During the Covid lockdowns, I tried to do anything to keep my head above water. Universal credit was something, the part-time jobs were another, the mortgage 'holiday' yet another, but altogether still not enough. I've never been good with money. I don't know how I can keep going, except through relying on credit which is crippling me; It feels like I'm building my own debt mountain. I mount pebble on pebble, stone on stone and rock on rock. What will I do to get over it? I know and expect the pain is going to hit me for many years to come. What's important is to not show the kids how worried I am. Still, I've got a welcome addition to the bank account after completing another medical study.
Not being able to start my driving school is really hampering me, will I be able to keep my home? It's a worry that the franchise for the driving school is praying on my mind too. Yes, I'll be busy but am I going to end up being a busy fool? I'm already effectively paying a quarter of my income in franchise fees and after I pass my last qualification I'll be legally committed to the franchise for another 3 years. Why do I keep having to pay my franchise fee in cash to the owner of the company?
Strange that the thing keeping me going is the memory of the Brathay 10in10. It seems to have helped make me in more ways than just the physical.
It looked like the last lockdown was in sight but I managed to grab another part-time job as the agency work as a cleaner at James Cook University Hospital dried up, the driving school might be able to resume, but you never know? Offered a job as a 'driver', ferrying care home staff between nursing homes here in North Yorkshire and Cumbria along the A66. After a brief stint helping make reinforced concrete panels at the local farm and quarry, I've also managed to obtain a role as a Census Assistant, chasing up missing census forms.
Working for the Nursing Home employer was a real eye-opener. Once employed, no-one spoke to you, except to tell you if you weren't doing it quite right. The GM was ex-forces, after the initial interview he never spoke with me again, way to make someone feel welcome to your team. At interview I'd asked if I could run from home to pick the work car up and complete my duties, only to be reprimanded the first time I did it because I arrived wearing shorts? No uniform provided, no changing facilities provided, I'd politely asked if I could do this as part of my training for another attempt at the 10in10 in 2021, seems that the conversation was barely paid a kiss of lip service.
Playing to my own ironic strengths of positive time-keeping, I barely made it to each shift on time. On one occasion my alarm didn't go off and amazingly my own conscience or perhaps body clock woke me up. I really ought to listen to myself sometimes and have a little faith.
During the medical study, I came to the decision that it would not be in my best interests to remain with the driving school franchise. And so, I tendered my resignation. The owner could not have been more kind in his response when I explained my reasons; embarrassingly I explained I could count the food I had in my cupboard. The response was a delivery of a food basket. Wow! That's enough to change my mind. Someone that invested in his sub-contractors can't be all that bad. I call him and suggest that I'm still thinking about my resignation but the gift of the food basket was above and beyond. The response, 'if you can pop a social media post online to that effect.' Bowled away again, but in the opposite direction. Charity comes with a caveat? It's 5am, my mind was ringing, don't hit snooze now, the scent of freshly brewed coffee hits my nostrils, what a shake up of the senses, I'm left incredulous. After saying goodbye, it dawned on me what he'd just asked. Offended to my (limited) intelligence and my wavering moral compass, I felt physically sick, angry and upset.
He who dares, does it, was a phrase one of the Miners Arms centre-backs used to shout during Sunday League football matches. Let's stick to my guns, go it alone and aim for success on my own. Each awakening day is mine,
This story is written with the benefit of hindsight, but the notes and scribbles were made during the Covid pandemic and lockdowns.