“I bet you fucking love your job, don’t you arsehole?” It wasn’t a rhetorical question; at least I didn’t take it that way. After the police had escorted the waste of valuable oxygen into the back of a paddy wagon I thought about what was posed. Do I love my job? To answer that I needed to go back and review what I wanted to be in life, what I wanted to do with my life and that would lead me to an accurate answer.
I’ve never really known what I wanted to be. If you asked me at the age of about 5, when I was first asked, I’d have probably replied that I wanted to be a firetruck. Not a fireman, but the vehicle itself. I grew out of that about the same time as Marc Bolan got into a mini and met a tree. Eventually I graduated to wanting to be a fireman but I developed an entirely rational fear of being burnt to death after seeing the Poseidon Adventure and Bambi. So you can blame Irwin Allen and Walt Disney for beating that one out of me. I’m sure I’m not the only person over the age of 40 who still has nightmares of that forest fire. Indeed I’ve seen actual bushfires that haven’t scared me as much as that bloody cartoon. May Walt’s head burn in whatever cytogenetic chamber it now resides in. Later I wanted to be a number of things but really I had no ambition other than getting the next round of books, insulting teachers and devouring comic books by the pallet. Words were, and still are, my life. Hence I decided in about 1984 that I wanted to be a writer. I had no idea what kind of a writer, but I wanted to write. About a billion rejection slips and multiple rip offs by publishers hasn’t beaten that out of me. Yet.
I knew what I didn’t want to be by doing it. I knew I didn’t want to be a telemarketer after I was kind of forced to do it for a few months back in the mid 1990s. Well, I say forced, but then the strong desire to eat solid foods more than once a fortnight can do that to a person, especially when the government gives you just enough money to pay some rent and utilities. When I wasn’t depressing myself listening to Pearl Jam or killing neighbours with Nine Inch Nail CDs I wasted time being one of those annoying bastards who’d phone you at home during the day in the attempt to convince you that your roof was covered in pigeon shit and thus about to collapse in a screaming heap and devalue your only serious investment for life. I gave it up after hearing once too often about how we’d just cleaned the roof in question and only sparrows and the odd cat had been on it since. Oh, and when they asked me to work nights and weekends, for pittance mind you – base rate was $8.50 per hour (as a pal of mine pointed out at the time I could make more sewing buttons onto trousers in a tin shed) plus commissions, which were only good when sales were recorded – I gave it away. I do feel some sympathy for the many minimum wage monkeys who call from India on an hourly basis and I generally attempt to keep my insults to the barest mentions of what Sachin Tendulkar and Harbijan Singh do in the dressing rooms, however at times I do lose it a but. Multiple phone calls from 7pm to 9:30pm will do that to a person. Here’s my best hint from those days: if someone phones you about renovations/home improvements, tell them you’re renting, even if you’re not. That gets them off the phone faster than a bomb scare.
For ages, off and on, I used work for a few people and help with debt collection. I used to get into the mood by listening to Max Q songs. Work that out, Freud’s of the world. I’ll say no more about that other than if someone knocks on your door wearing all black with gloves and a rather sizable piece of timber, either run really fast, call the cops or resign yourself to your fate. Don’t be a hero and start a fight. It only prolongs the agony.
I worked at McDonalds. Seriously. Stop laughing. It was fun at times. I worked one Christmas Even from 5:30am through to 4am Christmas morning. I got paid a bucket of cash, got to dress up as Santa Claus, got drunk and managed to locate a filthy creature who had a red costume fetish, all this roughly twenty years before the movie Bad Santa. I was a pioneer in those days. I have some fond memories of those days, getting stoned with Ronald McDonald and Hamburglar in the toilets before he rushed out screaming “HI KIDDIES!!!” Never a truer word was ever spoken by that clown and, well, oddly enough I developed a Hamburglar fetish for the same reason as the filthy girl with the Santa costume did. Luckily for me Hamburglar wasn’t a dude and had a good collection of Spandau Ballet and Queen albums. I remember a guy who used to wash his feet in the pickle buckets as he felt that the acidic nature of the juice would fix his fungal infections. I saw a guy who, once he was given two weeks notice, spent ever morning happily masturbating in the cheese container. More than once a day actually. Saw the usual spitting on the grills and on the burgers of people who complained. I will say this, the McDonalds training videos are brilliantly funny and more true to life than the kitchens themselves and anyone who has ever worked there should recall it fondly. The videos showing people what not to do are templates for what can happen. And does. Great stuff. Any time I eat Maccas now I’m in a state of denial. It’s easier that way. There’s always other memories, good friends that I made, encounters in stock rooms and drive through booths. Piping Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath into the dining rooms over the PA system. Playing Van Halen on the roof. Sitting on the same roof watching the sun rise on a summer day, watching and hearing the city unfold below us, dew evaporating and the sweet sounds of bird song and watching girls doing the walk of shame past the early morning joggers doing their walk of life. The one guy who stole so many boxes of cookies that he was able to fill an entire room. He never ate them, he just liked stealing them. I gave that job away after we were shot at one night and the manager decided to leave everyone to fend for themselves while he locked himself in the cool room. I managed to get people to safe places, alerted the police via our duress buttons and locked the cold room and left the fat prick to stew for a few hours. That was enough for me.
