the North Americans
working at Selfridge's in Oxford Street were a unique bunch. There were only a
select few of us in the induction room, but we were, by far, the most
talkative, sort of, 'go-getters' of the lot. When I say, 'go-getter', I really
mean 'chatty Kathy-types'. The Selfridge founder was an American
businessman by the name of Harry Gordon Selfridge, so I guess it only seemed
right that I apply to work there. That and I had no other job prospects at the
I recall the induction (what we here would probably
call a 'training') as being more of an indoctrination and for almost 7 hours we
were treated to information on how Selfridge's Co. became the money-making
monolith it is today and how to keep it that way. It sure fostered my
commitment to the 'team' to learn that I, at six quid an hour, would be helping
to ensure Selfridge's earns somewhere in the range of one billion pounds that
financial year. Ugh.
Interestingly, the induction leader failed to mention that HG Selfridge, after
having lost his fortunes from both the crash of '29 and due to his
free-spending ways, died in dire straits in 1947.
Interestingly, the induction leader failed to mention that HG Selfridge, after having lost his fortunes from both the crash of '29 and due to his free-spending ways, died in dire straits in 1947.
|Harry Gordon 'There's no fun like work'. Selfridge|
During induction, I had been fortunate enough to sit next to a lovely man from Manchester who had just spent three years in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to London for work. He and his American partner intended to move back to SLC as soon as they were able. Knowing a little bit about Utah, I would think that being out and proud in Salt Lake would not work too well. The Mancunian found Mormons to be 'very accepting' people. I sure hope he's right. And, he told me, that there are lots of gay Mormons dotting the landscape of Utah. Safety in numbers.
Walking down to the employee locker rooms (where the wait-list for an employee locker was four months) after induction in a herd of other employees, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of a few nattily dressed young men (presumably from the men's finery dept., or whatever it's called). One was telling the others of a particularly thick-headed customer that he had been dealing with during his shift. The employee telling the story slipped into an accent that could have passed for American. Then, by way of making an excuse for the customer's denseness, he went on to say that the guy was from the states. Yes, that explains it all doesn't it?
I like to think that I did ole Harry Gordon proud when I reached out, tapped this employee on the shoulder and said in my Californian best, 'Nice American accent!' His friends fell out laughing while he mumbled something to the effect of: Oh, the shame!