I’ve been quite busy on the electrical front, all small jobs but very profitable nevertheless. I prefer the type of work I am doing for a couple of reasons, not least of all my age! What I like is the freedom and flexibility the smaller jobs allow me to have whereas when I worked full-time I never got a minute to myself unless I turned down work. Not a good idea if it is your main income. However, since I had an income from a private pension when I started self-employment twenty years ago that was less of a problem. Since I began receiving my State Pension eleven years ago there isn’t a problem at all when it comes to taking time off. That however isn’t me, if the work is small, and that’s all I will do these days, I am more inclined to do it. Having said that the pressure of offers sometimes is relentless. I even get called when I am not advertising! Much of my time so far this year has been spent in the gardens and no doubt that will increase as the weather warms up. It was another lovely sunny day on Thursday but still cold in the westerly wind. I went to do a job in a house on the other side of town at nine o’clock and had it finished just an hour later. As has often been the case recently I again noticed a few bluebells in the front flowerbeds on my return home. (Picture taken last year)Most were simply small and close to the surface but a couple were rooted deep beneath the soil. I wondered how I had failed to see them on my previous visits but they do grow quickly and short of removing all the plants and turning over the whole flowerbed soil I am bound to miss a few. Needless to say I put on my overalls and dug them out before digging a few more out of the flowerbed by the small greenhouse in the rear garden. (Picture also from last year) I thought I might have been able to sit out on the patio for a time but the wind was too strong and by early afternoon the clouds rolled in to blot out the sunshine. It wasn’t to be, not yet.
I often wonder what each week will bring to my working life, even each day! I remember when my life was filled with commitments to others in the workplace, in my job as an electrician and how I was forced to spend my days because of my contractual obligations. Once I became self-employed those chains were taken away and I could please myself how my working life would be. At first though the chains weren’t completely removed as I took out a small contract with a local firm to look after the maintenance of their retail outlets and cafés but even so there was still some freedom to do other things. That contract ended when I had decided it wasn’t worth continuing with, it had become financially less profitable and was taking up too much of my time. At that point, in 2005, all of my time became my own and I was able to take on larger private electrical work. Since then of course I work fewer hours and can utterly please myself what I do. It is this fact that I am having difficulty in appreciating. When once I used to look forward to the weekends and days off work I don’t have to do that now. I can treat each day the same as the next, I can take days off whenever I please and it is a great feeling. However, filling those days can be a problem for someone like myself so used to working and liking it. Old habits die-hard, new routines are difficult for me to get used to and half the time I don’t wish for the status quo to change. Many people might find this a little strange but I like to be occupied working at something at least part of the time, for me that is as much a great feeling as waking up on a weekday knowing I can please myself whether I want to work or not! The weather recently has been fair with lots of sunshine, a prelude of days to come hopefully, days when I most probably won’t want to work so it will be great knowing I don’t have to.
The past few weeks on the work front haven’t been all that good for me although I did earn quite a bit last week. I suppose two factors are at work here, one is the recession of course and the other is the approach to Christmas. Traditionally in the past September through to the week before Christmas was always a very busy time for me people wanting new light fittings installed or things like outside power outlets so they could light up a tree in the front of the house. Not so this year though, or even last year as I recall. I don’t regard myself as being in full-time employment now, I consider myself to be employed part-time, however I don’t wish to stop working altogether. Up until yesterday I hadn’t any requests for my services this week so I was happy to get a call to a house to do some work. At the very least it paid for my advertisement with plenty to spare. I have to do at least one job on average each week to pay for my advert. Some weeks I earn way beyond my desired minimum whilst other weeks not quite as much and once in a while I get nothing at all! It is all swings and roundabouts though so I am never concerned. Perhaps over the next few weeks there will be a greater demand and I shall be kept fairly busy, who knows? I have to remember that I am not the only electrician working in the area but because I try to limit my work to small jobs I seem to do well enough. Most other electricians hereabouts will be relying on their income from large contracts so are less inclined to take on small jobs which is better for me. I often get told by my clients that other electricians have let them down by not even turning up because the job was too small but I think it is more to do with the fact that they haven’t the time having taken on a larger job. I am in a fortunate position I suppose in that respect as I don’t rely on my electrical work for my income. I like the breaks from work but it is nice to have something to do at least part of the time!
