This one is more than just a little indicative of how I struggled as a teenager. Low confidence issues meant that this job was one that there was just no way I was going to take.
But how did it come about? Well, it was during the summer between my first and second years at University. For the summer before my first year I had worked in a local, wait for it… cottage cheese factory. So, this time I fancied a change. One of Mum’s friends worked for the local council in the waste disposal department. So, she arranged an interview for me – as a bin man. I quite fancied this job, so I was happy to turn up for the interview.
What I was offered when I got there was something just a little different. What they actually wanted was for me to operate as a street sweeper and picker-upper of rubbish off the streets.
As I look back on the debacle now, I am more than a little regretful. My decision to say no thanks and walk out was the wrong one. What benefit would it have given me? Well, it would have made me a stronger, tougher person; that much is undeniable. Dealing with the general public on a day-to-day basis in such a role would have made elevated my self-confidence to a level which may have had changed my whole life. Plus, imagine some of the stories which which I could have regaled my mates both immediately afterwards and ever since.
But I turned the opportunity down and got a job at last year’s factory, this time dealing with Munch Bunch yogurts. Confidence remained unchanged and another chance to push myself out of my comfort zone voluntarily had gone.
This was my George McFly moment. Now if you are familiar with the film Back to the Future, you will know exactly what I mean. If not, then a short explanation is required.
Young Marty McFly is sent back in time in the time machine (a De Lorean car) by his friend and mentor, one Doc Emmet Brown. As luck would have it, he goes back to the fifties, at around the time that his parents were getting together. Of course things happen that put their liaison in jeopardy, not least his mother Lorraine’s infatuation with him instead of his father (George).
This has the knock on effect of putting Marty and his siblings’ very existence at risk, so Marty’s energies are channelled into ensuring that his parents do indeed hit it off with each other. Local heavy / thug / bully Biff Tannen has other ideas – he too would like Lorraine as his girl. Anyway, as things pan out, George does indeed get his girl, by way of a swinging right hook on Biff. Marty’s existence is guaranteed and he is able to travel back to the future.
So, my George McFly moment, although not involving a girl, did see me take a swinging right hook at a lad who had persecuted me during my early days at secondary school. Unfortunately for me, I missed and people’s impression of me continued as it was. Of course it is easy to look back and say that if I had connected that I would have been feted as a hero for standing up for myself, of course, things may not have worked out quite so smoothly for me as they did for George and Marty.
But using this incident as a starting point, what would I be like if I had smacked him one? Where would my life have gone if I had laid him out on the ground? And then there is the extension, where would I be if I had made different decisions when faced with the scenarios that I have listed above? Who would I be if I had made different decisions when those scenarios came along?