I do not have PPI. I repeat, I do not have Payment.Protection. Insurance; mainly because I haven’t got a loan, credit card, car or finance for my non-existent car or mortgage. In fact it’s a definite salt-in-the-wound situation with PPI, who text, email and phone me almost to spitefully remind me that I have nothing. Almost everyday. The thing is when you’re at home alone (with a rabbit, so not totally alone but bereft of human contact) you tend to jump at any phone call. It might be a job. It might be my future husband. I can dream. Can’t I? Although on reflection if my future husband rang me, that could be considered a tad creepy and would consequently invalidate his eligibility No one likes a stalker. With the exception of Facebook stalkers, because that would be a rather large slice of the current human race.
No, this blatant harassment is either someone trying to shift some double glazing or it’s a PPI person, so a PPIP. I don’t care for cold callers, I also do not care for the long dramatic pause at the start of a phone call in which I have become accustomed to imitating Victor Meldrew’s angry ‘HELL…OOOO, until the voice activated message deigns to kick in. Leaving me angry and annoyed at unnecessarily getting up from my cover letter composition. Normally, this pause undoubtedly means that it is a recorded voice and I imagine that the person employed to press play on these drab voice clips has fallen asleep on the job, hence the infuriating delay. Or it could be my Auntie. I made the mistake once, of shouting ‘HELL…OOOO’ at her rather aggressively because she had taken a rather large swig of tea whilst waiting for us to pick up, which literally rendered her speechless for several seconds, in which I was mentally preparing a most elaborate threat.
PPI has turned me into an abusive person. So you can imagine that whenever the phone rings with a number and not a name, naturally I’m thinking this could be a job offer. And then the PPI-aware segment of my brain pipes up and reminds me, ‘Don’t get excited sweetcheeks, this probably isn’t even a real person.’
So imagine if you will, I am deep in the midst of a cover letter to Curtis Brown Literary agents, practically begging for an internship. (I had a freak out in the shower earlier this morning after receiving two more work experience rejections and as the shampoo dripped into my eyes I began to panic. What if no one ever gave me a work experience placement? What if my beloved, personalized and heavily researched cover letters were to0 wax lyrical about books? What if I wasn’t business savvy enough? What if they thought me soppy? I mean I am soppy but I don’t want publishers to think this!
I rinsed off the ‘no tears’ cherry and almond shampoo, (goodness knows why my parents have purchased Children’s shampoo, is my regression that obvious?) real tears forming in my eyes. I got dressed and sat on my bed and watched crime stories. Once I realized that I was indulging in the unemployed stereotype of watching daytime television, I picked myself up, shoved some washing in the machine and cracked on with the enthralling task of selling yourself. No one was buying today though. Or so I thought.
Every email I received was about Christmas. A Christmas, it was becoming increasingly apparent, I could not afford. If I couldn’t even get a placement working for free, then how the hell could I get a paid one? Even Waterstones didn’t seem to want me. It was becoming increasingly clear that I was going to have to create some kind of poly juice potion, kidnap a publishing professional,chop off a clump of their hair and hope for the best. But I would need to graduate from Hogwarts first and befriend Hermione Granger and considering I’m in love with her boyfriend, it probably isn’t likely we’d get along too well.
Anyway, I digress. I got back to my letters, thinking of reasons why I would like to work for a literary agency only to notice that I was applying for a position that was ‘on hold’. How can an internship be on hold? Who is holding it? Bizarre.
All of a sudden my mobile rang. Only I couldn’t answer it, because my phone is so full of pictures of my pet rabbit and niece (only a mere 1, 769 of them) that it has become increasingly slow and the screen keeps freezing. But in the absolute nick of time, just before the phone was about to ring off I managed to ‘slide to answer’ and clamped the phone to my ear.
‘Hello, is that Rebecca. I’m (I can’t remember her name but for the sake of argument i’ll call her Sue. Because Sue is a sound name, it suits the sensible and kind, Miss Honey-esque tone to her voice) Sue from Walker books.’
