It was “Career Opportunities” by The Clash that was playing in my head as I was sent in to see the school’s visiting Careers Officers. Jobs were enemy talk, The Clash had taught me that any job was just to keep the unemployment figures down, or just there to keep you out of prison, therefore making the government look good, which of course was a bad thing. Really bad, and I didn’t want to be involved. I just wanted to be left alone to be a Punk because Punks were, well just Punks. As a stroppy 15 year old I still hadn’t understood that jobs were sometimes something people also did in exchange for money, and that money could pay for records, gig tickets, t-shirts, guitars, badges and whatever else you might be interested in. I thought all jobs were rubbish and I didn’t want one. While I was sitting in the careers room, looking suitably bored, we were given a questionnaire to fill out about our O Level choices and our interests out of school, I was interested in punk music and I wanted to be in a band, I should have just left that section blank. The two “Career experts” at the other side of the formica table asked me if I had any other “hobbies” (Hobbies?!!!) I said “No” because I was utterly taken aback that these “experts” considered Punk to be some sort of hobby. A “hobby” was like jigsaws or knitting it wasn’t how you talked about a way of life, I bet they didn’t call being a nun a hobby! Anyway Punk wasn’t some sort of lame pastime, it took dedication and discernment; from listening to records, to customising jumble sale finds, swapping cassettes with friends, reading the music papers, making sure you were in to watch Top Of The Pops – it was hardly a hobby. It was obvious to me that these people just worked for the government and exactly like Joe had warned, they wanted to use me to improve their statistics. They tried to muster an enthusiastic smile as they handed me a leaflet about the Duke of Edinburgh Award, like I’d never heard of it, I already knew about the times when all the DofE girls packed their Kagools and spent most of half term trekking around the Lake District in the fog and came back all rosy cheeked and waving certificates. “Nein Danke” as it said on my European “Nuclear Power – No Thanks” badge.
“They offered me the office, offered me the shop
They said I’d better take anything they got
Do you wanna make tea at the BBC?
Do you wanna be, do you really wanna be a cop?
Career opportunities, the ones that never knock
Every job they offer you is to keep you out the dock
Career opportunity, the ones that never knock”
3 thoughts on “Career Opportunities”
I love these essays. At that age I was pretty much fated to working in crap fast food spots (an excuse to piss about with other punks and interesting people, as well as get up to all sorts of mischief) and then graduate to working in a record shop. It’s still pretty much the only job I’m qualified for! (but I can fake some other stuff)
Thanks Andy. Are you still in fast food?
It’s a long time passed, good gig for a kid kicked out of school and wanting to avoid the war of mismatched coupling that passed for parental at home. Other punks, drugs when they were in the innocent and fun phase, and it did widen my world, with co workers from Haiti, and in general from outside of the scrubbed (on the surface) suburbs I lived in. I used to steal from the stock room all the time, give to homeless, bring stuff to punk clubs. I remember one day bringing McDonaldland Cookies to CBGB and slamming on a floor filled with cookie crumbs! Years on, worked in all the record shops from Tower on down (in NY) but I never made more than at the fast food joint. Not to praise fast food too much, and a postscript is that’s where I turned vegetarian!