I don’t usually watch too much TV because the menu is basically stinking shit. Rarely I can find a film without ads, or some interesting documentary, and at the moment Spanish pay per view channels are not as good as Americans, thus at the moment I won’t pay for TV, I’m not so interested in soccer and sports in general, and I prefer paying for watching movies online or at the theaters. However sometimes before watching a series or something on my own, I usually switch on TV, also to remember the reason why I don’t actually watch it, and it takes me more or less 2-3 minutes to realize. Well, last night I found out Harry Brown was broadcast, rough story.
Most British drama films based on people’s miseries, a quite common realistic genre, quite exploited, take place in low and poor areas, and the atmospheres depicted are decadent, depressive, dysfunctional and usually deeply marked by domestic violence, addictions, unemployment…
This film reminded me of another drama named Fish Tank, and the location for the story, Chadwell Heath, a suburban area of East London.
Ok, and why am I talking about this place? Well, because I used to go there from Monday to Friday for 6 fuckin’ months to work at a huge industrial laundry named Sunlight.
Even though for many people autopilot jobs are easy to handle, with a fixed shift, including a horrible alarm to tell you to get the hell out of the place, with no big concerns nor responsibilities and your wages on a (weekly in this case) basis, it was a horrible nightmare to me.
How did I end working there? Well, that’s the typical story of a lazy girl who thought there were lots of job vacancies in the middle of July, instead of looking for something at the beginning of the season, as the rest of the world usually does. Obviously all the fast food restaurants and cafes were full, and my boyfriend was working at this place where there was a free spot for me, so I accepted, thinking that’d be a temporary job until I was coming back to Spain to resume my studies, with some cash in my pocket. That was my initial plan, but it changed.
Thus, from October to February I worked for this horrible company. The bosses were so damn ignorant they thought I was required a work permit, so I was treated like a low profile immigrant, and it took me several weeks to get my wages paid.
Whenever I watch these movies I was mentioning before, I remember people working there. Only the old ladies used to treat me kind and with respect, feeling interested in me as a human being, and not as an overalls folder. People in my age regarded me as an exotic freak, thought they were superior and never tried to mix up or befriend me. I never had a beer with any co-worker during that time. My beginnings in the big city were tough, boring and frustrating.
My first days at the laundry were depressive. People used to speak in that cockney, close and insane accent that I love now, impossible to understand at first, with all those gottal stops, and people saying /’mait/ instead of /’meit/ and pronouncing f instead of /θ/ as in /’maefs/ for maths and /’faenks/ for thanks. They used to laugh at my accent, wondering why I had such a posh style, and how I had learnt it.
I realized that cultural classicism actually exists, when you trying to create some boundaries and get closer to the youngest people, asking for their music taste and other hobbies. I never asked about music because we were listening to Kiss FM everyday and stuff was crap, and I could see they were consumers of radio hits, so I didn’t bother to try, but tried to approach a girl, Kelly, asking her about literature. Her reply was astounding: ‘Oh no! I’m not into reading because I find it very difficult and it’s very hard for me to understand. Reading is for posh and old people’. Enough said, huh? I threw the towel and went on with my life as the misfit at the factory, except for the old grannies who were absolutely adorable to me…and were readers.
Thus, I was surrounded by guys who only cared for soccer, the pub in the corner and the page 3 Sun girls, and by girls whose main target was to find a boyfriend and get married quick, waiting for the weekend to go to the mall … and the pub.
I didn’t feel like judging them. I was just shocked we were so different, and for the first time since I was 11 I couldn’t fit in particular environment, and even though I didn’t want to be part of them, I was having a bad time for being so isolated. I was a minority. At the end of the day, it’s all about socializing, communicating and exchanging ideas.
6 months I spend working for Sunlight, feeling bored and alienated. I was assigned as supervisor of a hanger machine, and was allowed to use the industrial irons for the aprons, because I WAS SMART! Honestly, at some point I thought my brains were shrinking. Thank God I had a calendar full of shows to attend, and books to sink in which made me forget about that shit.
Can you imagine how I felt when I got a job downtown and handed my resignation letter to my stupid drunk boss? That was winning Lottery!
I don’t regret that time though. I reckon it t was one of the greatest lessons life taught me which made me swallow my youthful pride, and start seeing things in the real way.
Fuckin’ Sunlight Services! Last time I was in London I saw one of their lorries and I almost puked. UGH!