I did physical work. Worked in foundries and factories. The foundry was horrid. Hot. Damn hot. Molten steel, sparks – if the whole gay steel works image springs to mind then I’m not surprised. There were a more than a few people who batted for the home side than not. I gave that up after a nasty encounter with someone’s lunch. The factory, well that was a bust. I injured my back and went through a long rehabilitation which put paid to me working there ever again, let alone the same industry. Damn good thing too. The romantic vision of Jennifer Beals in a welding helmet just doesn’t exist outside of a bad Adrian Lyle movie.
So what did I want to do with my life? I had no idea. What I didn’t want to do is be a social landlord. Having said that now that I am in that role I am enjoying it a little too much. I won’t go as far as to state that I can’t envision doing anything else because clearly I can. I’d love to be a full time writer, but that’s not going to happen until I make enough money to retire and not worry about who’s paying the rent and where the food is coming from. I do know I’d rather be doing what I’m doing, for as limited a time as it might well be, than anything else at this point in time. It could be worse. I could be Simon Clime. I could be on Jerry Springer, shirtless and beating the living suitcase out of some fat redneck over a Brian May special. Worse yet I could be a security guard on Springer or some related lower intellect show vainly separating whole sized wig wearing salad dodgers while they attempt to smother each other with various items of clothing and bodily parts. I could be working for the CSA or our Federal cousins in the dole office, both positions carry just as many risks, the later probably more, than what I do right now. I don’t want to work in a fast food place, nor do I have any desire to work in a factory lifting heavy machinery and waiting for the day when my knees of tissue give out and I’m crushed beneath a large vehicle.
I wanted to make my mark on the world and with my published works I’ve done exactly that. I’m semi-famous, more infamous, in certain circles and I’m afforded some respect from fairly famous people. That means a lot to me. In real terms I have achieved what I wanted to do. I could expire tomorrow, even today, and honestly say that I’ve not any regrets. In fact I’d have regrets, if I could remember them. I’ve made my mark, physically and otherwise, so in that regard I’m content.
I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing right now. Seriously. I’ve seen the other side of the fence and I know what it’s like. I know exactly how difficult it can be. I’ve not seen the struggle, I’ve lived it in more ways than one. If I can make one person’s life a little bit easier then I’ve done my work for that week. So all the people who like to come in and abuse me because they don’t get exactly what they want, hey, go and take a good look in the mirror. Then ask yourself this: if you were on my side of the fence and had to deal with you, anti-social behaviour, warts and all, would you help you?
Probably not. I know there’s been times in my life where I wouldn’t have lifted a finger to assist the likes of me. So get that epiphany, take some responsibility for your life (here’s a hint – if your life is crap then it’s no-one else’s fault but your own. No-one wakes up and says, “Hey, let’s stuff that dole bludgers life up some more,”. Nope. Your life is crap because you don’t pay bills, think that the world owes you a living – it doesn’t – and like to abuse people in an attempt to feel big. Two words – get stuffed cretin) and become a better, and more useful person. Then, like me, you’ll be living in a decent place, listening to tunes on an IPod, writing on an expensive laptop, – both of which are fully paid for - getting ready to have a nice evening with good pals and just enjoying the sunshine.
That’s why I’m enjoying my job right now, because I’m enjoying my life. It may not last, it might not always be like this, but for the time being I’m gonna milk it and keep riding the waves. So yeah, I fucking love my job so go and chew on that for a while you ignorant mouth breathing peon.
What about you?