These days, qualifications are worth more than experience in the job market, and if I were to be looking for work, as well as my age being against me, I wouldn’t stand a chance.
When I left school at 16 in 1972, I had the choice of jobs and opted for one working in an office rather than in a shop.
The pay for both was around £750 a year (no, I haven’t missed off an 0, this was the seventies), but my bring home pay worked out at less than £60 a month after taxes.
However, by the time I’d taken into account my keep to Mum (a third), bus fares and lunches, and trying to save a bit, working in the shop would have left me with very little, whereas I could walk to the office and they had a subsidised canteen (though most days I ended up taking sandwiches).
The opportunity arose for a banking position some fifteen months later. I was offered the job on the spot and started a month later after giving the necessary notice. I worked hard towards a cashier’s position, and got my promotion shortly after my 18th birthday.
I worked for the High Street Bank in various branches for almost 6 years, until a clash of personalities in my final branch with an idle First Teller and no back up from the Manager.
My mother in law had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and it had been agreed that when the inevitable phone call came, I would be able to ‘go’ immediately.
It didn’t work out like that, and there was over two hours between the call and leaving thanks to this teller who was not prepared to relieve me until after he’d finished his lunch (and he took longer than his allotted hour).
The final crunch came a month later when he and the reserve cashier had differences and rather than let me catch up with the backlog of my other work, he insisted I help him find his difference and the guy who was going to help me with the backlog help the other cashier find hers. It would have made more sense for the two to help each other!
I was accused of being unco-operative and lazy, and the following day handed in my notice, even though I didn’t have a job to go to.
The day after I left, the bastard tried to palm a £50 shortage on me and I had the Manager on the phone. It was said that I had served a particular customer and not given him the £50 in coin he’d asked for. I knew I had served him the day before, but definitely not on my final day. I explained all this but he was convinced I was at fault.
Those were the days when everything was handwritten on balance sheets, not on a computer, and the paper back up showed that my accuser had served this gentleman.
He denied it, saying he had been busy (!) and given me the money to give to him instead.
I was furious, and pointed out to the Manager that he had checked my till HIMSELF when I handed over my keys, and I had been right to the penny as I had been every single day I had worked at his branch. If the cash exchange was showing on the First Teller’s sheet, then he had served the customer and made the error, not me, and I slammed down the phone.
In all the time I had worked for this bank, I had only had one cash difference, and that was for a pound. Bank Inspectors, who would turn up unannounced and check everything over a couple of weeks, had commented that mistakes happen and it was acceptable for cashiers to have two or three differences a year. I had one in six, and prided myself on it.
I actually secured a temporary position with another bank and was there for eighteen months. Ironically, I knew most of the customers already as I had served them in my training branch when I started in 1973.
After that, I went back into office work, to a position advised to me by a school ‘friend’.
You can read about our ‘friendship’ here.
I was promoted after a year, and did a bit of moonlighting as a favour to my boss after moving away in October 1981 following my divorce. When my previous colleagues heard I was back for a week, I suddenly had a list of problems to correct, and enjoyed my ‘visit’ enormously.
To be continued…………………………………..