much any job that appealed to me regardless of salary.

This taught me a lesson in rejection! I have never had any problems finding work in my life but it seems that when one has worked in the same industry for a long time people tend to want to pigeon hole you. I got a lot of calls from recruitment agents who wanted to put me forward for jobs exactly like the one I had left and when I told them I no longer wanted to work in that capacity they lost interest.

When I started my previous job I made myself a promise that this would be my last job within the financial services industry and I have kept that promise.

After a few weeks I started to get bored with having nothing much to do so I signed up with a temping agency which was an experience in itself.

When I got there I was presented with an application pack to fill in which involved quite a lot of information including a couple of tests. Across from me was a guy from Poland who, with every minute passing, looked more and more frustrated and confused at the contents of the application pack. The French girl next to me didn’t have a much better time and had to look up pretty much every word in her dictionary. I sometimes wonder what happened to those two!

When I left the office, I felt a sense of relief and had a feeling that perhaps things would work out ok in the end. I don’t mind hard work and I don’t mind working odd hours either and I thought that along with my part time job at the college the hours from the agency would make it work. However, I never did work a single hour for the agency! A couple of weeks after my initial visit, G rang me and asked if I would pop into the college as he and his boss wanted to run an idea by me. I didn’t really know what to expect and went with an open mind to discover that they wanted to know if I would be prepared to work in the Kitchen cooking breakfast to free up the other chefs to concentrate on lunch and dinner. I have never worked in a kitchen before but I jumped at the chance and that is what I occupy most of my time with at the moment. When I got home the doubting part of me tried to convince me of all the things that could go wrong; cutting myself, burning myself etc, but so far I have managed to escape any of that.

That said, there was one unexpected hazard I did get to experience and trust me it wasn’t pleasant. There is a walk-in freezer in the kitchen, the size of a small bedroom, however it wasn’t working properly and while the engineer (who spends more time eating and drinking coffee than fixing things) tried to work out what to do I was trying to save some of the stuff. He realised he was in my way and said that he would let me get on, walked out and shut the door behind me.

LET ME OUT!!!

There is a fail safe button inside that you push and you can get back out again but I could not get it to work despite pushing and kicking it. This is when panic set in and I started kicking the door as hard as I could in the hope that someone would hear it. I have never considered myself to be claustrophobic but I since this incident I may have to reconsider my position on this one!! I should point out that while I was in there it was defrosting and the temperature was just about -1 as opposed to the usual -18. After a few minutes of door kicking and blind panic I realised I had my phone on me which brought a sense of relief until I took it out of my pocket and realised that I couldn’t get a signal which was then followed by more panic. So now I am frantically moving around this freezer in a desperate attempt to get a signal while at the same time wondering where in the flying f*@k the engineer had got to! When I finally got a signal and got let out my question about the engineer’s whereabouts were answered; He was merrily enjoying a cooked breakfast!!!

Apart from that and also having to get up at 5am every morning I am fully enjoying it. Despite this, I knew in my heart that going back to Denmark would be the right thing to do. It felt right and it made me smile but the enjoyment I felt from work started to make me question if going back really was the right decision. This was reinforced when G’s boss came into the kitchen one afternoon and asked if he could talk to me in private for a moment. At this point I had been making pizza dough for the evening meal and I suspect I looked fairly similar to the Swedish chef from the Muppet Show. As we left the kitchen he told me that we were going to meet with his boss and as we arrived at her office I explained the reason for my appearance to which she replied “is there anything you don’t do?’ and the only answer I could think of was “yes, banking!”

The reason for the meeting was that they wanted to understand if they could create a full time position for me earning the same as my previous job, would I be prepared to stay in the UK. This took me completely by surprise and it made me doubt even more if going back to Denmark really was the right decision. They talked me through what the job would entail and it really really was tempting to accept but after a week of weighing up everything I chose to decline their kind and generous offer and in less than 4 weeks I will be living and working in Copenhagen.

I am looking forward to the change and I am looking forward to being closer to my family but I am not looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone here. I have never been very good at saying goodbye which, I suspect, is why I have not arranged a leaving party. Then again it is not goodbye forever. I will come back for visits and I’d like to think that people would come to visit me too.

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People Watching

One of my favourite hobbies of all times is people watching. Ok! I have a minor full on addiction to people watching. There’s just something incredibly fascinating about it. In fact, if someone came to me and offered me a regular income (I am not asking for much!!) for doing nothing other than watching people and creating little stories about them, I think I would have just landed my dream job!

The best part of this particular hobby is that it doesn’t cost anything, unless of course you decide to travel to a specific location to do your people watching. I guess that is what train spotters do!! Or do they just gather at the same station every time??

One of my favourite places to watch people are places like airports, train stations (I am NOT a train spotter!!) or anywhere associated with travel as it brings big crowds together in one place. People from all walks of life and from all kinds of different cultures.

