Before The Calm Came The Storm

When we arrived back in Caterham I didn’t bother unpacking my stuff as I knew we wouldn’t be there for long with the house on the market. My Dad and Step-Mum were absolutely livid about that because when he sold his childhood home in order to give my Mum half the money in the divorce settlement, it was on the understanding that she bought somewhere so I would always have somewhere to live. When I got back from Manchester she told me that she was only looking for a place for her to live and not for both of us, which of course pissed off my other parents even more when I told them. Part of me wished I’d stayed in Manchester and never came back. I told her that it wasn’t just their arguing that drove me away; I came home to help her as I thought she may have needed it after a big operation like that. She told me Franky and Jennifer have been helping her for the last six weeks, plus she can cope by herself. So not only did I now have to find a job but I also had to try and find somewhere to live. She said I could stay there until the house was sold but she didn’t know how long it would take; could be a week, could be a few months, could be a year. I should have been upset by the whole situation but for some reason I wasn’t. Perhaps it was the “happy pills” I was taking or I just didn’t care anymore. I gave myself a week to get settled back in to a routine and contact the job centre etc. before knuckling down to look for a job. Finding somewhere to live was the last thing on my mind at that time because if I wasn’t earning money, how could I afford to live somewhere? At first I was turned down for Job Seekers Allowance because of the circumstances of leaving my last job, I had left voluntarily with no other means of employment. Technically, I had left to travel and had come back to look after my sick mother, which is what I contested on my letter back to them to disagree with their decision. I was then awarded it, which they backdated to my first application so although we shouldn’t have, my Aunt Jennifer and I went on a good night out with it. It was just before Christmas, a couple of months since being back, when I saw an advert for a Warehouse Person/Administrator in Merstham. I sent my CV to them on the off chance as there was a couple of required key skills I didn’t have, but I thought I would take a gamble. I applied for loads of jobs in those couple of months I was out of work and had an interview almost every week. The last one I went for was for a similar sounding job next door to another job I had once before. Although I did an excellent interview, had all the relevant skills and experience required, I wasn’t what they were looking for. I wonder if it had something to do with their entire warehouse team being male…Anyway, a couple of days after sending my CV to a company called NSI they called me up and did a phone interview. The guy I spoke to, Andy, was pretty cool to talk to and it didn’t feel like I was doing an interview. They called me in for an actual one the following day. I arrived for my interview at Patrol Store in good time, early in fact, which pleased them. I remember it very well, I had to do the usual interview stuff but Andy also made me sit at the computer and type up a letter he recited to test my skills. Something he never made anyone else do apparently, so Aran told me. I didn’t feel nervous at all in the interview, even when they left the room to “talk about me” Andy said. When the door opened it was just Andy that came back in, Aran had to go back to the office but he told me the usual “we have other people to interview, but we’ll let you know” line. I thanked him and left to go back to the train station. I went there with no expectations and just kept telling myself on the way there that there was no point worrying about it, if they like me then great, if not then it’s their loss. I had only just gotten back to the train station in Merstham, which was ten minutes’ walk away from NSI, when my phone started ringing. It was Andy. I answered it thinking he was going to say I had left something behind, I wasn’t expecting him to tell me that they’re not going to bother with anymore interviews as they’ve found who they were looking for. A huge smile filled my face when I sat down on the cold bench to wait for the train back to Purley. I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat all the way home; people must have thought I was mad. I couldn’t wait to get to the job centre to give them my declaration to tell them I had a new job. I started their January 8th 2009, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Aran took me round to introduce me to everyone in the company. Everybody was very welcoming and friendly. I met Geoff, who is CEO of NSI, and he told me if there was anything I needed, inside or outside of work, then his door was open. I never forgot that and there were a few times I used it too. I got on really well with everyone and made friends with a lass called Charlotte who was a lot younger than me but a good laugh. She lived in Caterham as well and used to give me a lift to and from work. I offered her petrol money but she refused it. Sadly she wasn’t hitting her targets so they decided to let her go, meaning I had to find other means of getting to work. I had already worked that out before starting anyway when I went for my interview so it wasn’t a problem. Charlotte and I are still good friends, she still boasts about auditioning for the X-Factor behind John and Edward Grimes, better known as Jedward, although it’s not something I’d openly boast about. They do look half normal in her pictures on Facebook at their audition though and the comment by the other lady in the picture saying they will be huge, well, she wasn’t wrong there…unfortunately. Charlotte and her friend Andrea were never on the telly, but sadly we all know those terrible twins were and what they went on to become. I got the train for a little while, and although it was quicker, it was proving to be quite expensive. So I opted for the slower, cheaper and less reliable bus service. I got the 540 from Caterham, the driver was really nice and we had good conversations on the way to Merstham. The first time I walked down from School Hill seemed to take forever, not only that but it was freezing cold. The early days with Patrol Store were some really good times. I couldn’t get over how I clicked with everyone straight away and felt comfortable. Even outside of work we would occasionally get together and socialise. Vodka nights round Andy’s were a lot of fun, as were the ones round Di’s. I was doing warehouse work again, which I enjoyed doing, but my back was starting to play me up again. At first I thought nothing of it so just carried on with the heavy lifting etc., slowly making things worse for myself.

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