‘Sorry, who?’ I muttered, a little stunned and wondering if I had heard her correctly.
‘Sue from Walker books. Is now a good time to talk?’
I felt like I was being summoned into the headmasters office or something. Did I need to sit down for this? What could she possibly want to say to me? Rejection by telephone? I couldn’t take this.
‘Yes. Yes, its a good time.’
‘Good.’ I had the distinct feeling that I was either about to be told off or let down gently. ‘Well, thank you very much for your cover letter, we are very impressed by your huge passion and enthusiasm.’
‘Oh?’ I think my surprise was incredibly evident. I still sensed a ‘but’ coming. And a big ‘but’ at that. I was literally perched like some huge wing-and-featherless bird, terrified that the signal could and would (knowing my house) cut out at any moment. However the soft voice continued.
‘Yes. We have a really exciting placement.’ Why must you taunt me so? Why was she telling me about this? Did she want to break my heart? ‘And we’d like to offer you this placement with us. It would be in the Sales, Marketing, PR & Publicity teams and you’d get some exciting tasks as well as more admin ones. But it’s a very exciting time to work at Walker, in fact it’s a really lovely placement.’
She waited. I was smiling and nodding. Only when I caught sight of my foolish self in the mirror did I realize that this wasn’t Skype.
‘Yes, yes, yes.’ Ok, so know I’d started reciting an old herbal essences advert. My cover letter had clearly done well in disguising my true madness. ‘That sounds brilliant!’
‘Oh good.’ She really was quite lovely. ‘You said in your email that you are quite readily available?’ I did indeed. I do not have a life. ‘So would you be able to start on the 3rd of December until the 13th the next week? How does that sound?’
‘Yes. I mean, that sounds perfect. Brilliant! Thank you so much, I’m so excited!’ I was actually ecstatic.
She laughed. ‘That’s fantastic, I’m so glad you’re excited!’ She sounded genuine. Hooray, the people I had been emailing were human after all.
She asked me if there were any questions I wanted to ask her. I asked about the hours, she told they would be 9:30am-5:30pm and I would get a free lunch in the cafeteria prepared by the lovely Sally (again I can’t for the life of me remember her name but I shall continue with the ‘S’ theme, nothing like a bit of sibilance) and Walker Books would reimburse my travel expenses. She asked where I live and told me that if I came into Victoria, then the offices would be two little stops away. Maybe if I was feeling brave and I wasn’t wearing heels I could walk it.
Sue said she would send me a conformation email (which she has, true to her word; an admirable quality) with some more information and directions. I thanked her profusely and told her I was off to do a little celebratory dance around the kitchen (yes, I actually said this. The shame. But she did laugh, which immediately made my stupidity more bearable. To be honest she seemed pretty impressed with my enthusiasm and childlike excitement!) We bid goodbye and I hung up the phone.
And I sat down quietly on the sofa, arms folded and eyes closed and gently hummed the national anthem. Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttt!
I danced around like a crazy fool and laughed like an idiot possessed. For a good half an hour. Only then was I composed enough to ring my Parentals, formulate a Facebook status and begin to write this post.
It just goes to show that when things seem utterly hopeless and frustrating and lonely, someone can ring you up and snap you out of your self pity and remind you that you are pretty great. That you do have something worthwhile to offer an employee, another half and the world. And if you try hard enough, if you knock loud and long enough, then the door will open. Seek and you WILL find.
I just need to remember to say thank you. And I will.
It must be a Thursday thing. Last Thursday was the amazing Penguin Books ‘Getting into Publishing’ open day in the Strand and this Thursday it’s an offer of a Walker book’s work experience placement. A placement I wanted so much. Like the Penguin day.
So the moral of the story is; do NOT give up. Because when you least expect something, it happens. It’s like driving with your eyes closed. Ok, maybe its nothing like that.
And at the risk of sounding like I have spent the entire evening ingesting an entire cheese board made up of the strongest and most odorous cheeses in existence; this is perhaps the beginning of things. At least I very much hope so.