I had to start this post with a lovely picture of London town, which I do have a big soft spot for, it sounds sad, but I get this little exciting churn in my stomach when my train pulls into Waterloo, but this is probably because I now don’t do the journey into town every day any more, so it is a bit of a novelty. But I have to say, when I did work in London back in 2000 (that doesn’t sound that long ago but it is!!) I did love it, I was 20 and having left that awful lady from previous reception job, I just had this urge to go and work in London in the media industry, so this is what I did. I joined a fab agency called Career Moves who got me a great temp job on a reception at a big Ad agency. I was so excited as I got in there and there were two other girls on the reception and a bar in the actual reception! To me, this was great as i had never seen anything like it and I felt at home straight away, the girls I worked with seemed nice, well they both were to start with! One was the ‘Head receptionist’ and very highly strung, would only wear designer clothes and very critical of others, she was also going out with one of the directors in the company, so thought she was the bees knees! The other receptionist was nicer, but turned on me in the end for some reason and I think it boiled down to jealously (more on that soon)
So, after being in the job for three months, I got made permanent, I was so pleased but then my little happiness bubble was burst by Head receptionist, as for some reason, she then decided to tell me that I wasn’t actually their first choice for the job, but the person they wanted, turned the job down?! How to make a girl feel wanted ay? So, from then on for me, it wasn’t great as just felt 2nd best, but I persevered as I loved the actual job and got to meet some famous people such as Peter Kay who I had a surreal moment of sitting in his trailer on an ad shoot eating shepherds pie with him! (great guy). Kylie (who was quite rude actually!) Ray Winstone and Eddie Izzard (lovely guys). So for me at that age I was super impressed by all this, how shallow does that sound now?!
Now, It may have been my age or maybe I was a bit naive back then, or a bit of both! But the MD guy at the ad agency took a bit of a liking to me, in a friendly, non-pervy way I may add! As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the girls on reception, they used to try and warn me about him, saying he was only after one thing etc.. I decided though, to give him the benefit of the doubt, as I took him at face value and from what I saw and knew, he was a decent guy…
So fast forward a 9 months or so and it was my 21st Birthday and I was in the office and the girls on reception had bought me a Louis Vuitton handbag which I thought was nice of them, considering the frostiness I was getting from them. But the attitude towards me was about to get much worse! The MD guy, let’s call him T, decided he was taking me to The Ivy for lunch! He is good friends with the owner so he could get a table at a moments notice, so off I went with him in a taxi for lunch at the Ivy! Which back then, was quite exclusive. I had been there before, with T and a whole group of girls from work, for no reason as all, he liked to treat the girls and show off a bit, as these media guys do! Elton John asked to be moved, as we were all too loud, classic and true story! So back to my Birthday. So we arrive at restaurant and this time, a totally different atmosphere, as it was just the two of us and I have to admit, I was a bit nervous and kept thinking of a plan in case he tried it on or something, as the girls were making all sorts of comments as soon as they knew I was going there with him, so a lot was running through my head. Anyway, any concerns soon went away, as the conversation started with him asking me if I was happy on reception, as he had a feeling I wasn’t happy and asked what I wanted to do etc.. So, I told him. I thought I had nothing to lose, so I told him I wanted to be a PA up on the creative floor. A month later, it was done! I was up on the creative floor being a PA to one of the creative directors! I was so happy and grateful to T and no, he didn’t want anything in return, he just had faith in me and knew I could do more than look pretty sitting on a reception (not dissing receptionists out there, it is a valued job, if you get the right one!) So, T took a chance on me and gave me my break that I needed to get me on my PA career path.
Now, this did not go down well with snobby knickers and Essex girl on reception. What added to the issue was that the other PA that I had to sit next to and work alongside was best friends with Essex girl, so this ended up being hard-work and they had a bit of a clique going on with some other girls, which made me feel totally isolated, such as, they would all go down the pub at lunchtime and they wouldn’t usually ask me, sometimes they did because they felt they had to and you could tell it was a ‘lets ask her and hope she says no’ kind of thing. Charming! But I just used to ignore and get on with my work. I did have an effect on me though though as I did feel like I was a leper or something, but on a big work team night out I started to understand a bit more, why they may have treated me like this.
We were all out in London for the Capital Radio awards which we all attended every year, then afterwards we would go out on a bit of a pub crawl (not really my scene but I joined in as felt I had to) So we were in this private members only club and I needed the loo so I went down the the ladies and found all the clique of girls in the loo and soon as they saw me they looked sheepish and then I realised why… They were basically taking coke and then pleaded with me not to tell T as he is really anti-drugs, as am I, which they obviously knew or guessed, hence me not being in there lunch clique or after work drinks, because they were probably sticking that stuff up their noses and knew I wouldn’t be into it and they were also scared I would grass them up to T, which I never did by the way, it was none of my business what they did out of work, but from then on, I just felt awkward around the girls, even more than usual and the atmosphere got even worse and they would literally just ignore me. This made my working life hell, as it was so miserable, so I felt like at the time, I had no choice but to hand my notice in, as I knew they wouldn’t be going anywhere, so I had to, for my own sanity. T was really disappointed that I was leaving, but I think he had a feeling why.
So, after a few up and down years, I waved goodbye to London with a bit of a heavy heart to be honest, but I had just met a new man and was ready to settle back down in a job locally (or so I thought!) But, I did learn a lot from the whole experience. I learnt that I was probably a bit naive with regards to drugs, as it seemed that they weren’t the only one’s doing it! I also learnt that, sometimes, you have to go through some shit to get where you want to be, you just need to grow a thicker skin while doing it! It is funny really, as one of the girls did finally admit in the end that she was jealous that T used to favour me, which I already guessed anyway. But maybe he did this because I was a nice, friendly person that worked hard and wanted to do well? I will be forever thankful to him, for taking a chance on me and giving me the break I needed and wanted. I wish there were more T’s in this world 🙂
PS: What I also would have told my 21 year old self – That guy that you had a secret crush and obsessed about for 2 years at work..?! You should have been braver and told him, as he also had a big crush on you too, you ejeet!!