Two jobs for a bit

Paula found it difficult to tell the shop manager that she could no longer work on Thursdays. She had been working only on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, for four pounds fifty an hour. This was less then what “the british government considered enough for an adult to live on”, according to the benefits literature. Without considering rent. Yet Paula’s boss sounded surprised she had managed to find another job.
“Oh. So you can not take Thursdays off to come here?”
Paula could not know if he was joking. This was a serious job, paying well above what “the British government considered enough for an adult to live on” plus her rent. There was no way Paula would prioritise the shop that was not giving her enough to live on. It would not be long before Paula would leave the job in the shop altogether. Working seven days a week, with not a single day off, was all right while she paid off the arrears of her rent, but once that was done, Paula decided to take a weekly rest as normal people did. She would miss the contact with the shop that she continued to believe to be related to fair trade, but at least she managed to keep in touch with Lisa. They even had dinner together some times, and Lisa introduced her to some of her own friends. Paula admitted to herself – not to Lisa, though – that she was not interested in Lisa’s friends that much. She could not understand her English friends, and the Spanish ones would eventually leave London. Paula had learnt as much. Maria had stayed long enough; longer than all the other friends she had introduced to Paula. But she too had left. As had done the students who had allowed Paula to use the internet in their university. Paula learnt to have friends who would eventually leave and was not keen to have that many of them.
Of course it was different with Luna. She had known her from before London. That was as good as knowing some one from a previous life. And Tilda.

El metro

en castellano más abajo

Paula was not too displeased about having to commute regularly now, unlike most of her co-workers. She was even more pleased about being able to afford it, and not to having to decide any more whether to spend two hours walking, one in the bus or half one in the tubes.

Now the office was an hour away by tube, which according to conversations with other people in the building was more or less the average that most of them were spending under ground every day, twice a day, first to come to work and then to return home.

And what she liked the most, although it was not happening too often, was to be able to listen to good music, courtesy of musicians who simply got there and played here.
Whenever she heard one, Paula made herself comfortable against the wall, if it was not too dirty, discreetly so that nobody, especially the musician in question, would realise that she was listening attentively; she closed her eyes and enjoyed the mixture of sounds, music, hurried steps, quiet steps, the PA system announcing something useful or reminding not to leave baggage unattended, the background music, the train approaching on the tracks in the other direction, the sound of doors being opened, the PA system, “Mind The Gap”, the background music, the crowd getting out of the train, “Mind The Gap”, the crowd changing platforms, the sound of the doors closing, the PA system again, and the background music constantly, and Paula remembered Joaquín Sabina, who had begun his musical career singing songs of Joan Manuel Serrat with a guitar in the London Underground.
Then her train would come, and this time the din muted the singer-songwriter little by little until they could not be heard any more, and Paula carefully put a pound coin in the artist’s hat to then run to the nearest train door, before it got closed it down, and she she went going away with the din, leaving the music behind.


A Paula no le disgustaba del todo tener que desplazarse siempre en metro, a diferencia de a casi todos sus compañeros de trabajo. Más le gustaba poder pagárselo, y no tener ya que decidir más si pasarse dos horas caminando, una en el bus o media en el metro.

Ahora la oficina estaba a una hora en metro, lo cual según conversaciones con la gente de su edificio era más o menos la media que se pasaba toda la gente bajo tierra cada día, dos veces al día, primero para llegar al trabajo y luego para volver a casa.

Y lo que más le gustaba, aunque no pasaba demasiado a menudo, era escuchar buena música cortesía de músicos que simplemente se ponían allí a tocar. Cada vez que oía uno, Paula se acomodaba contra la pared, si no estaba demasiado sucia, discretamente para que nadie, especialmente el músico en cuestión, se diera cuenta de que estaba escuchando atentamente, cerraba los ojos y disfrutaba de la mezcla de sonidos, música, pasos apresurados, pasos quedos, la megafonía anunciando algo útil o recordando no dejar el equipaje desatendido, la música de fondo, el tren que se acercaba en las vías de la otra dirección, el estruendo de puertas que se abrían, la megafonía recordando el hueco, la música de fondo, la muchedumbre saliendo del tren, cambiando de andén, el estruendo de las puertas cerrándose, la megafonía otra vez, y la música de fondo constante, y Paula se acordaba de Joaquín Sabina, que había empezado su carrera musical cantando con una guitarra canciones de Joan Manuel Serrat en el metro de Londres. Luego llegaba su tren, y esta vez el estruendo acallaba poco a poco a los cantautores hasta que no se les oía más, y Paula ponía con cuidado una moneda de libra en el sombrero del artista para luego correr hacia la puerta más cercana del tren, antes de que se cerrara, y ella se iba con el estruendo dejando la música atrás.