Selling your life in chunks for money - Tactical Ninja
Dec. 10th, 2013
09:50 am - Selling your life in chunks for money
We just bought a new mattress. As it turns out, mattresses are frighteningly expensive. However, our old one had two distinct hollows in it where we slept, and I was waking up every morning with lower back pain from sleeping in a hole.
Now, I'm waking up every morning with even worse lower back pain because I've developed a sleeping position to cope with being in a hole, and it doesn't work at all when on a supported flat surface. I am hoping I will adjust over a few days, but when I'm having to take voltaren and paracetamol just so I can get dressed, it's a bit beyond a joke. I just want to sleep well and have no pain in the morning. Especially when I have sheep to shear tonight* and I couldn't do adagio last night because my back didn't want to bend at all.
For ivonava, I was supposed to write about my first job. "Easy!" I thought. But then I thought some more, and I realised I couldn't pin down my first job that easily.
Was it the first time anyone paid me money for sustained effort on their behalf? That would be sweeping wool for the neighbours' shearing when I was about 14. I had no idea what I was doing - they just handed me a garden rake and went "Go to it." It was noisy, smelly, hot and boring** and the only interesting part was the shearing. That, I found mesmerising. So mesmerising that I kept stopping to watch it and failing to deal with the wool. Oddly enough, I wasn't asked back.
Or, was it the first time I had a responsibility to someone else for doing work, and they gave me something in return? Because also aged 14, I spent one school holidays looking after a herd of stud Red Devons while they were calving. I had to ride out morning and night to check on them, make sure they had water, shift them if necessary, and check for calving troubles and record any new births. For this I was given a horse cover, a swanndri and a bridle that could be adjusted to fit any horse, from a shetland pony to a Clydesdale. I still have the bridle.
Or was it the holiday job I had when I left school, working in a fish and chip shop at a surf beach, where rich people from Auckland spent their holidays in those days? I did it for a month and gave myself a permanent scar cleaning the milkshake cup dispenser one day. All the lifeguards tried to date me because I was fresh meat, and I learned that it really annoyed me the way people asked for things:
"I'll have 2 fish and a scoop of chips, thanks" is just as annoying as "I'll have a hamburger and a caramel thickshake, please." I suspect this may have had more to do with me than with what people were saying. I've never enjoyed taking orders, and to me every order I took sounded like they felt entitled to assume I would do whatever they said. This was true, they were entitled and I was getting paid to take their orders after all, but at 17 I resented this a great deal. I don't think I was cut out for customer service, eh?
Or was it the first job I had out of formal education, which was breaking in horses on a farm at Maunganui Bluff (incidentally the one next door to Alan Titford during the trouble that happened up there. He was as much of a wanker as the media makes him out to be, just saying). That job I did for my room and board and grazing for my horse and the occasional bit of money when we sold one, and it kept me off the dole in a town where proper work wasn't really available to an 18 year old young woman with a big brain and a bigger mouth who just wanted to be a shepherd.
Then there was my first actual job, like, permanent one. I got that after having been on the dole for long enough to qualify for a subsidy called Job Plus (where the government paid half your wages for the first 6 months to help get your foot in the door). I got the job after going into the job centre again and again and being told "Nothing for you today". I got pissed off with being told I was unemployable, and one day I marched out of the office, grabbed three suitable-looking jobs off the board, got back in the queue, and told them I wasn't leaving till they referred me for something. They referred me for all three, I was offered all three. I picked the one that looked the least onerous.
I worked as a florist. Yes, you read that right. Me, arranging flowers. I even got training. I can make funeral sprays, buttonholes, wedding bouquets, posy bowls, those weird things you see on graves that look like an upside down fishbowl, corsages, hand-tied bouquets, and dried arrangements. I understand about form, line and colour-matching in three dimensions. I know how to make cut flowers last, and hardly ever have them in the house because I think they are a waste. Also, it cemented that I am not cut out for public-facing service work***. I just can't lie well enough, and that gets me in trouble.
Anyway, I got made redundant after 18 months. They extended the subsidy to a year, and then they kept me on for another 6 months, but it was Dargaville and there wasn't enough florist work to support my wages, so I was unemployed again. For about 5 minutes till they built the new freezing works. Then my career really took off!
Uh. I might be lying about that. But from there, I was never really unemployed again. I had a few patches of being on benefits or partial ones (most notably the DPB after having left my husband) but I had the ability to do casual labour of variety of different kinds, so I managed to keep being paid for something right up until I got my first proper salaried job, which was at Taratahi Agricultural Training College in Masterton, teaching strapping young farm lads how to shear sheep, use chainsaws, drive tractors and build fences. Here is a list of jobs I've had since the florist:
Knife hand in a freezing works
Farm skills tutor
Youth course tutor (at risk youth using outdoor education as a medium)
Employment skills tutor
Whatever the hell it is I do now - Special Duties (mostly analysis, reporting, policy stuff, some technical writing).
So, um, yeah. I think that about covers it.
* For some reason shearing doesn't make it any worse. It just makes it hard.
** I ended up doing this job for many years, on and off. It got less boring once I understood what I was supposed to be doing and was able to strive for perfection in it.
*** Speaking of customer service, yesterday at Tony's Tyre Service I actually felt oppressed by it. The guy felt the need to repeat to me several times the list of 'extra' things they'd done for me while fitting two tyres and doing an alignment (free balancing for all wheels, tyre blacking), then got me to sign a form that basically said nothing but "The customer is always right". He insisted on swiping my card for me through the self-swipe eftpos machine, and giving me instructions on how to use it. And then walking with me to where my car was, asking me about my day. I was monosyllabic by this point because, they are tyres. A necessary evil that you buy, you pay for, then you leave. And for me, the best customer service in this situation is to let me get on with it, with minimum fuss. It was suffocating and I just wanted him to go away. Also, it took 15 minutes to do a 5 minute job.
Please, less customer service!