I used to work for a soulless financial services company. It was one of those places that will give you an advance on your pay and charge you high interest. Constantly I had to respond to criticisms from friends and strangers. A friend even offered to give me money to keep my low-end retail job instead of working at the payday loan store. Yet for all of its negative aspects it was one of my favourite jobs.
It was one of the few jobs that I didn’t mind working on a Saturday night. Saturdays were quiet with a few scattered customers. I’d only have to work with one other person for a couple of hours and it was never my boss.
My day began with a brisk walk to arrive on time. Sometimes I’d call ahead to see if the other person wanted me to pick up lunch for them. After getting settled we’d chat about our day. During the summer my colleague would describe the pristine bay that the store overlooks. Calm and still asleep.
“Wish I could’ve been asleep this morning.” Ruth would say. “But at least I don’t have to close. Sorry.
“Oh, I think I’ll manage.” I would reply with a little smirk of delight. I was anticipating the great evening having time to myself.
From supper until close there were only ever one or two customers. After all, who would want to go to a payday loan shop on a Saturday night?
While other people were downtown enjoying a romantic meal or drinking to their friendship I was alone in my workplace with our little radio. Saturday evenings on CBC Radio 2 are always good for company.
I’d be working away on spreadsheets and other mindless duties but the sounds from that radio kept me from ever feeling alone. Somehow it always felt like the radio host was in the store with me, keeping me company. They’d even bring in the musicians whose songs were playing over the air.
As the night went on eventually the jazz show Tonic would start. Even though I was tired from the work day my spirits were never low. How can you feel down with the playful Oscar Peterson dancing on his piano keys? Listening to the smooth trumpet sounds of Miles Davis was my work song.
I was getting paid to listen to Ella, Louis and other amazing musicians. How could I hate that job?
I ended up leaving the job because the business took a turn that crossed my ethical boundary. Sure, I love what I do know. I still get to listen to CBC Radio 2 while writing papers and finishing assignments. But every now and then I remember those Saturday nights with a nostalgic grin and twinkle in my eye.