Also, travelling often seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. Some are excited at the prospect of going off to some exotic location or to be with a friend or relative while some are stressed and apprehensive or perhaps even frightened to a certain extent, but everyone has their own story to tell and the interesting thing is that most of the time they wouldn’t even have to say a word to tell their story. Simply observing their body language and their facial expressions is enough to build or create a story in my mind. If I was a writer I would spend the majority of my writing time in places like these because the inspiration seems endless.

It also makes me wonder how I would be perceived by someone performing the art of people watching. What kind of story do I inspire by my behaviour and body language? Am I the excited one or am I the stressed out fearful traveler? I am pretty confident that I have portrayed both types of behaviour as well as some in between. If it is a journey I am familiar with I am usually very relaxed about the whole affair despite often traveling by myself. If, however, it is unknown territory then I will often display rather selfish behaviour especially if I am in a rush to be in a certain place at a certain time.

When I headed back to Denmark for Christmas last december it became one of those journeys where things didn’t quite go to plan!

It was the 18th December and I had an early flight to catch. I left my house at 5 in the morning, headed in to town to catch the coach to Heathrow. It had started to snow at this point, which is never a good sign if you live in the UK. It usually takes no more than a few snow flakes to put the country into a state of chaos! However, the coach arrived only a few minutes late and we set off. I remember feeling pleased with my ingenious decision to get the early coach. This only lasted until about 15 minutes later when I had a text message from the airline informing me that my flight had been cancelled due to severe weather conditions at Heathrow! At this point I had no option but to continue so I decided that once I got there, I’d go to the check in desk for further information and to establish if I’d be able to get on a later flight. I was in good spirit and it had never crossed my mind that other people would be traveling that day too! That is until I got to the airport!!

As I arrived at the terminal and found the check in desk for my airline, I was greeted by a queue of people the length of which (at least in my mind) was at least three miles (I have a tendency to exaggerate things like this). The queue could help explain the difficulty I had in locating the check in desk! I also experienced some difficulty in finding the end of the queue as it was all over the place! For the next 90 minutes I was stuck in this queue, but the really frustrating part was the fact that I wasn’t entirely sure if I was in fact in the right queue and yet I felt reluctant to give up my place in it to investigate further in fear of having to go further back in the queue, so I stayed put (call me a sheep if you like).

During my time in the queue I was next to a girl but I was convinced that I was at least in front of her but I got the feeling she thought she was in front of me which then led to the weirdest battle in history! We both kept trying to maintain our space in the queue while at the same time trying to get one step ahead of one another. This bizarre battle went on for a while until she asked a couple behind us in the queue if they’d look after her luggage for a few minutes. I guess she didn’t ask me because she feared I might just leave her luggage behind just to increase my lead in the race to the check in!! A few minutes later she came back, collected her luggage and off she went. I was too busy gloating in my glory of firmly being one step ahead to wonder where she’d gone despite the fact that we’d been scheduled on the same flight!

I finally got to the point where the check in desk was in sight and within reach but much to my despair I discovered that another queue had formed for the ticket desk! I managed to catch the attention of someone who looked like he worked there hoping that he could shed some light on which queue I was meant to be in. He seemed to think I ought to be in the ticket queue but he didn’t exactly fill me with confidence and at the same time I felt even more reluctant to switch queues, as this would mean that I would now have to admit to  myself that, due to my sheepish behaviour, I had wasted 90 minutes in the wrong queue.

In the end I was told that I had to join the ticket queue, which luckily seemed a lot shorter but the problem was the fact that it didn’t seem to move at all. To add insult to injury, I was now stuck two places behind the exact same girl I had battled with in the first queue. In truth, I was feeling rather embarrassed at the selfish behaviour I had displayed earlier. Luckily she didn’t seem to hold a grudge and I soon got talking to her as well as another couple.

Another 90 minutes went by, during which time I had only moved a few feet and was beginning to lose all hope of getting back to Denmark before Christmas.

I went into observation mode again and began noticing how little groups of people were forming in the queue just like the four of us. I have always been intrigued by how easily strangers seem to bond in situations like these, I am including myself in this bonding affair! I find it fascinating that complete strangers can so easily find common ground to the extent that during the time in the queue the four of us got to know each other pretty well and also managed to help keep each other calm. We had known each other for only a short amount of time at this point and yet, as I am writing this, I can picture their faces clearly!
They finally announced that the plane had been reinstated and that we’d be taking off within the hour, which meant not having time to do anything other than racing through security and straight to the gate and with that, the bonding session was now firmly over! It was now back to every man and woman for themselves, with one exception; the swedish girl, who was now a bit ahead of me in the security queue (how did she get there so fast?) did very kindly ask if I wanted to join her in the queue. I declined on the basis that everyone had been through their fair share of queueing. I was also slightly concerned that had I accepted, I might have been lynched!!

When we finally got airborne the captain informed us that the reason for the cancellation and the chaos wasn’t the alleged severe weather, but the fact that I had foolishly chosen to fly to Copenhagen on the same day as Barack Obama was joining the climate conference in Copenhagen!!!

Free travel tip from J: Never travel on the same day as a government official, especially if it is the President of the United States!

I made it back though and it was such a wonderful break. I was also treated to a good look at Air Force One as we taxied to the gate…

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