Four or five weeks I'd waited for a job and then a chance visit to the caravan park office solved my unemployment issue. I can't remember why I'd gone to the office but the girl behind the desk said she'd tried to ring me about a job. Normally I have my phone glued to my forehead in-case it rings for work but the one time I didn't have it on me and I get a call.
It was weird to finally get a job.
"Shit, I don't have a job!"
Gets a job.
"Shit, I've got a job!"
The girl in the office warned me that the job I'd been given was very 'strenuous'. This strenuous job turned out to be spading. I'd not even been aware a job like this existed but when I started to tell people this was the job I'd gotten, everybody warned me about how hard it was.
So the initial joy of getting a job was soon replaced by outright fear. I didn't sleep a wink the night before I started the job. Me, a pampered office worker, was to suddenly be thrown into the world of spading. I tired to reassure my own brain with thoughts like "at least I'll get in shape" and "at least I'll be working outdoors", but my brain would usually scream back "you're too unfit to do this, you might die".
When the morning came, a new, grim 5:00am reality dawned on me. It was still dark outside and suddenly I felt like a boy on his first day at school. I stood outside some random building and waited for the farmer to come and pick me up in his van. The other guys were there, all banter and machismo, whilst I stood around trying not to look terrified. When the farmer pulled up in his van I crawled on and sat at the front with a lad called Chris. He was also starting his first day and so we chatted about all the small things to cover our nerves. I remember feeling like I wanted to be sick. What a great first impression that would have been? Chundering all over the farmer.
About half way through the journey the farmer said that he needed both a spader and a deleafer. He swiveled around on his chair and eyed up me and Chris. Chris is 6 foot 4 and built like a bear. And I'm not. Deleafing requires you to be nimble and good with your fingers. The farmer asked if either of us did martial arts, we shook our heads no, but I told him I was good at ping pong. Why I did that I will never know.
He told me I would be deleafing and I thought I'd won the farm work lottery. Deleafing is dead easy compared to most other farm jobs. You just swan about cutting leaves, how hard could it be? I was taken under the wing of a French guy who with his strong Parisian accent made everything sound dramatic and epic. I asked him how long he'd been at the farm, "too long' he replied. And so the day began and I started to deleaf. The guys told me not to worry about being fast, but just make sure I was doing it correctly. Great, I thought. Until the next day....
The second day and everything changed. The farmer bollocked us for not doing enough work the previous day and threatened to underpay us. Bit harsh I thought. He spoke to me like I'd been working on a farm all my life. Sorry mate, that privilege belongs to Yorkshire Water.
This farmer by the way. He's the antichrist with a cowboy hat. A genuinely terrifying man. He shouts, balls, complains, calls you a c*** 18 times a day. I had a big run in with him a couple days into working. We had to inject poison into these little sucker trees and I was given a gun to use. There were 4 of us and we all set off when it suddenly became clear my gun was fucked. It wouldn't pump the poison. One of the other fellas tried to help me but scurried off shortly after as he was worried about not clearing his own patch of work. This left me stranded and clueless. I had no fucking idea how to fix this gun. The antichrist wasn't anywhere to be seen and so I desperately tried to fix this piece of shit gun myself. Panic mounted but I managed to fix two tubes which the poison pumped through together as I couldn't unhook the one that was broken. I finally managed to get it working when I heard the screech of a van. Lucifer was back. He jumped out of his van and eyed up my invention. He then scowled and screamed about what a "dumb fucking idea that was". He shouted at me for a few minutes, I can't remember what he said but it involved calling me the c word a few times and I had to mop his spit off my face when he was done. What a lovely thing to happen to you at the age of 30...
Anyways, he did some farmer magic and sorted the gun out. He looked at me as if to say why couldn't I do this? Well unlike Satan, I wasn't birthed on a farm with a shovel in my hand.
When the day is done there is immense satisfaction. You've worked your bollocks off for 8 hours and everything seems right in the world. The farmer reverts to being a normal human being and you think to yourself that you might just be able to see this job out. This changed the week after though.
Getting up is brutal. Your alarm starts to ring and your'e just devastated. Everybody is depressed on the way to the farm. I try to get some extra sleep during the journey to the farm and kid myself that it's actually possible. Once you start work however, it's okay. The day moves along and before you know it, you're off home again. I try to pump as much shit as possible into my body to help me get through. I've got mars bars and energy drinks coming out of my arse.
Today is Friday and yesterday we had to smash a lot of acres deleafing. We were doing well but then the team leader said we would take a late lunch. This killed me off. I started to slow down badly and unfortunately some grass saw this and told the farmer. At the end of the day when we were heading home the farmer uttered the words I'd been dreading, "tomorrow Steve, you'll be spading". I felt aggrieved as I'd busted my hump all week and was getting better. Thursday night I considered my options, leaving Tully, going back to Melbourne, going somewhere else, going back to England... I'm not arsed about another year in Australia and I don't want to waste my last 3 months here being ordered around by the prince of darkness. He's already threatened to sack me numerous times and has made it clear I won't be given time to get used to spading. I have to hit the ground running...with a spade.
So this weekend I will have a mull over my options.
This traveling experience continues to surprise me, even in the harder moments it's still interesting. Whatever road I take I know it will continue to be a fascinating journey.