I often think about my life and my achievements and wonder what my life would have been like had I chosen a different career. I have been in the same business or career now for just over fifty years and have enjoyed all aspects of it. For much of that time I have been working in the public eye and have met many interesting people along the way. I have met some nasty people too, thankfully not many in that category. There have been very few incidents in my career where I have not been involved with other people. I wonder if I’d have had the same opportunity in meeting so many people in my working life whilst following a different path. Many people spend their whole working lives in one place or another and never get the opportunity for change or getting out into the world. That kind of working lifestyle is definitely not my thing although at one time I did spend almost twenty-one years working in the same establishment but it was a large complex with many buildings so I had some freedom of movement within the organisation which at that time had over three thousand people working there. However even such a place imposes quite a restriction compared to the outside world. When I became self-employed over fifteen years ago I began to realise and experience a freedom I had never before experienced and more than that, I had complete control of what I wanted to do and when I was to do it. There are many occupations which allow that sort of freedom and I suppose many would be as enjoyable as the one I chose. Thinking about your own situation, your likes and dislikes, your abilities and such, what other occupation might you have chosen that would have given you the same or a better enjoyment? Would another occupation have resulted in you being happier than you are now or had been whilst you were working? What, if anything, prevented you from making a career change? Do you have any regrets for not having made any changes or at least giving it a go? If you did make a change, was it for the better?
Phew! Or that was the week that was! I’ve had the busiest week at work for a long time. I have been so tired each night that I have retired earlier than usual and have been able to get to sleep very easily. I have woken up more refreshed after a good night’s rest and ready to start over again. This is the way it used to be when I was younger but in those days I worked much harder, now I find it much harder to work! I do pretty well for my age and I know for certain that I would leave many my age looking as if they are standing still. I think many folk let themselves go once they reach a certain age and don’t look after their physical fitness as perhaps they once did. Illness aside, there is no reason not to keep one’s self as fit as possible. It doesn’t take much to don a pair of shoes and go for a walk for instance and if you are serious about keeping fit this way well there are plenty of outlets where you can purchase suitable footwear and clothing to be as adventurous as you want. Walking is a good way to keep fit and it need not be strenuous either. You just go at a pace you feel comfortable with as go as far as you are able. Your stamina will slowly build as with any regular exercise and you begin to enjoy it as opposed to endure it! Working as hard as I have this week has left me too tired to exercise in other ways as much I normally do and that doesn’t really matter, it’s all a question of balance. I still manage to get on the treadmill nevertheless. There is of course the danger in overdoing things, both at work and at play so one has to be careful in these matters. No sooner than I’d done my last job for the week I received a request to do a small job on Monday morning! That is the way it goes sometimes. I was working for a lovely lady on Friday and we got on together very well. She took a great interest I what I was doing and she even gave me a helping hand where she could occasionally. On receiving that request she exclaimed ‘That’s the problem when you are self-employed and advertise, you have to make time for yourself otherwise your life is not your own’. How right she is! If I feel I am doing too much I do take the time out and offset my schedule to accommodate a work-free day when it suits me. To be perfectly honest I did not think that I would still be working at my age, not because I didn’t want to but more because I didn’t think I would be capable. I am glad I was wrong. My working life can be stressful if I allow it to be so I try to keep a lid on things. Now it is the weekend and I am planning to relax more………well, after I’ve been on the treadmill.
Over the past few months I have written often about retirement. My attitude is one of fear, not having anything to do would drive me nuts so if and when I retire I would need plenty of things to occupy my time. I say ‘if’ I retire, it may be that I end up dying on the job! Well that wouldn’t be so bad but I’d rather go to sleep one night and simply not wake up the following morning. I guess most of us would like it that way, painless and without worry. At this moment in time I have only my work to keep me occupied for the majority of my day but even that is usually kept to the morning only with just the odd days work lasting into the afternoon. The jobs I have planned at home are on hold. Yes I play my guitar to keep myself occupied but that is for pleasure and is limited to between one and two hours each day depending on how I am feeling. I exercise on my treadmill and go for walks sometimes. I go to the pub to socialize or go out dining once or twice weekly too but these things are not done every day and there is still an enormous amount of time left. If I was to stop working I am not sure how I could fill all the extra hours. I don’t live to work but I do like working and after almost fifty years doing so it will be difficult to simply stop. I had two colleagues die soon after they retired which may have been due to the sudden change of lifestyle but that isn’t what I fear, it’s the possible boredom! I do get bored very easily at times which could be due to my age. I never felt this way when younger. I know people who are retired and their days are spent in a very routine way. They do the same things day in and day out seemingly without much change. Now that would drive me nuts! I like spontaneity and that is why I like my job, it is different each day. I like doing things on the spur of the moment and when I am in the mood. That is how I write my poems and songs, spontaneously. Like everyone else I do have a routine of sorts but it does vary each day. I never get up or go to bed at set times, I never eat at set times either and do things when I need to or want to. The only exception to that is where I have to keep appointments either for my work or to see the doctor or dentist for instance and they usually upset the best of any plans I might have made anyway. So whether I retire or not is partly irrelevant, it is more important that I am kept busy so that I don’t get bored.
