When I was 15 I thought I needed a job. Part-time work was available for teens in most retail stores for Thursday night/Saturday morning shifts. (This was back in the day when weekend trading was only permitted on Saturdays from 8am until 12md.
I went to my local shopping mall and walked from store to store asking if they needed a part-time sales assistant. I received about 30 rejections and was beginning to think I was very unemployable when a cross and grumpy pharmacist said he needed a new ‘casual’ for the chemist (drug store) he was managing and could I start next week.
The chemist was enormous and sold everything from drugs and chocolates to shoes and cameras. It had a photo station where customers dropped off their rolls of film and came back the next week to collect the prints. It also did ear piercing. I don’t know why but somehow I ended up piercing people’s ears with no training and no clue what I was doing. I do think I had the good sense to wash my hands before adding to my resume, ‘Ear Piercer’ but maybe not. Unsuspecting teenagers would wander in and ask if someone could pierce their ears and I would be delegated the job. I would mark the lobe (the fashion to pierce anything else hadn’t yet been invented), with a purple pen, then shake up an aerosol can containing some kind of freezing agent, spray the person’s ear, then put the studs into a little gun, position it on the ear and fire away. I never had any complaints but I guess the unsuspecting customers didn’t know what to expect.
I enjoyed the job as I got along with the other casuals but none of us got on with the pharmacist. He was always stressed and looking cross and he would stand behind his counter elevated on a wooden platform and he used his heightened position to look down and spy on us. He made sure we were always in motion. We were never allowed to stand still.
He used to smoke. At one end of his platform was a doorway through to a pokey, windowless storeroom and he would disappear into this room and light up a cigarette. Unable to resist a couple of minutes of spying, he would stand half-in and half-out of the doorway taking a long drag on his cigarette while spying, then turn his head and blow the smoke into the storeroom.
One day the pharmacy was really busy and people were queued up at his counter all waiting for their prescriptions. He was standing there oblivious to the developing crowd because he was extolling his wisdom on pharmacology to some poor individual because it used to make him feel very important.
I was walking past his platform when a customer asked me if I could check to see if her prescription was ready. I said, ‘Oh sure’. So I walked around to the other side of the counter and stood on the elevated platform and looked along the counter for her prescription. And I found it. I picked it up in my hands and was about to tell the customer I would just have it checked by the pharmacist to make sure it was right to go and then I would meet her at the register. But from out of nowhere I felt a whack on my hands and the prescription crashed to the floor. The pharmacist had physically hit me. Everyone standing around witnessed it, heard it and became silent. He screamed at me that I had no right to touch anything on his counter and that nothing was to leave the counter until it had been checked by him and to get back down to the cash registers.
Everyone was staring at me and watching to see what I would do and I was in such shock I had no idea. With the growing audience and dead silence the pharmacist realised he had created a scene and so he picked up the drugs, handed them back to me and told me to take the drugs and the customer to the register.
My hands and wrists were bright red from where he had hit me. All the sales girls gathered around me and asked incredulously, ‘Did he hit you?’ And I said, ‘Yes’. I avoided him for the rest of my shift.
As I was leaving he gave me my pay but he didn’t say anything about what he had done. I took it and left. When I was on the train heading home I opened up the clear plastic zip lock bag that contained the cash and found he had paid me double. The next week he asked me to see him in his storeroom. I went out to the smelly, airless room and he asked, ‘You didn’t tell anyone about the little extra I gave you, did you?’
Quite frankly, whether or not I had told anyone about ‘the little extra’ was none of his business.
The pharmacy was close to a fish and chip shop. I used to buy potato scallops to eat on the train on my way home from work. They were good but not as good as home made!
Twice Cooked Potato Scallops
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: A great inexpensive treat.
- 750g large old potatoes washed, peeled and sliced into 3mm (1/8 inch) slices
- 2 cups self-raising flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 cups water (approx)
- vegetable for deep frying
- extra flour
Dry potato slices and dust in extra flour. In a large bowl mix flour, salt and pepper. Add water and mix until a smooth batter is formed. Heat oil over high heat. When a drop of batter sizzles in the oil, dip potato slices in batter and add a few at a time to the oil. Cook until lightly browned then remove and drain on paper towel. Continue until all scallops have been cooked. Return scallops to the oil and cook until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt.
Serve with lemon wedges or tomato sauce.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found on The Australian Women’s Weekly website.
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