"I had to feed off the uncertainty and doubt of my future to make stuff happen instead of let it cook me."

A New Start

This is one of those stories that I’ll bet, most people cannot say it’s happened to them. There is a difference between being fired on bad terms from a job and being let go for simply under performing. I was the latter and how I managed this particular latter at a job considered by many a bottom of the rung, is an interesting tale. 


You see…


It all started when I had aspirations to move from the comfort of my warm Australian home to the stark cold of the land of Britain. 


Life was very good at home. Good variety in temperatures all year around, a family who loved me, and a job that provided me a lot of fulfillment. I even had a nice car to drive. I lived in a small city which was just big enough not to know every face, yet small enough to meander the town with a familiar sense of community and home . My social circle was just beginning to thrive after consistently attending to the same church over the years and I had my hobbies to occupy my spare time.


I did not leave because of a dissatisfaction for my country, quite the contrary. I weirdly left when things were good all around. With a previous taste of England still at the back of my mouth from a holiday just 6 months prior I decided I needed  the challenge of moving abroad and a mission mindset instead of the casual goal achiever that I was comfortable with at home. God would be my the light unto my path and I dreamed I would come out a different person for the best.


Fast forward to February 2016, and my one way ticket saw my feet land on my final destinations soil. I was armed with a suitcase and rucksack hugging my shoulder and I was abound to an arrangement to live with the hosts of a AirBnB until I could assemble my life together piece by piece. It was difficult but I took it in my stride. This silly mission was kind of enjoyable to wake up with the challenge to start over and start on the path to English civilization from the ground up. I had to feed off the uncertainty and doubt of my future to make stuff happen instead of let it cook me. 

A Lot to Answer For

As the cups of tea were drank and the job applications flew around the internet I eventually landed a not so dream job at McDonald’s in the heart of Bradford. I am not sure the time it took to achieve the breakthrough but as with any job search when you are desperate, there are days that the rejection gets discouraging. There were times I didn’t do any job hunts because I instead switched things up to exploring my new surroundings. This moment was exciting on one hand. It brought a sense of contentment to have been considered more seriously and I looked beyond what the job may entail, to the flexibility now on offer with the money working there would provide. 


There was an interview, then a rather lengthy food and health safety quiz, a paper work follow up appointment and eventually my first day. I would work the “quieter” hours from about 17:00 to midnight while I got familiar with the expectations of the job and could get to know the people next to me. I was surprised to find people there for all kinds of reasons. Most were young people for first-ever jobs, some were 20 or 30 somethings who had worked there for years and climbed the ranks quickly into leader roles and even a senior man who I believe came looking for a job after being laid off. He needed the money and was not quite of retirement age. 


And then along comes me. An Australian guy in his mid twenties. 

“Wh…Why are you here when you could be there?” – 

“Have you got family here or something?”

Some would ask.

“Why have you come to Bradford, of all places?”

“Australia has a lot of spiders, right? Is that why you moved?”


The questions were persistent. It was clear to everybody else, I had a lot to answer for. People could not understand the logic. 


I remember feeling then and often to this day a bit saddened that people of assorted ages around Bradford do not think much of where they live. No sense of pride or optimism for their home city. Where I came from there were of course, people who were never happy with the patch of grass they occupied. Always looking across the fence. Blame was upon somebody else for the way things were and they could not lift their eyes off the ground to see the blessings they had in front of them. The majority, however, loved the little place of Mount Gambier. South Australia had a great number of terrific people. It had quirks yet character. It was full of people who loved to be able to say they were from the south east for this and that reason.

Not Your Typical Aussie

Learning this job was a major shift in my wheelhouse. It surprised me how much a fish out of water I felt that I was there. I would be on probation for 3 months before I would be given a solid contract with more hours, and so it begun. I had never worked in a kitchen job. The environment was fast paced, the work area was small and crowded, and I underestimated how stifling hot it gets back there, The accents and slang were another factor that were hard to understand and mine to them was too. 


I also do not fit the typical Australian stereotype when quizzed on certain things about experience as an Aussie. The typical one, from what I gather, is loosely somebody who makes friends quick and easy, surfs on weekends, only speaks bbq, confident, uncouth and pagan with jokes, broadcasts their accent loud and clear to ears of others and tanned because all that time we spend under the sun and on the beach. 


The truth is I am barely any of those things. I am not a surfer, tanned, ultra confident in front of others, I tell jokes sparingly and my accent is actually kind of subtle. I am however a quieter person with less to say. I struggle with a speech problem which has shaped my world from a kid and is why I am reserved to talk much. I do better with one to one interactions. I enjoy test cricket, discussions about theology and philosophy, play video games for pleasure and writing for the art and discovery of it.

A Mcnugget of Difficulty

One month went by in the job and I had learned to appreciate the skill and speed of the employees that worked here had. It may of “only been a McDonald’s Job” but they deserve credit for their craft. They had a comprehensive knowledge to know how to save time around the kitchen and move around to cultivate the food orders without any wasted energy. This was the busiest restaurant within many miles and close to a football stadium which added the pressure on game day from hungry fans. 


Kids much younger than I, would try their best to teach me the ropes of what looked so calm and full of operational flow. The small work space meant a lot of brushing past and bumping into others all day long which didn’t seem to bother anyone except me. I found myself saying sorry a lot and focused on the manners of peoples personal space when it probably was a moot point. 


Back in the kitchen, people seemed to have a knack for making an order while looking up at the screen to prepare the next one. It took flow, which I hadn’t much of. Memorizing how certain things are made are a huge advantage and time saver but there were few that I could. Sure, there were good days but I couldn’t keep up the pace most the time. 2 months went by and people started noticing. The customers and most importantly my superiors. 


I was given a shot at the tills… for a few hours. Even when assisted with somebody next to me I failed at that too because when it came to customers paying in cash, I had to pause and stare at the currency to read how much it was worth. The coin shapes I was naturally unfamiliar with being used to Australian Dollars and Cents. Oh Dear,

I'm Not Mc'lovin This Up

And so I didn’t make it. 

I knew something was up with the store manager one Saturday afternoon shift when he could not look me in the eye or entertain my light conversation starters with him. Firing staff is never fun and I imagine he was going over in his head what he would say to me as the day went on. I would later learn that my time was up after a brief conversation in the office and that this would be my final shift for under performing.


The beeping deep fryers, ringing order machines and the expectations that people want the ‘fast’ in their fast food got the better of me!


It’s a funny one and what more can I say. I am still grateful for how it bought me extra time to get me to where I am today, 4 years on and still living abroad with a family now. So to the staff and management at Bradford Forster Square, I say thank you!


I made it out the other side with a new job shortly after which better suited me and the benefit of a new perspective that there are no jobs beneath you. The stigma that certain jobs carry is unfortunate. People wrongly assign pity to somebody’s job status when in reality they could teach you a thing or two or are navigating a  circumstance individual to them while they figure out life. 

Take-Away Lessons

1) There are no jobs or people beneath you

2) Praise those who work with skill – No matter the job

3) People can teach you stuff

4) You are not owed success. Knowledge is power

5) Being bad at one thing doesn’t make you bad at everything

6) Live risky. You are worth far more than your job title


L.C Rabbetts

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