Ecclesiastes 2 (NIV)
24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God,
Toil Is Meaningless
17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then he must leave all he owns to someone who has not worked for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless.
24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
I was engaged in a very small job on Monday and was asked if I had anything else to do. I replied that I hadn’t and that is quite usual for me. I often find that I have one small job at the beginning of the week and nothing else booked but as the week progresses things change and I often find myself inundated with requests. Being self-employed is sometimes a difficult road to travel as you find you cannot find time to relax unless you specifically take it. During the normal working week you have to be available for spur-of-the-moment calls or lose the prospect of a job. When younger this isn’t a problem, more energy, more enthusiasm and probably more strength too! If I fancy having a glass of wine in the afternoon I either have one or leave it until evening depending on whether I want to take calls or not. I don’t know why it is but some people, knowing they want some work doing, often leave it till the last-minute before calling and expect you will be available for them. If it took them so much time to contact me another day won’t make any difference. I have been to remote locations in the morning and had to return home with nothing else to do and then get a call from such a person who happened to live in the same area! I could have done their job in the afternoon when they called. Unless it is an emergency such jobs are put off till the next day or whatever day suits the caller. I never know from one minute to the next if I will get work or not and what I do get is always different from day-to-day. This is what makes my work fascinating and enjoyable. No wonder I am reluctant to give it up just yet. One day I will have to, you never know!
I’ve been quite busy lately in the electrical field (excuse the pun). Used to it I might be but I sometimes wonder what other occupation I might have pursued had I not chosen the electrical one. I have come across people from many walks of life and with many different occupations but I’m not sure if any of them appealed to me. That’s not to say that those occupations are unworthy or uninteresting, they just didn’t hold an interest for me as a full-time occupation. I guess I don’t really know what else I might have become involved in. So I ask my reader what would you be doing today had you chosen a different path in life? Are there any reasons why you didn’t choose something different to what you are doing now? I suppose it is easy to say that we might not have done just as well had we chosen a different career but is that true? One thing I am sure about is that whatever other career or occupation I might have chosen, it would have to be one where I wasn’t stuck in the same place every day, in an office, shop or factory for instance. I think I would not have remained in such a situation for very long because I like the freedom my job has given me. Having said that I did spend 21 years in the same place some years ago when I worked in the maintenance department of a bank. However, the bank wasn’t a single building but several buildings on the one site, each one different from the other in size, functionality and equipment. That job required competency in many disciplines and was challenging and satisfying but after so long there I needed to get out and back into the world. I did that 15 years ago when I became self-employed. During my working life I have learned many things, been involved in many different tasks and I can say with hindsight that none of them were boring in any way. I think that is essential in any occupation. Whatever occupation, job or career we choose in life I think it is important that it isn’t boring but that it is diverse and full of interest. Unfortunately not all are just so. It must be hard for those seeking work in today’s economic climate were jobs are scarce and where any job is better than none, boring or not.
Many years ago when I was much younger and in my teens I often thought about what would happen if my then world was to crumble around me. I have only ever been employed in the electrical installation/maintenance business with minor diversions into other fields such as air conditioning, heating and ventilation and refrigeration amongst a few others. I have never been unemployed and although I have had dry periods of unemployment since becoming self-employed fifteen years ago they were no more than the seasonal trend that is sometimes a part of the building trade. In my youth the thought that I might sometime become unemployed was a little scary and I hoped it would never happen. I wondered how my family and I might cope in not having an income but the reality was unlikely as there always seemed to be plenty of work available in all areas. There was no reason to doubt that things would never change. It was an era of prosperity and all was well. How things have changed since those days! With the fall in worldwide prosperity and a financial recession becoming worse on a daily basis many have found themselves bankrupt and out on the street. I was watching a program about the American unemployment problem now put at over 50 million out of work with millions living rough. Many people over there are now living in tents because they have no homes to live in and some are even living in the storm drains beneath the city of Las Vegas where a few feet above them are people squandering vast amounts of cash in the gambling houses and institutions! The gap between the rich and poor is ever-widening. No-one seems to care. No-one seems to know what to do. There are those who care of course but with little or no resources and little or no help from those who have plenty to spare, nothing gets done. When it comes down to the hard facts very few people care. In a news item a few days ago it was reported that a young boy had felt faint and collapsed in full view of hundreds of commuters in a railway station. Only one person came to his aid after many had just walked on by. People are either frightened to get involved or they are simply too self-centred and uncaring. Obviously not Samaritans. What is happening to our world? Why is it that poor people exist in our societies? While we are affluent and comfortable we forget those who are less so or even not so. The time to help is when we have, it is too late when we have not but who really cares?
