When was the first time (outside of school) that you discovered you had a natural skill at something?
Mine was when I was twenty and working as a retail assistant in Watford, Herts. A huge post office where i spent all day working the till, filling displays and chatting to customers. Until the boss decided he wanted to branch out and open a little photo booth. There were five of us, and I prayed to every god they would choose anyone but me to be trained up. The idea of working on a big machine that whirled and twirled and was filled with chemicals filled me with dread, more than dread. It kept me awake at night. Did my manager sense my fear? Was it a scent that followed me around? Who knows but two weeks later i was sitting beside him in a training centre…shaking. Eight hours, that’s all they give you, just eight hours to become trained…it was lost on me. However back in the shop i was thrown in at the deep end, here have a booth, some chemicals and a black bag to change papers. I screwed up more than once, the machine screwed up constantly, as the sun disappeared from sight and everyone stopped to look i was elbow deep in chemicals…it was not good.
Across the road, directly, was a Snappy Snaps, now they knew how to produce photos, i didn’t. The boss man, would come over and pretend to buy a drink, i’d see him watching me, smirking as i cocked up, again, watching as irate customers shouted at me, as work colleagues hid in corners letting me take the fall. Then, one day, one of his girls just appeared, in front of me, handed me a form ‘Here fill this out.’ Was this a joke? ‘Nah’ she said, he’s been watching you, and we have a vacancy come up, he wants you…to this day i have no idea what he saw in me, but am thankful that he saw something.
He didn’t show me how to do things, he told me why we do them. The result was i learned, no more mistakes. Whilst i learned to tame these machines, i made friends…more importantly, i discovered, i discovered i could see colours, i discovered chemicals weren’t so scary, i excelled…i excelled, i was head hunted as senior printer at another store, the entire lab was mine :-), i explored Photoshop, i fixed the machines, i gave instructions…all because that one man, that one day, saw something in me, that i didn’t know was there. :-). I was head hunted further, back to my home town, trainee assistant manager…the store was almost mine.