I’ve always been pretty good at getting up early. If I set an alarm, invariably I wake up a few minutes before it’s due to go off, and usually disable it before it wakes anybody else up. By disable, I mean fumble around with it in the manner of the most clumsy person in the known universe for a few moments.
This morning the alarm was set for 6am. An hour earlier than normal, on account of a rather special day in the life of Miss 18 – her first day of work in her first “proper” job (not counting working as a helper at summer activity clubs over the last several years). If you can say a career begins on a particular day, then this was day one – morning one – of her first career after school.
I looked in on her bedroom on my way to the shower, and discovered she was already up – sitting at her desk reading an email in her pajamas. A few minutes later she emerged from her room fully dressed in new clothes to find me cooking bacon in the kitchen. An 80s radio station recounted idiotic stories that made us laugh while we made coffee and bacon sandwiches together – they asked people to phone in with the most unlikely stories that had actually happened.
After a few minutes the rest of the family emerged from their various hiding places – no doubt summoned by the smell of bacon wafting through the house. Even the younger children appeared without the need for shouted threats, confiscations, or warnings of being blocked from the internet (the nuclear option, it seems).
While waving goodbye to Miss 18 a little while later, I wondered if she realises how momentous today really is. Of course we can look back with the benefit of hindsight, but in my mind you really don’t make your first “proper” friends until you get your first job. People you cross paths with while operating completely independently – away from your family and school friends. People you choose to become friends with.
There’s the whole money thing too – suddenly having disposable income – this will be Miss 18’s first job with a salary. We have already told her to blow her first few salary payments – to go mad with them, because she won’t be able to do that forever.
I remember disposable income. Oh, for the days when I could go into Oxford on a weekend and waste inordinate amounts of money on things I didn’t really need. Thirty years later and I find myself questioning absolutely everything – Do I need this? How much does it cost? Why do I need it?
The real world has a habit of bringing daydreams to a screeching halt. It happened this morning after waving goodbye to the rest of the family as they left for school and work, and then retrieved my bicycle from the shed to begin my journey to work. After leaving our road-end I approached a crossing where several school children were waiting on foot. I slowed to a halt in the middle of the road to both block cars behind me, and to let them cross. As I did so I heard the roar of engines behind me, and two cars sped past – accelerating past the waiting children on the wrong side of the road. Ten seconds. They couldn’t wait ten seconds, and were willing to make themselves look like thoughtless, selfish assholes in the process.
At least it’s Friday, hey. I wonder how Miss 18 is getting on? (I’m writing this at lunchtime)