Tony asked what she’d been doing during the three years since leaving university.
‘I haven’t actually had a full-time job since then,’ she admitted. ‘I spent nine months or so job-hunting without success then I decided to travel – backpacking with a friend.’
‘Right,’ said Jamie, ‘Tell us about that.’
Mel told how, after a week in Singapore, they’d moved on to New Zealand for more than a year and then to Australia. She described how they’d lived in hostels and paid for their stay by helping out at the hostels and working in bars. She said how she’d have loved to get a permanent place there, but she didn’t fulfil the immigration requirements. Tony asked whether she’d been able to take many photographs while she’d been away, and she said she’d taken several media cards full that he’d be welcome to look at.
She concluded by saying how working in a camera shop was the closest fit to what she wanted that she’d encountered.
‘I’m sorry, but I can’t honestly say that it would have been my first choice,’ she admitted.
Jamie and Tony looked at each other and laughed.
Mel pushed her chin forward and her lips moved up to cover her teeth. Her brow furrowed as she looked from one of them to the other, expecting them to tell her that she was not what they were looking for.
‘Listen, Melissa,’ Tony said, ‘if working here would be the first career choice for someone with your qualifications and experience, I’d be amazed. Look, I’d love to offer you the job – I’m sure that Jamie will agree with me.’ He looked at his son for confirmation. Jamie nodded, laughing.
‘Before we start talking about things like pay and conditions, let me say that, if you do take the job, we won’t be upset if you later find a job-opportunity that better meets your hopes. We will, however, try to give you every chance to learn what we do and to enjoy working with us as a member of our little family business.
Tony then explained that the vacancy had come about because Lucy, his wife, had agreed to help look after her Elaine, her infant granddaughter – the child of Jamie’s younger sister, Tracy, who would shortly be returning to work full-time after her maternity leave. Much of the time, Lucy’s mum and dad would be sharing the baby-sitting. Tony’s parents had also offered. Lucy didn’t want to put either set of grandparents to a lot of trouble though. They were all of them in their seventies and needed to have time to enjoy their retirement.
Tony went on to say that the starting pay would be a bit higher than the statutory minimum wage level because they’d want her to arrive half-an-hour before the shop’s opening time each morning to help process any overnight stock deliveries.
The ‘I’s were dotted and the ‘T’s crossed and Mel, having accepted the job offer, had agreed to start in her new post the following Monday. Before she left, Jamie asked her if she’d like to have a look round to see what they did. She immediately agreed that she’d like to do that.
He started by introducing Mel properly, and as their new employee, to his mum, Lucy. Mel was surprised to see that, in addition to conventional cameras, they sold some high-end unlocked smartphones and offered some interesting photo-tours – often to promote key camera brands. Jamie told her not to worry over the weekend about starting her new job, because her first few weeks would be regarded as training.
She couldn’t wait to get home to tell her mum and dad that she had proper job at last. She’d be able to contribute to her keep and she could start reducing her credit card bill. The news would also delight her dad, who never failed, each day to ask what progress she was making with job-hunting. It wasn’t that he was tight-fisted, but he was concerned that, at her age, she had nothing to show prospective employers that she was worth giving a chance.
I’m on a roll now with those photos from Crosby Beach, so here’s number three. I hope you like it. Like the first two, I took it using my 36 MP Pentax K-1 full-frame camera paired with a 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens. I liked the ripples in the beach where the tide had only recently retreated and the evening Sun retreating behind the Irish Sea wind farm.
The EXIF data are as follows: Shutter speed 1/10 secs @ f/10 and 24 mm. The ISO was 100. The shot was tripod mounted.