When I was young I didn’t have any ideas about my future. Most children, when asked about what they would like to be when they grow up (now there’s a strange phrase, one usually grows up) they often give some fanciful answer. Very rarely will that answer become fulfilled. Whenever I was asked that question I just couldn’t give an answer but that’s not to say I didn’t want to be someone. My ‘someone’, had anyone believed me, would have been the fulfilment of transitioning, changing my gender identity or rather my appearance to become a woman. Actually I had no idea at all how that could be achieved but as a child I suppose anything seems possible. So it was that when I was at an age to start my working life I had no ideas about that either. What I did desire was to somehow fund an operation to make me into the woman I felt I was inside for by now I knew it was possible having read stories about it. As it turned out I started work without any knowledge of what that work would entail. I know now of course! My plans went astray and other things took control in my life so I lost the opportunity to fulfill my dreams. They of course were fulfilled much later as you can see and can read about above in my pages area. I was pretty much an innocent and naive person in my childhood, youth and even in my early life as an adult. I was very timid and lacked self-esteem and confidence, probably because of all the bullying I had to endure over the years but that was long ago. Once upon a time life was very simple and straightforward but as I grew it became more complicated every day. There are so many things I miss from my childhood and youth that would be lovely if they were still part of my life. There were many things that I am glad have disappeared from my life too. Everything of course is due to the behaviour and attitudes of others. It is the people in our lives that cause the real problems when there are any. Once upon a time I wanted no contact with others. As a child the world was different and exciting. As a youth I began to realise that all wasn’t as it seemed and as an adult I realised that life can be a real pain because of other people. Once upon a time things were different.
Every day something changes around here. It’s getting difficult keeping up with it all at times. Yesterday morning I had another extra lie in bed. I had no real reason to get up early, I was tired and besides which it was my day of rest. When I eventually arose I discovered that E’s nephew had already started to install the windows in the garage. Before I had my late breakfast I went out to see him. He spent a good portion of the day doing the job because he had a few snags to overcome and he left the site a couple of times too. Nevertheless by the end of the afternoon he had them in but the windows in the rear of the garage need extra work on the outside. The idea is to fit a plastic trim to surround their flush fitting with the wall as I did not wish them to be recessed. He will do that after he has fitted plastic cladding to the existing fascia board, an extra job I asked him to do. Hopefully he will finish it early next week. I spent the whole day doing practically nothing, our youngest son was at home sporadically and E was out all afternoon. Today she will be down in Birmingham again at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre) with her ‘comp’ friends and won’t be home until early evening. I hope to be able to do some work either indoors or outside, dependent on the weather. Yesterday was a fine sunny day even though the forecast was otherwise. I hope today will be much the same but I’ll have to wait and see. Our eldest son had wanted to make a sideways step in his career as a policeman which would give him much better prospects and opportunities for promotion. He telephoned yesterday saying that he got the posting but won’t start in the new position until 1st September. As a bonus, this posting carries better working hours that his current rota which will be a great benefit to him. Our youngest son has been looking for another job since his present one meant he had to take a 50% cut in his salary. It appears he has been offered a job with good pay and conditions but he has yet to make a decision to take it or not. Since the beginning of last year we have seen many changes to our home, lives and situations. It seems the changes haven’t yet stopped and every day brings new things.
