Tuesday, 19 April 2011
The Ambulance Service Effect
As you know everything I 'preach' I have practised. I have also been singularly daft because I've learned all my lessons the hard way when the easy way would have been so much more pleasant - and the hard way probably wore out one Guide! I'm only kidding of course, but strangely I got a much more determined chap in his place LOL.
When I was 16 I was sent to work against my will in a job chosen for me by my parents, and landed up working in London taking inland telegrams. I was far too young for shift work that left me sitting alone on the platform at Blackfriars Station in London on cold dark nights waiting for the train home. Fortunately the platform staff were incredibly kind and one usually sat with me or kept an eye on me, and then made sure that I got into a populated carriage.
Because I couldn't cope with the evening and weekend work and no social life whatsoever I landed up leaving, and my father decided to get me an interview in the local ambulance headquarters. I duly went for the interview with the instruction not to embarrass him by failing to get the job. I got it.
I know that this sounds utterly feeble, twice being told what job to go and get by your parents, but actually I was feeble in those days. I was also 16. It was also the early 1970s and in our echelon of society you did not rebel. I knew that to rebel would result in my being politely asked to find myself a flat.
So I got the job and I will never, ever forget the awful feeling I had the first day I walked into the place. The nearest I can describe it was that it felt like life ending. To this day it was the most unkind and bitchy place that I ever worked and that's saying something in nearly 40 years.
The people there had decided that I only got the job because of my father and they were going to show me that I couldn't expect any favours, and I was told this within 1/2 an hour of walking through the door. My father was a very junior officer by the way, not THE boss!
They certainly didn't deliver any favours but they didn't deliver any kindness either. The strange thing was that due to my post office training I was actually over qualified for the role. I told my mother how horrible it all was and she told me that I had to beat this, therefore I had to stay there until I got on with everyone. So I did.
I also got caught in the 1970s recession which meant that there weren't any jobs to move into, and the work we did was so specialised that when I did go for another job no one interviewing me understood what I did for a living.
I wasn't the only one badly treated, all the younger girls got a version of what I got. For example walking in on a bloated day to have someone call out "look at the size of your stomach - are you pregnant?"
Then I started on the Spiritual pathway by being taught to change my thinking and the way I reacted to things. Gradually things began to change and I found that I became the person who did all the collections, knew when someone was ill and got the cards, and generally started to take care of the place.
As I changed spiritually so did things around me. I became more popular with the staff there and I found it easier to have conversations with them. I laughed off the rudeness until there was no point in being rude any more. I cheeked one of the senior officers until he threatened to report me and then told him that perhaps I had no respect for him because of the constant innuendo he subjected me to. That sorted out that problem once and for all. Oddly we became great friends.
Eventually I can honestly tell you that those people became some of my greatest friends and I remember almost every one of them with a great deal of affection and respect. This would never have happened if I had remained the person I was brought up to be, because it was the spirituality in me that made it ok for them to like me and vice versa.
There were two absolutely incandescent moments during those years. The first was about a man that I will call Poppa Dee (we used the phonetic alphabet and that was his call sign). To say we hated each other with a passion when I first joined the job would be the understatement of the millennium. I couldn't do a thing right and he scared me witless (I'm being polite here).
Then something happened to him and he went from angry and unpleasant to vulnerable and frightened in a way that was truly heartbreaking. He realised then that a lot of the problems I had suffered with when I joined had been about a similar vulnerability and fear and we started talking. A few months later he said something to me along the lines of "I couldn't stand you when you first joined the job but I have to say you've grown into one of the nicest people I have ever known. You've really grown up well." I still hold that comment very dear to my heart and my respect for him went through the roof when he said it.
Sadly he died a few months later for reasons none of us understood and actually of nothing, they literally couldn't put anything on his death certificate. We always felt that he died of a broken heart. His illness and subsequent passing brought the office team together in a way you would have had to see to believe, the kindness and gentleness emanating from the entire group was awesome and unforgettable.
I'm not putting this down to my spiritual rebirth, far from it, I think the emotional crash of one so close to us really taught us all something important and I know that through him we learnt to value each other far more highly and he taught us something very special with his passing.
The second wonderful thing was the day I left and the love that was shown to me. I still have the gift they gave me and I would never part with it - tatty though it's getting it stays as a memory of those people, the changes we all made, the darling cat who liked to sleep in it, and my great good fortune in discovering the spiritual path and the special man who put my feet so firmly on it.
All in all a very good memory of spiritual growth and the ability to become an entirely different person. Something I hope continues to this day and will never stop.
Wishing you happy days, peaceful nights, and wonderful memories dragged out of the garbage of the past