Does it really come down to this? Nearly sixteen years of schooling and teachers doing their utmost not only to teach me how to count, read and spell properly, but also giving me all the advice that they can, especially in the last few months, about what I`ve learnt over this time and what sort of job that it would lead to. I`ll ignore what Mr Farley, my Maths teacher, when he said that with the little that I`ve learnt over the years I`d be lucky to get a job anywhere. I`ll listen to him not only when he can be bothered to get some sort of decent haircut, but also when he can wear an ironed shirt to class the scruffy git.
Anyway, today is the day that the local careers officer pays their annual visit to our school and take over our headmaster`s office. I was the last one to go in from our class. Wasn`t nervous our anything. Well, why should I be? What`s the worst that can happened? It`s not as if they can give me a detention or anything. Unlike Mr Farley. That`s the third one this month from that slob. No, they`re only here to offer advice and practical solutions to any ideas that I may have in the line of work. By the way, I haven’t just yet. Well, not serious ones. Maybe one will come to me as I continue waiting.
The door then opens, and little Martin Griffiths appears wearing an expression like he had been thrown around the office by a twenty-stone wrestler. “Your next” he says as he couldn`t getaway quick enough.
He always did scare easily, something to do with how small he was I always thought anyway. Surely there couldn`t be anything that bad in there as I went in and closed the door behind me. How wrong was I. As sat behind our headmaster`s desk, was that very wrestler that I thought had just mauled poor little Martin. Well, maybe she was in her spare time as she certainly did have the build for it.
She didn`t say anything at first, she just used her finger and beckoned me to sit down at the desk in front of her. And I wasn`t going to argue. So, cautiously, I took my seat as she just kept making notes and still not saying anything just yet as I just continued to sit there quietly not really wanting to be here right now.
She then finished whatever it was that she was writing and looked up at me. Peering over her half-moon glasses, not really impressed by what she was seeing. I quickly checked over my shoulder just in case someone had sneaked in behind me that she didn`t like. But no, it was me.
“So, you`re Lee Washington then?” she asks checking her list, and sounding like the barrister for the Prosecution. It was strange. As I sat and looked at her, not exactly sure why, but I got the distinct feeling that she needed cheering up, which would be no major surprise after listening to us lot with no clue what to do in the future all morning probably, as I just nodded my head in reply as she goes on to ask me.
“Very well Lee. I`m here today to see what advice on any career that you may in mind for yourself. So, is there any job in particular that you have in mind when you leave school?”
Right, let`s see if my theory is correct about her needing cheering up. “Well, I do have one idea for a job that I`ve been thinking about for a while.”
“Oh really, and what`s that then?”
Well, would have got a bigger laugh if I had served a Pork Roast at a Jewish Wedding as it all felt distinctly awkward as we sat silently as she continue peering over her glasses with no intention of seeing the funny side. Not showing even the merest hint of a smile. Not today.
“I don`t believe that I could find you much information about that sort of work. Not much call for them around here” she says with a definite degree of angry sarcasm.
Well she`s not much of a Careers Officer is she. I thought to myself and I had to restrain myself from saying something along those lines as well.
“Why don`t you try and think of something else this time. And I strongly suggest that you think of a more serious occupation this time.”
She quite clearly meant that, so I`d better follow that advice and come up with something more serious. And I don`t think that I could get more serious than this. “I know, I think that I`d like to be; an Undertaker.”
Naturally, and somewhat understandably, she was very suspicious of what I had just said as she leans across the desk and looks straight at me and asks.
“Are you serious?”
Feeling like she`d thrown down the gauntlet; I had to pick it up, as I also leaned across the desk and answered.
If she didn`t beforehand, she seriously had a sense-of-humour failure. So much so that I could physically see the stitching on the sleeves of her jacket struggle to keep in her bugling-biceps as I just hope now that she doesn`t start to turn green.
Best kept quiet for a moment. Give her a chance to calm down a touch. Don`t think it worked though as she suddenly developed an evil glint in her eye as she then reached down into her briefcase and produced a folder with the heading Careers Within the British Armed Forces. Christ, I really have annoyed her. So much so that she wants to send me off to a foreign country, or even get killed.
“I know what I think would suit you. A career in the Armed Forces. Yes, I think that would suit you down-to-the-ground. Tell me, have you ever considered a career in the Armed Forces?” I couldn`t tell a lie.
“Well, maybe it`s about time you did. How about a career in the Royal Navy?”
“I`d be no good there, get sea-sick.”
“How about Royal Air Force?”
“No good there either, get air-sick”
She deliberately pauses before she asks her next question. “Very well, do you have any form of sickness that may prevent you from joining the Army?”
“Not sure. Would allergies count?”
“Allergies? Well maybe. What exactly are you allergic to?”
“Getting shot at.”
Was the last thing that I said to her as I leapt out of my chair and got out of that office before I found out at first-hand whether or not she would turn green and start tearing me and the office apart and as I kept running down the corridor; couldn`t help but think to myself that I`ll be alright. I had no need for a Careers Officer as my Uncle Freddie always said he could get me a job at the local Tesco's.