• Lewis Stephens

The Road To WAYNE #1 - Lots Of Jobs

Before the 5000 mile UK coastal cycle tour on an extremely low budget resulting in the birth of the community podcast WAYNE check it all out online at (sorry that’s the only time I’ll do that probably) there were other stories, preludes that all played their part in digging the foundations of TheTouristDog. Before any great voyage you must be lost enough to justify attempting it. So here is why and how I felt lost enough to attempt to find my way around the UK.

Little warm ups, a summer in Europe here, a bike ride to Amsterdam there. Each one preparing me that little bit extra for the existential and unique bliss that comes from freedom, travel and bike touring. So before I begin posting TTDiaries; a post-match analysis of a 5000 mile cycle tour, online campaigning for a suicide prevention charity and what my little head was doing throughout, please enjoy in brief my journey beforehand. Over the next few posts follow along and get to know my ‘why’ better, and how I benefitted from unique experiences. The following ventures have (slowly) made me a more realistic, grounded and self-loving person however I didn’t realise that’s what I was after when I started, probably because if we all knew the answer we would never ask any questions, which would stop anything ever being invented, if no one asked if they couldn’t improve on the game Pac man, we wouldn’t have call of duty, if a monkey didn’t grunt at his mate whether it might better to throw a rock at an enemy when he’s not looking instead of running up to him making lots of noise, we would never have invented guns. Alas dear reader, with your intellect, and my attempts at storytelling, together we could make some breakthroughs on the existence and development of a young person in the modern age. Also I’m trying to build an online platform seriously now and I need likes and shares but seriously I hope you (like, share, go and tell your neighbour) enjoy and get something from this.

I suppose the point I want to make is that alternative, random, not normal experiences should be promoted as just as valuable as university, an apprenticeship, marriage, kids, mortgages or anything else expected of us as we grow up. Life seems like a random, beautiful, scary and testing journey…Why don’t we encourage people to get used to this? I’m just saying it might help to teach people to get used to this by going on random, beautiful, scary and testing journeys.

So before we begin please, let me welcome, present and deliver to you the writings which I am titling very now this second ‘the build up to the bike tour’, not quite as far back as stabilisers but a bit further on like 17 or something….

School Blog

A three words description of my time at school would probably be impress, disappoint and laugh (in that order) It was now over and my story could finally begin, the plan ran along the lines of me being a protagonist in a highly exciting, action packed comedy, an intelligent and strung out rebel with long hair who manages to front a band, save the world and enjoy every second, whilst looking great at the same time and being really popular. A modern day pirate who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Sailing the seven public transports from Carshalton to Cheam to Epsom I would travel. Parks to McDonald’ car parks, friend’s sheds to their spare beds, Box Hill to Guildford lido. Conformity was a curse, the world would be reminded of kindness, pleasure and the power of the people at the hands of Lewis Stephens. Small donations initially kept the upstart project alive, a tenner from mum here and twenty from my grandad there made train tickets, fast food and cannabis affordable luxuries . But after 2 years and 2 failed attempts at college later, park football was now pub crawls which required more funding, at 17 I needed work desperately. Now I am 24, which is roughly the same number of jobs I’ve had since then.

If a site like advertises it, I’ve probably done it. Pubs, clubs, kitchens, building sites, gardens, offices, big events, private houses, beaches, mountains, chalets, weddings, high streets. Pint glasses, wine glasses, gloves, helmets, phones, computers, cutlery, spatulas, ladders, shovels, shears, keyboards, hardhats. Shirts, aprons, boots, loafers, high vis jackets, name tags, hats, fully shaved, face masks, harnesses. English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Jamaican, Indian, Turkish, Kurdish, Italian, French, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese, German. Bending, pulling, stretching, staring, skiing, schmoozing, collecting, pulling, steaming, chopping, lifting, drifting, drifting… Drifting into a compliant, capable and skilled young worker on a conveyor belt of new responsibilities, soul selling and confusion. Hundreds of short friendships with new co-workers. I enjoyed meeting, swapping stories and laughing at the bosses with these people, a new world and type of human to interact with. Life was good to start with these minimum wage, minimum effort, minimum reward jobs.

Running parallel to the controlled carnage of constantly changing careers was a newfound freedom, freedom that floated higher and higher, melting my wings and plummeting me into a crevasse of self-pity, narcissism and minor addiction. When I was a teen I grew partial to ‘getting off my face’, the lead cause of some of my best (and worst) times to date. I developed a problem but not the weak, shaking, screaming intoxicated breakdowns like you see on TV drama shows (mostly) but in smaller ways like worry, regret, missed opportunities, confusion and screwing things up, then being ignorant to what was causing it, then being unable to relax without needing an aid. I was reliant on an outside influences for inside fun which altered my personality, and then to numb my worries about not having a personality, I would do some more. I was a silent about it all, no one knows if you spread your habits about, I didn’t even know it was happening. One night drink/smoke/take whatever, next night eat myself into a coma, then be glued to my phone for the next two nights, it was fine, by then id recovered and would go again. The point that I think is overlooked with addiction Is just how much it affects people, imagine every interaction, task or thought was secretly governed by an intense desire for a certain thing. This doesn’t just change them in that moment of craving, it changes every waking hour and the moment you become aware of just how much control you have lost, well then I sympathise with you, it’s scary.

In school we were told to be full of integrity. We were reminded the painstakingly serious starting steps we were taking to aid the rest of our lives, we were told the answer was down a few restricted and highly trodden paths. We were encouraged to dream as big as possible as long as those dreams stayed confined within the expectations of society. When you are certain those offered paths by school aren’t for you, then what? Your on your own, no more classrooms, lunch bells, asking to go the toilet, schoolboy comradery, detentions, your free. Oh sorry we forgot to teach you about how the world really is, you were supposed to slowly work it out on your own in a system that worked 50 years ago. Apps? Websites? Bank overdrafts? Sorry none of that.

Within a year of leaving I was working as many hours as I was smoking weed, drinking or anything else afterwards. The space between those hours that I suppose you could call ‘myself’ was becoming an ever increasingly distant friend who I had no idea what they were up nowadays.

So there I was, 17/18 years old, working at a golf club behind the bar when the boss comes in and is very sad to tell me she has seen CCTV footage of me and a friend taking advantage of the snooker facilities, “what’s the problem?” we innocently enquire before being told it was 5am, the pub had been closed since 11, who was paying for your drinks and you had work the next day. We had to leave that instant. Oh bluddy hell its happened again. So what do I do reader? Do I go for another minimum wage, minimum interest and minimum effort job? What would you do? If it was your child, what way do you encourage them to go? Get another job, try again? In the next few entries I’ll be explaining what I did and where it took me…

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