My first day at my new job didn’t start off so well. I left home in plenty of time, there was lunch in my bag and a full water bottle. It wasn’t even raining. Half way down the road, just past the bus stop, I realised I’d forgotten to pick up the passport photos from Friday. They were for my pass card. Should I go back or carry on? After a bit of dithering I decided to go back, meaning the rest of the walk to work was a rushed affair, filled with panic about being late on my first day. I’m always early for everything, how could this happen? Why do I always forget something?
The first part of my new walk to work was all too familiar. For a while I thought I’d stepped into some kind of time warp back to my days at Busy Bees more than thirteen years ago. Across the Big Bridge and through the industrial estate past the old Busy Bees office. I remembered all too well walking towards the river with dread in my heart. It wasn’t a job I enjoyed very much. For years afterwards I couldn’t cross the Big Bridge without glancing towards it and shuddering.
At the end of the path though I took the cut way onto the walkway along the river bank. The morning sun was shining as I looked back at the Big Bridge and there were boats on the deep blue water. If it wasn’t for the chilly wind and the rushing this would be a nice walk to work. It can get a trifle noisy however as I discovered when a train went clattering past. Perhaps if I was a train spotter I’d have appreciated it a little more. Back in the Busy Bees days we used to see trains all day from the huge office windows. The only interesting one was the Orient Express that passed once every couple of weeks. Sometimes the passengers would wave at us.
As I began to cross the boardwalk I knew all the rushing and power walking had worked, I wouldn’t be late. Over Horseshoe Bridge and I was nearly there, no time for nerves. Someone was going through the gate as I got there so I didn’t have to bother with the intercom which was good.
“Are you one of the new customer service people?” she asked me.
“Yes, for my sins,” I replied.
“Welcome to the team then,” she said.
Jess was waiting by the door for me. It was nice to have a smiling face to greet me and we chatted about my weekend walk as we went up the stairs to the office. Two of us were starting, the other a graduate called Mike. We had a short training session with Jess, mostly about what the job would entail and some of the processes. We were also given fetching yellow hi vis jackets to wear whenever we were outside in the yard. After that we sat listening in on calls and watching emails and social media enquiries being dealt with for the rest of the morning.
At lunchtime I walked back to Horseshoe Bridge and ate my lunch sitting on the Portrait Bench at the end of the boardwalk. It may not be as pretty as the enchanted park but I’ve eaten my lunch in worse places. If it hadn’t been so chilly it might have been quite pleasant. The lunch break is only half an hour so there was no time to dally too long. Even so, I couldn’t resist a little look at the wild flowers growing on the waste land behind the bench.
One little white honesty flower was almost hidden amongst a tangle of nettles and dried stems. Prunella or heal all, was springing up everywhere. One bright patch of acid green euphorbia stood out. There was even a fat dandelion clock, the first I’ve seen this year. Even a little bit of waste ground has beauty if you look hard enough.
Back at the office we had a tour of the building followed by a health and safety presentation then a film about the company. By this time I have to admit I was flagging a bit. Three months of not working has got me out of the habit of concentrating from nine to five. We were given a whole load of things to read through. My eyes felt terribly heavy and I’m not sure how much I took in. The lack of coffee may have been playing a part too. When someone came in with a chocolate fudge cake for everyone it took a supreme effort of will to resist. I’d forgotten how many temptations there are in an office in the average day.
When five o’clock came round I was looking forward to walking back along the river. I was looking forward to getting a cup of coffee at home even more. In the end the wind was so cold I walked back over Cobden Bridge, keeping away from the chilly water as much as possible. It was so cold I didn’t even stop to take a picture.
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