Tuesday turned out to be quite a busy day which at first I thought I couldn’t handle but as it turned out all was well. I’d had a really good night’s sleep on Monday having been so tired after Sunday’s work and again on Monday. It was like I had aches and pains where I didn’t know I had parts! Anyway my first job yesterday was not until 9.30 so I didn’t rush to get out of bed. The job was relatively easy but a little time-consuming. My second job at 1.30 was extremely easy. I was back home for 2.00. I’d had my lunch at home after the first job was completed. So I had the afternoon and the rest of the day to myself. I made myself busy relaxing, playing guitar in the warm sunshine and generally pottering about. E went out in the afternoon and didn’t get home until after 5.00. I had a visit from our youngest son who told me his job was under threat and he would be losing half his salary at the very least. He works for his friend who pays his salary but it is his friend’s father who is cutting back on expenditure by paying his son less. He is in property management and is a multi-millionaire. Why he wants to do that to his son (and subsequently our son too) is anyone’s guess. Both my son and his friend actually make money for his business! I suspect it is just greed. Even his wife has pleaded with him not to do what he is doing. My son has a lot of debt to control, his apartment, car, telephone and television contracts aside from general living expenses and to top all of that, his university loan. He may have to return to live with us if things get too difficult. It’s such a shame when he’s just beginning to get on top of things. Even his older brother and his wife are considering a move back home with us if they can sell their property. Their present house is too small and is losing them money. I am only happy to help my children and I am fortunate in that I am in a position to accommodate them should they come back home. Well the house is certainly big enough!
Today I have two more jobs to do. It looks as if things are picking up a bit for me after a recent dry spell. I am being careful though, I am not taking on too much work at once so that I can find more time to myself. If I could just work every other day or perhaps mornings only I would be happy with that. Assuming I get the opportunity of course!
I swore to myself that I would take a more relaxed approach to life and not to take on board too much work, to spread out my workload to leave more time for myself. Well things are going along at a nice pace now and I feel less under pressure than I have felt of late. I started my working life in 1962 and have remained in the same industry ever since. Having worked for two employers during the time between 1962 and 1997, I began my own business and worked for myself. That was the best thing I have ever done concerning occupational work. I could pace myself, work whenever it suited me and I was the only person I could answer to. Things didn’t quite pan out like that of course, I mean the workload increased and because of the attraction and opportunity to earn more I was pushing myself hard. I didn’t mind the work, in fact I thrived on it but of course as we get older we begin to realise our limitations and consequently take longer to do the things we once did quickly. I can still work at a fast pace and that is due to the fact that I have the experience and know the quickest and most efficient way to do jobs. Had I the same experience when I first started work I may have been able to do twice as much! Now I have been gainfully employed for almost 49 years and have been fortunate not to have been unemployed for even a short time during the whole period. In this day and age things are far different and nobody can guarantee that they will keep the same job for life. Now we are in a recession jobs have become more scarce and there are more people chasing after those jobs that are available. The pace of life for todays workers is more hectic I fancy and more is demanded of them for far less money than was possible some years ago. Life in general has moved up a gear and people are rushing here and there and really getting nowhere in the process. There is a hunger for knowledge, connecting with other people, which was prophesied in ages past. For me, in the Autumn of my life, the pace is just right.
When I started my working life female electricians were unheard of, so I get told when people ask how long I have been an electrician. They don’t know my history of course but I still get asked if I found it difficult working in a male-orientated industry. I tell them I gave as good as I received. Smiles all round. This whole idea of it being unusual for women to be electricians, or anything else normally associated with the male of the species, brings about the subject of male chauvinism to my thoughts. It has taken many years for any liberation of women to take place because essentially it was always ‘a man’s world’ and women have traditionally kept home. Part of the problem in reaching total liberation lies with women themselves and it isn’t solely due to nurture, it is a natural phenomena. I am a firm believer in equality between the genders (spectrum) but I also believe that much of what we do is determined by the gender we are. Women cannot help being women and acting in a womanly way and this has a powerful impact on their attitude in regard to occupational employment. Many women will be fearful of undertaking what they think only men should be doing feeling themselves to be inadequate for the task. Whether that is an inherent trait might be debatable. Many will ‘buck the trend’ of course which proves that nothing is set in concrete. We cannot say categorically that certain occupations are gender specific because they are not. It all comes down to attitude and inclination. On the surface there is absolutely no reason for any occupation to be gender specific but in practice we see otherwise. In my own particular field it is becoming more acceptable for women to be electricians just as it is for them to be plumbers, motor mechanics, decorators and many other practical occupations. Women have for many years been successful in areas of employment such as we find in the education, medical and legal professions but it has been slow progress in other professions. It was unusual for women to be doing things we have in the past always regarded as being ‘masculine’ but not any more. I wonder what progress men have made in comparison.