For many of us from the working class, the modern day workplace is filled with horror. From scrubbing toilets to call centres, I’ve done it all. But as I grew older I realised that I hadn’t fulfilled any of my dreams.
As a teenager, I dreamt of having my works of art grace gallery walls and be paid thousands for my emotional expressions on canvas. You can blame Tracey Emmet for that one, I saw her tent that someone paid thousands for and thought that being an artist would be great fun. When I wasn’t throwing paint at a wall, I wanted to write. Not anything really groundbreaking that would bring about world peace. But if someone had handed me a Nobel prize for literature I would not have said no.
Fifteen years ago these flights of fancy seemed like they could become a reality, I didn’t know how I would do it all, I just would. As time carried on I found myself forgetting about my dreams as my children appeared and they needed fed and a roof kept over their heads. My former partner said I was stupid for wanting to follow my dreams and to this day I still wonder why I ever listened to him. I took jobs I hated, a cleaner, telesales and shop assistant to name a few. I never seemed to stick at a job for very long as my mind always strayed back to what could have been.
As my thirties began fast approaching a feeling of horror set in. Here I was, dreaming about something that I never had, and why didn’t I just go for it? I had nothing to lose so I set out to start my artistic career. There was only one problem, no matter how good you are at something, unless you are slightly famous, nobody cares. There is even a sentence in The Writers and Artists Yearbook which says “your opinion (though extremely valid) will count for very little”. With so many celebrities in this society, how was I supposed to stand out from the crowd as someone with talent?
My friends had joked about what had worked for other famous people. The good old fashioned “home movie” was suggested by more than one person but I choose to decline that option. It became clear rather quickly that I was not going to receive fame and fortune overnight. Which leads me to where I am now, stuck in the modern day factory of the call centre selling insurance, wishing for a swift and quick death. Nobody enjoys it there. They have actually stopped people from going up on the roof after a few threatened to jump. And no, I have never watched “The Call Centre” on BBC, it’s bad enough I work in one forty hours a week, I don’t want to watch those as unfortunate as myself when I’m at home.
As I sit, chained to my desk, my mind wanders between calls. What if I got my big break? What if I got someone famous on the phone? In my mind, I sold them insurance and then had a short conversation. They gave me some advice and asked to see my work. Gone would be the days of slavery and verbal abuse down the phone! My worries would be over! Well, have you ever heard the expression “The world works in mysterious ways”? That is exactly what happened one day. As I rambled down the phone about what I was selling, the voice replied: “I’ll stop you right there, this is the Guardian newspaper you have phoned”. My master plan for success quickly went out the window as the reality hit me.
There I was on the phone with a national paper and I couldn’t say a word about who I really was. Calls were recorded and I simply couldn’t risk pitching myself in case they turned me down and I lost my job. In a moment of total stupidity, I mumbled about this being an awkward situation and how I wasn’t planning on speaking to them in these circumstances. As the call ended, I dropped my head on my desk in shame at my lack of wit which resulted in a small bump at my hairline. Woe was me! But it got me thinking, I had just made contact with the very people I wanted to talk to. It was not the ideal circumstances but this was real life, things never go to plan. Even chick flicks start off with awkward situations which result in the leading lady finding true happiness, so why can that principle not be applied to real life?
I doubt that the Guardian will give me a weekly column for me to witter on about whatever random thought pops into my head after a thirty-second pitch about insurance and an awkward one-sided conversation from me but it was worth a shot. Opportunity does not come often and when it does appear, no matter what form it appears in, we all have to grab it. Never allow someone to tell you that your dreams are stupid, it’s better to have given them a shot than to never have tried at all. As for me, I’m going to keep chasing my dream until I get it. The thing about dreams is that they never die and I refuse to look back when I am old and regret the things I didn’t do, I have plenty of things I have done that I will regret and I plan on making that list longer too.
Hopefully, I will sit back and remember writing this piece with fondness rather than embarrassment. Let’s face it, I’ve already made an idiot of myself down the phone….multiple times on a daily basis. What’s the worst that could happen? Hmmm, actually, I think I should get the ice pack at the ready just in case they tell me they don’t like me. If my head bopping off the desk the other day is anything to go by, I may prepare myself for a mild concussion.