When I left school at the age of 15, my first job was as a telephonist in a motor dealer’s showroom. There I learned of men that take great joy in embarrassing and upsetting young and innocent girls. I left after only a few weeks.
The interview for my third job, as a typist for the Ministry of Defence, was taken sitting on the lap of the older man who was to become my boss. There was a lot of inappropriate conversation from the men working in that office too, but by then I had learned some valuable lessons from the elderly gentleman in whose lawyer’s office I had my second job.
It was just mere days after my 16th birthday when I met Mr. D. He was the epitome of a true gentleman. Soft spoken, but as tough as they come. Dressed impeccably at all times, he would hold the door even for a junior receptionist such as myself.
The office equipment was as old as he was. I can’t remember if my typewriter was a Royal or an Underwood but I do recall that the date was on it was 1896. My first task was to learn how to strip it down clean it and rebuild it – a dirty task that had to be done at least once a week. On this old, old machine I had to learn accuracy. Whichever key you punched, hit the paper and if it was the wrong key, I had to restart the letter. There was no room for errors in that solicitor’s office – you can’t backspace and white-out was not allowed. Every letter had to be 100% correctly typed. Punctuation and grammar were essential and every legal document had to be proof-read three times by three different people.
Mr. D. also liked some ‘new inventions’ and audio typing was the next form of terror in that office. Correspondence was recorded on a floppy disc. Not the discs that eventually became computer storage many years later, but literally a thin, floppy, circular piece of brown plastic about the thickness of a piece of paper. The words on the disc sounded as if they were being spoken underwater and you had to listen to everything three times before you could understand it. The discs were supposed to be re-usable, but every new recording was layered on top of the previous and after about 10 uses was totally undecipherable!
It was here that Mr. D. decided to take me under his wing. I can’t spell. My best spelling score at school was three words correct out of one hundred words. From the age of 2, I was an avid reader with a large vocabulary but my mind simply cannot slow down enough to work out how to break down the words into their component parts. As a typist I was eventually able to touch type at 90 words per minute with 100% accuracy and I came to the conclusion that my eyes saw the words and my hands typed the picture of the words. My mind was not involved at all. Recently, I have discovered that this is not far from the truth. I have total aphantasia, and this affects the way I process information.
My lack of spelling skills became woefully obvious when I started audio typing. Mr. D. was tough. At the end of each day I was required to take into his office all the work I had done that day. He would read through each document and if it was 100% accurate he would sign it. If I mis-spelt a word, used a comma instead of a semi-colon, had a typing error, he would draw a line right through the document with a red pen. Spelling errors were entered into an index book he held specifically for this. If the same word re-appeared three times, I would have 50p deducted from my wages. As I was only earning £4.00 a week, that represented a major deduction. I also had to stay behind after work and re-do all the incorrect documents. My time and My money were involved in My education! I became a quick learner. I learned the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, between affect and effect, stationery and stationary and much more.
One time, tired, disheartened at a whole heap of mistakes, it became too much and I dissolved into tears. That was when Mr. D. let me in on the reason he was so tough. His words made such an impression on me that they have become one of the guiding lights of my life. He taught me that everything in life is a sales job. He was tough with me because he sensed I could travel far in this world if I could only understand my worth and show the world that I am worthy.
He taught me that every single thought, word, deed and action needs to be done with consideration – because someone else is always watching, listening and judging. He taught me to always think of life as a job interview, that I need to always portray myself in the best possible light, to be the impressive person I would like a future employer to see. I needed to learn to ‘sell’ myself as I wanted to be seen.
Basically, he taught me how to recognise the energy in the words we use and the things we do, almost 50 years before my Spiritual Teacher taught me the same thing. He taught me that if I use swear words, drink excessively, smoke, disrespect my body with indiscriminate sex and drug use, then the person I hurt the most is myself. Not only do I hurt myself, but I am also sabotaging my potential. He asked me if I could look up to someone and trust they had my best interests at heart as a leader, guide, teacher, if they cannot even be respectful to their own Self?
I was 16, just stepping out into the wider world of the 1970’s with its sexual freedom, drug use and revolutionary music. I was watching friends who had had babies at 13 years of age, sinking under the weight of their reality. I had a friend with anorexia who hated herself so much she starved herself to death. I was discovering alcohol.
Mr. D’s words made a huge impression. To the point where I still say a-ffect and e-ffect. To where I find I simply cannot respect someone who consistently pulls their energy down with their language use. Yes, I have had to modify that somewhat – terms like ‘sod’ and ‘bugger’ are soft words now in this world of indiscriminate ‘f’ words and ‘c’ words coming out of the mouths of babes, and I am saddened when I hear of everyday things fucking. “Where’s the fucking towel?” “You’re such a fucking c***” I do occasionally have a laugh at the thought of fucking shoes or similar!
It’s not the words themselves that are troublesome even though they are ugly and do carry dense energy – it’s that these are the visible result of the lack of respect that humans have for other humans – and for their own Self.
If we cannot have respect for Self, how can we grow?