A new job, a new start, a new life.
One evening we were sitting in sullen silence in the pub, trying to make the beer we had last as long as possible. Someone finished their drink and left, leaving their local paper on the counter, so I listlessly picked it up and started to flick through the pages.
Suddenly I came across a small article about a local factory that was taking on more staff. “Here Judy, read that,” I said and passed her the paper. She read it, looked at me and said “Campbells? You don’t want to work for them do you?”
“Not just me – us!” I said. “Why not, we’re smart kids, and working in a factory can’t be any worse than the jobs we’ve been getting.” She was reluctant but had to agree that what we were doing wasn’t working. “Look,” I said, “they are holding recruitment events over at the Maid’s Head, what harm would it do to go along and see what they say?”
A week later we arrived bright and early at the Maid’s Head, to join a large crowd of hopeful people lining up for the event. We were taken in groups of thirty up to a room where we heard about the history of Campbells and the canning industry. Then we heard what the jobs were they were looking to fill, and the wages they expected to be offering. Next, we were given forms to complete, before having a brief talk with a recruiter. I thought I did well in my chat, and tried to impress on the guy that I was a hard worker, and wanted to make a new start now that I was a married man., He wrote some notes on my form and told me they would be in touch if they were interested.
After the event, Judy was quite excited. Having been skeptical at first, the talk about the jobs and the company made her feel that this was something that we could belong to. We went off to celebrate and ended the evening more like our old selves, full of enthusiasm, and we made love late into the night.
It had taken three long weeks before we received letters from Campbells, and we eagerly opened them. I had been selected to go to an orientation for the night shift, and Judy was invited to another interview to see if she was suitable to staff the office.
I was upset we wouldn’t be working together, but Judy seemed preoccupied and hardly made any comment about her letter. I asked if she was alright, and she immediately put on a smile and said that sure she okay. I was unconvinced but knew enough to know that she would say no more until she was ready.
My orientation was the next week, and then I had 3 days of training before starting on the night shift proper. My hours were 7 pm to 7 am, with two 15 minutes breaks, and a “lunch hour”. I would work 4 days on and then 4 days off so my actual working days would move forward a day each week. It sounded good, I could see myself using the free days for going to the beach and working on my car. It did concern me that Judy and I might not see each other as much, but, as I reassured her, it did mean that I’d be earning a good wage with the night shift premium.
So it was quite a few weeks after the initial interview that I started my first night-shift. It was tiring, but coming home I had a sense of accomplishment. Judy met me at the door when I came in. I immediately sensed that there was something different about her.
She brought me a cooked breakfast and sat while I ate it, saying that she was not hungry. Just as I was telling her about what I’d been doing that night, she suddenly excused herself and rushed to the bathroom, where I could hear her throwing up.
I went and stood by the bathroom door, and she soon appeared, white-faced and shaking. “OK,” she said. “I was waiting to tell you something until I was sure, but I guess I might as well tell you now. Come and sit with me – no, not in the kitchen, let’s sit in the bedroom for a minute.”
I was getting worried and sat holding her hand. She took a deep breath. “Tony, I know we don’t say it very often, but I do love you. So here’s the thing, you know how I’m normally as regular as clockwork, well I’m late, and now I’m getting morning sickness.
“Honey, I need to go to the doctor to confirm it, but I’m pretty sure I’m pregnant.”
She looked at me with something like fear in her eyes. We had not talked about having babies, it had never come up, and I thought I’d always been careful. Then I remembered the night after our interviews, and how we just couldn’t wait for anything. It took a moment to take it all in.
“We’re going to have a baby?” I said at last.
“Yes, Mr. Anthony John Platt,” she said, “I really think we are.” She looked at me and smiled shyly. “I saw how you were with Ruby’s Lucy, and I think you’ll make a great Dad. If that is, you decide to stay around.”
I had no idea how I should feel, or how I actually did felt. After my scare with Maggie, I had vowed to myself that I’d never be in that situation again, but this was different. Judy and I were married for one thing, and for another, it felt so right suddenly to be a working man, providing for his wife and child.
“Mrs. Judith Mary Platt,” I said, “I love you dear one, and I will love our child even more. Of course, I’ll stay, I don’t want to miss any of it.” I took her in my arms and felt her tension relax. I had said the right thing. Whether I meant it or not, I wasn’t sure, but, at least, I was going to give it my best shot.