March 8, 2013

A SLIGHT WOBBLE AND A STORY

I did have a slight wobble just before I handed in my resignation at work, wondering if it was the right thing to do.  But it was only a brief one and I had made up my mind.

Pauline commented that I would miss my colleagues but not the daily commute and that is true.  The first person at work that I told of my decision was a lady I am very fond of.  She joined the company sixteen years ago and whilst I never see her outside of work, the days that we work together are much nicer than the days when she is not in and I will miss her. 

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Coffee time in the village square in Le Grand-Pressigny.

I knew that once that letter was in the hands of my boss there would be no turning back and in fact plans to replace me are well under way already, as they need to be to provide continuity in the company.  That’s it, my working life is coming to an end.

My job involves dealing with the general public and that is something that on the whole I will not miss at all.  In these days of political correctness I sometimes have to bite my tongue when people are really rude, ignorant and bad mannered.  I’m not very good at that and have nearly got into hot water a few times by opening my mouth and speaking my mind.  I don’t see why anyone should have to take rudeness from the general public but it’s just what you have to do to stay in a job sometimes.  To be fair, it doesn’t happen all that often but it’s definitely on the increase and one incident which occurred last year upset me a lot and that was the first time I thought I don’t love my job any more.

So there are some people I have to deal with that I will be very happy never to see again but yesterday I was reminded of one of the reasons why mostly I have loved my job.  It’s the stories people tell.

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Spring flowers in the park at Descartes.

A lady of 84 came in yesterday afternoon, let’s call her Mavis.  She comes from tough mining stock.  There are no mines in the area any more but there are lots of Mavis’s.  Sturdy, craggy-faced women whose hands are rough and grey from years of looking after their husbands and large families, keeping the coal fire going and stacking it by hand with the free coal allowance they still get even though their husbands died years ago.

As she was about to leave she said she was looking forward to her favourite grandson coming to see her.  She had to get back to stoke up the fire, it was such a miserable and grey day.  She added that she had brought him up after his mother’s accident and he’s forty now.

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The château at Le Grand-Pressigny.

I said something like, oh dear, was it a road accident?  Well it was, in a way.  When the lad was a baby Mavis was pushing him along the road in his pushchair with her daughter-in-law walking by her side when a car came round the bend too fast and hit them.  Mavis was slightly injured but the car knocked the young woman down and ran over her. The baby was unhurt but the car drove off without stopping.

I looked at Mavis in total amazement.  You never get over something like that and she had tears in her eyes.  I found it hard to believe that I had known this woman for nearly thirty years and never knew that about her. 

The driver was caught because a witness took a note of the registration number and he was banned for driving for eighteen months and fined £78.  I don’t know what that would be in today’s money, being as this happened forty years ago, but even if it was ten times as much it seems such an insignificant punishment for causing the young mother’s death – another cruel blow for Mavis and her family - having lost the daughter-in-law that she said she “worshipped” to then find that her life was worth so little.  Mavis said that when they saw him in court he couldn’t even be bothered to wear clean clothes and have a shave.

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The square in Chinon.

When I looked at my computer later in the day there was a news snippet on my home page with the title “man gets jail for laughing too loud in his own home.”  I didn’t want to read any further.  What a crazy world we live in. 

One of the very few things I will miss when I give up work is the stories, the sometimes funny, sometimes moving and often amazing stories that ordinary people have to tell about their lives.

Bon weekend !!

8 comments:

  1. I don't think it would be normal not to have a wobble Jean. But just think of all those untold stories yet to be heard!

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  2. I always feel sorry for people who have life 'overtake' them like that. I know that very often they say they have come to terms with it, but I always think of what might have been and the wasted potential, both of the young woman who was killed, and of the older woman who had her life 'sidetracked'.

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    1. Susan, hearing about other people's trials and tribulations can be very humbling.
      Their funny stories can be very uplifting too.

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  3. Jean, I think your departure from work will affect more people than you realise. The people who tell you their stories will miss the listening ear you so willingly gave. Plans may well be under way to replace you but they will be very lucky to find someone with your qualities.

    Look forward to the future with relish. You've done the right thing and we are all looking forward to seeing more of you in France. XX

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  4. That is a very sad story and I cannot believe that the fine was so small even in those days. As for losing his licence he should have spent the time in jail! Hit and run is one of the most serious of road accidents.

    That besides, I am sure once you get used to retirement you will never look back. There is never enough hours in the day :-) Take care and have great weekend. Diane

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  5. Hi Jean,

    You've made the right decision. You'll meet many more people with stories to tell - but hopefully not such sad ones. She's probably of the generation that just 'got on with life', but that takes its toll.

    You'll no doubt be replaced with a young wizz kid with fewer interpersonal skills. Think about Joni Mitchell and that Big Yellow Taxi.... "you don't know what you've got 'till its gone".

    Bon weekend!

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  6. PS Of course I mean that it's your employers who "won't know what they've got..."

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  7. I wish you many more stories in your life... without the "misery" of work!

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