A whole new world. And on entering into this journey, I’m reminded of the brightest of colours. Yellow.
Yellow. Yes it’s a colour or freshness, a colour of the Sunrise and a key element in the Sunset.
Yellow, A Journey of Hope.
The bridge between then and now had seen quite a number of mini-adventures, most of them ending up back where I started. All of them with their own merit and worth. To set the scene: after eluding the clutches of The SuperMarket in 2009, there were very little options open for me. In fact the more that I searched around for jobs – the more it became apparent that no-one was to employing anyone anymore. It was like being LOST on an island of unemployment. Ship-wrecked alongside thousands of other students, graduates and genuinely good people.
2009 (the end of)
There was something heart-breaking about handing over a CV, filling out an application form or emailing an employer for work. It felt like there was no way they were going to believe all the things that I had achieved in my previous job. I’d saved the world a many times, saved the store on several occasions – and I’d even restrained myself from knocking certain customers into kingdom-come. That’s quite a track-list of accomplishments, in my humble opinion. But emails would flood back saying that didn’t believe me or that there wasn’t room for such an adventurer within their small company. Whether or not what they claimed was true, it didn’t change that fact that I needed a job – but one thing kept me going. A shield of yellow.
One of the earliest uses of the word yellow in the English language can be found in the Old English Poem, Beowulf. In the story, a shield was constructed from a yew tree. With many likenesses to that poem, my quest to find employment relied heavily upon the yellow shield. A shield representing hope for the future, that there was an end to this battle. A shield of hope. a shield of faith. And it was this shield of faith that would keep my spirits high. Safe in the knowledge that every journey had a journey’s end and that every inhale had an exhale.
I could have never imagined the great giants of the marketplaces that awaited me on the island of unemployment – but I never did have a full picture of what awaited me on the journey to 2010. Unshaken by the prospects, I charged through the longest, deepest valleys alongside many of my closest friends as well as people I’d never met before. The convoy was strange because each and every person had a different beast to face and everyone had to do it themselves. Some faced black smoke, some faced wild boars – but my first battle took a different form. A con-artist masquerading as multinational company. All whit and wisdom couldn’t prepare me for the beast that lurked beneath the innocent appearance of a decent marketing company.
I did feel bad, on occasions, at the stories I told of my prior employer. But this company got no such contemplation. As I think back to the way they worked, much like the mythical beast – Medusa. The beast that could turn an onlooker to stone with a single gaze. Except this corporation of connery worked to sweet talk you until they had you in their talons, and as you can imagine, they had plenty of experience of achieving just that. Sadly, at this stage, I was oblivious to this.
I waltzed into the reception area which, to be fair, looked a little temperamental. It was an old building with seemingly modern furniture. I had background experience with this furniture – I’d been brought up with it! It was from a certain Swedish outlet that offered modern alternatives for reasonable prices. I wouldn’t call myself a detective, but you know something’s slightly wrong when a ‘multi-national’ company invites you to an interview and you are greeted with furniture that even I could afford on my pocket-money. This was clue one.
Clue two was came in the form of the receptionist. The receptionist is often considered the face of the company, so if this was the face of the beast I was facing, then I was not up against much. She was incredibly laid back and her approach towards work consisted primarily on her scrutiny over the music we were listening to in the waiting room. This was only supported by her superiors who would casually stole through the reception area with random bits of paperwork and comment on something they’d done the night before or the laugh’s they’d had at work already that day. The words try-hard sprung to mind and I was quickly likened to that fish that hides itself as a rock and then launches itself upon it’s unsuspecting victims in a flurry or hunger and desperation. From then on, it was difficult to not imagine the people working there as giant rock-fishes. Attractive.
After what seemed to be endless waiting (or quite possibly the perfect length of time to notice “what a fun environment this was to work in”), I was called into a converted lounge. I restrained myself from commenting on the ‘creative’ use of office-space and was asked the most useless set of questions. I half-expected the interviewer to rip off a mask and reveal Dom Jolly sitting at the desk. If this guy truly was the manager, then he had a lot to learn about managing a business.
It became clear that he really did and as the interview progressed, it became apparent he’d worked his way up to that position through the company and had sold himself to the company. “Work hard, and you can earn heaps.” In his own words.
I left that office confused and unsure of exactly what I was supposed to do with this experience. But there was little time to consider, as the manager called and offered me a second interview. A ‘practical’ interview. The next day. Ironically, I had plans the next day but he gave me no alternative and made sure I cancelled my plans. I should have suspected the job even further when he instructed me to bring “good walking shoes and a coat”. Understand that this was winter time. I had no idea I was to be battling the beast in Antarctic-style environments.
I parked my car along the sea-front, since I needed a long-stay parking space. Ironically, my classic orange Panda was being serviced – so I was driving a Panda that looked similar to a bowl of custard. I wouldn’t normally mention it, but since this story is titled yellow – it sort of made sense to add it in. As I turned up to the office, I was quickly ushered out the front door with a man I’d never met. Brilliant. You’ve got to love the professionalism of the place. He was to conduct my interview for the day. After a stroll to the train station (in what was the fastest walking I’d ever experienced in my life), we assembled with a larger group of people and were asked to pay for a train ticket. Not just any train ticket. A train ticket to timbucktoo, well, to a land I’d never heard of. I went along with the flow. But by the end of the train journey, it had become apparent. These people weren’t marketing managers or interviewers.
