This week I final­ly earned my first Pounds ster­ling. For the time being, that mere fact is more impor­tant to me than the quan­ti­ty of pounds, which is a good thing. I have nego­ti­at­ed com­pet­i­tive­ly about this job, which is why my income is now below the min­i­mum wage. The job is in a shoe shop at 10 min­utes cycling from our house. It is a small shop with most­ly cheap shoes. I work there togeth­er with the wife of the own­er, Agnes.

My nat­ur­al inter­est in shoes is not so great that it will bring me far in this job. For­tu­nate­ly, I can com­pen­sate this with a win­ning smile and a high effi­cien­cy when search­ing for shoes in the back of the shop.

The High Street is also a place where you can get insight into the lives of peo­ple who live here. Espe­cial­ly the women who are out shop­ping on a week­day with a stroller, tow­ing one or more tod­dlers with them. Agnes says that girls often get preg­nant while they’re still in high school. If you are unem­ployed and have no edu­ca­tion, a child is the way to get more ben­e­fits — whether you are sin­gle or have a rela­tion­ship. For exam­ple, you get the right to own a home, and child ben­e­fits. In Eng­land this effect con­tin­ues to increase with a sec­ond, third and fourth child. Of course the chil­dren them­selves are the vic­tims, because they grow up with an unsta­ble mother.

It’s good to be out of the house dur­ing the day and speak to peo­ple. I have no idea how long I will do this job. The own­er con­tin­ues to search for a per­ma­nent employ­ee, and I keep look­ing for a job that I have stud­ied for. Until then, the shoes will keep me busy.