Wednesday, 4 December 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Sink or Swim

Tell us about a time when you were left on your own, to fend for yourself in an overwhelming situation — on the job, at home, at school. What was the outcome? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us PERSEVERANCE.

Small stream on the borders of Feldbrunnen-Solothurn

Can I swim? Of course, any fool can swim. If you throw a dog into water it swims and if you throw me into water I swim as well, just like a dog can swim: no more and no less, providing that I can reach the  bottom with my feet and I do not have to do a special stroke. Doggy paddle is my thing. I was never brilliant at school in swimming and only learnt it when I was 11 years old thanks to dad. He would take me to the local baths on Sunday morning, to get me out of mum’s way when she was cooking lunch: a delicate work on Sunday morning. I was equipped with inflatable swimming wings clamped around the top of my arms and there I was; probably the oldest in the pool with these stupid orange wings, but who cares? The main thing was that I learnt to swim. There was a problem however. At the same time it was the annual swimming gala at school and I was an ideal victim for the beginner’s width.

There we were all lined up in our wonderful stretchy sexless onesie bathing costumes standing at the side of the pool. It was then that I realised we were expected to jump in and swim. Up to this point I had already been in the water, after descending the ladder. Now I was expected to literally take the plunge, so what could I do. There was no-one there to push me, I had to do it on my own and I did and swim the entire width of the pool. When I arrived at the other side a teacher pushed a red ticket into my hand and told me to go to the desk at the side of the pool. It seems I was second and to prove it I had a ticket. Big deal dad, we done it: my first and only swimming achievement at the age of 11.

As far as fending for me is concerned, I was a single child, no brothers or sisters so I was mostly doing my own thing. I arrived in Switzerland after travelling on the night train and boat across the channel on my own. I met Mr. Swiss on my own and married him on my own (although we had two witnesses to make it all legal). I must admit afterwards I was rarely on my own, with four children to raise.

One day the children had to attend school, Mr. Swiss was a working man and I was on my own at home. I decided it was time to do something and I found a job. I was on my own again working as an export clerk, taking responsibility of shifting goods around the world, mainly the Far East and it was fun. I enjoyed being at the deep end: it was packed with suspense. I received an order from the customer, fed it into a computer, the goods were packed and I organised the shipping, often by airfreight. There was a financial side to be settled. Payment might be just by open invoice, but if you did not know the customer and he was in a country where the government changed every week or there were uncertain conditions, it was a bank thing: perhaps a Letter of Credit or Cash against Documents. That was really being at the deep end, fulfilling the 
conditions required and having the documents completed according to the demands of the documents. 

Parallel to working without a floor under your feet, there was a household to be dealt with. Extra jobs such as cleaning windows and bathrooms had to be fitted in at the week-end or…… when Mr. Swiss was on a business trip. It was part of his job, not often, but now and again. He did not mind going but was glad to be home again. And me? I did not mind him going actually. Then the housewife monster came out in me. I did not have to take him into consideration whilst I was wiping tiles or removing curtains for the washing machine. I could do it when and how I wanted to, after all I was not in the way and the kids were by then doing their own thing and did not need mummy looking over their shoulder. Either they were engrossed in loud music or trying to conquer a cyber-world with a joystick guided plane.

I think I am an addict for doing it my way, it prevents boredom. I learnt Russian for ten years on my own, did a web assistant course and passed the examination on my own, and joined a couple of computer courses on my own. My days of schooling are now over, I like to remain free and do what I want to do. I was attending Tai Chi classes for a year, but decided to stop. I no longer yearn to jump in at the deep end, my adventurous days have gone, although I have never attempted a bungy jump. Mr. Swiss looks worried I think I will come to a close.

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1 comment:

  1. I can't really think of anything with this one. I have done many things in my life on my own, and never felt overwhelmed or out of my depth.