Saturday, 8 November 2008

Experiencing work

This title kind of makes me sound like some lazy fool who's never done any work and is dipping his toe into contributing to society. Well, I have done work before. I go to school every day and that's more work than most adults imagine. Especially when I have a day that goes Maths, Chemistry and Business Studies in the morning.
I was going to take on work with Ode at Harcourt/Pearson education. However now Ode no longer exists and I needed a placement fast. I saw a sign in the Fairtrade shop denoting that volunteers were welcome to come in and help. I was in a hurry for a placement and I do kind of have a thing for 'ethical living'. About two months later I was sitting on the front steps of the shop wondering what I had let myself into. It's important to note here that the participators of the St Michael at the Northgate shop are 'volunteers' that is they're there because they want to be and they truly belive in the future of the Indian/Vietnamese/African/Chinese/Brazillian children they're trying to save.
So from here it's also useful to point out that every person was completely devoted to their cause. I worked with a whole range of people, from north oxford ladies with nothing better to do, to missionary students, a guy called Dan who I swear having seen before and who has a speech defect, depressed people, disabled people. Somehow causes like these seem to attract all colours of society.
And every day I got to go out for an hour and read Mangas in Borders. Possibly the best bit of my day. I got to stock all the various goods which came through the shop. The thing is that the stock was not ordinary like shoes, it was full of bizarrely interesting items. Of course I wasn't expecting to find things like 'health elixir' or magical bracelets. But every day I would come in to find that more grain or cocoa had arrived from far-flung corners of the orient. It was strikingly familiar to the Pirates of the Carribean role playing game. Minus the boat and the sailing. But it still smelt of that adventure. The spices just in from barbados. You know, that kind of thing. And of course I was constantly reminded that it was all in a good cause.

Things I gained from Work Experience at the Fairtrade shop:
  • An Onya bag (See the play on words there? It's a bag made of parachute silk which packs away really small)
  • Loads of muffins (They were out of date so we got them instead)
  • Ubuntu cola (It sounds exactly like that Linux OS!)
  • Some chocolate (Matchstick wanted some)
  • A ten pound voucher (In gratitude for my services to society)
And I learnt a couple of things too 'free trade' is just another word for globalisation. And if a product is 'ethically sourced' it means it wasn't good enough to be called 'fairtrade'. So watch out steady consumers for this dastardly trick.

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