I was 16 when I first got a Saturday job in Boots. My schoolfriend Simone and I joined at the same time. She worked in cosmetics, I was in the record department. I became very popular with all my mates who’d come in on a Saturday to browse the albums. A few months in I was asked to train in the cash office (upstairs!) to cover for the team there on their breaks.
I remember gazing in fear at the 72 switch Monarch telephone switchboard and wondering how I’d ever master it. But with patience and guidance from the lovely ladies working there, master it I did.
As well as looking after the switchboard, all the cash from the store was bought to the cash office throughout the day, to be counted and then banked. Pay packets were put together there too – I used to get my pay in a small brown envelope – don’t worry it was all above board!
One Saturday afternoon I was on my own in the cash office. One of the department heads had delivered some bags of cash and I was about to close up the shelf to secure the office. There was a small box under the shelf. I didn’t know what it was. In any case, I obviously caught it with my hand.
Next thing I knew, store manager Mr Laycock, along with one of the store detectives and a police officer stormed through the door. ‘Are you OK?’ asked Mr Laycock. I had no idea what was happening, as I couldn’t hear the alarm going off on the shop floor. It seems I’d set off the panic alarm.
The next words I heard impacted my career for ever afterwards.
‘Well, you’re OK. And to be honest we needed to test the alarm anyway.’ Said Mr Laycock, the kindest manager I’d ever worked for.
He could have shouted at me, sacked me, criticised me. But instead he chose to be kind. It was never mentioned again. I worked there for a further 4 years during the holidays. Happy times.
Thank you Mr Laycock.