They were door-to-door salesmen. I had landed myself in the belly of the beast.
I had also made up my mind that this was not a job I was going to accept. I worked tirelessly week after week, month after month in a Supermarket. Serving customers and helping people connect with their vegetables. I was not about to go into the customers world and help them even more. This was one step too far. The beast’s representative took me away from the pack of “doorers” and we started our own map. On our travels, he started the brainwashing technique that had so clearly worked on him many years ago. But unknown to him, I was holding up my yellow shield to his fiery breath and the flames were falling to the ground. His name was Fafnir. Fafnir ploughed through the houses in the estate, spreading the false-love and false-help to the unsuspecting customers who were just getting through the day.
The final straw came when he preyed upon an old couple. Fafnir, on this occasion, was offering cheaper calls and broadband through a provider who (shall remain nameless for obvious reasons) was dangerous and had a bad reputation for conning their customers. Convenient that this self titled ‘multi-national’ dealt in the same circles as these other criminals. As we were invited in, I asked to be excused and use the toilet. As Fafnir worked his manipulation upon the old couple, I drew my sword and shield and stepped into the room. None of the people in the room could see these weapons, all they saw was the discerned look in my eye. Fafnir had no idea what he had just done as handed a contract over to the old couple to sign.
I ripped it from his hands and acted like a chav on an interview would. It seemed like the best approach. I would suddenly become a defender of the customer. The helper of the consumer. Something I never would have imagined from the Supermarket days.
“What’s this then? I missed all this while I was in the bog.” I sat myself on the nearest chair.
Fafnir was shocked at my change in character and was unsure how to respond. He pulled the contract from me and gave it to the couple.
“Nothing,” He continued, “We were just completing the contract.”
“For what? I can find you cheaper and more reliable broadband than that!” I exclaimed in my chavviest voice possible.
I leaned over to the elderly lady and whispered. “This man is trying to con you. Chuck us out now..”
The old lady seemed a tad bit confused. I can’t blame her. The change in my temperament had taken me by surprise too.
We found ourselves outside and alone on a housing estate at mid day. Fafnir, a bulky fellow, took a deep breath and tried his most manipulating snort yet. He continued, using clever manipulation techniques that fit nicely into the category – “the employment climate is fierce” along with “you won’t find any other job”. I was clearly faced with a decision. It was in that moment I reflected on all great stories and how, the only way to kill a dragon was to reach its heart. I needed to destroy Fafnir but more importantly, I’d have to hope that I’d get a shot at the ‘company’ director. From then I battled Fafnir with words. We debated whilst door-knocking, and as soon as any opportunity for sales arose – I would shoot it down. I was not going to let him manipulate the good people of the random town we were in. Midday turned to day-end and it was late before we reached office where they were based. But all the chatting in the world wouldn’t have prepared me for the office I was about to walk into.
I was called into the managers office. I was offered the job. Immediately, I noticed Fafnir wasn’t there. He had gone. Whether he’d been killed by the manager or whether he’d fled, I didn’t know. But I knew one thing for sure, I needed to take down this company. The managers name was Samael. He worked hard to convince me to take the job, but the yellow shield protected me as I explained that work wasn’t everything to me. At that moment he erupted with fury. “Work isn’t everything? Then What was today? A waste of our time?” I just smirked. That always slays bosses.
I paused to calm myself. I drew my sword of wisdom and rested it against his bright-red face. “A waste of your time? I had plans for today – which I cancelled today under the impression that I would be interviewed by a legitimate and decent marketing firm. I did that only to find out what a scam of a company you truely are. And so I strike you where it hurts. I’m going to trading standards.”
He roared and revealed his true-self, a hideous fire-breathing beast. He swung his tail towards me and I dodged it and did what every adventurer would do. Go for the thing that dragons love the most. Gold. I ran for his wallet and threw it through the lounge/office window. It fell to the streetlight-lit pavement below and he dived after it. As the yellow glow from the lamp-posts touched his scaly skin – he turned back to his annoying self. No-one would know any better.
I don’t remember exactly what happened from there. I remember leaving and I remember people leaving with me. And I remember writing to trading standards about Samael and Fafnir. But it turned out they’d emigrated long before they could be defeated. But I felt like I’d served the greater community by preventing them from doing their evil work in our surrounding towns and cities, for now at least. They may one day return, but I’d be ready for them.
But after everything that had happened, something even more exciting happened. There are no real words to describe what took place next, but I will try and paraphrase.
The sun was setting over to the West, over the city and the sea. As I reached my car on the seafront, I felt compelled to walk towards the sea. And as I looked out over the waters I saw ripples, tainted with a lush yellow glow from the sun’s reflections. I saw the colour of hope in the sunset. Then I knew, that even though days come to an end – there is still hope in every ending. If we’ll allow there to be, there is also an opportunity for us to trust that there is a brighter day ahead of us.
I heard the comforting voice that I’d heard on my last day at the Supermarket, only this time came the words
“Look up, don’t wait for the job to be painted for you. Paint the colours of the job you want to be in.”
I smiled and looked into the distant sunset. “Hang on lads, I’ve got an idea.”
To be continued.