It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.
Chris Hedges

Saturday, July 10, 2004

The Job

Dear Fellow Travellers:

To my mind the earning that one has to do to survive has very little to do with the satisfaction received from the doing.

I began working at a McDonalds when I was fifteen years old. A hamburger cost 20cents as did the fries and a small drink. I earned 90 cents an hour and specialized in toasting the buns...Yes, I was a Bun Man.

McDonalds was fun in that the $80 a fortnight earned went towards those things that drove the interest of a typical 15-year-old, girls. We had terrific after-hours parties during which we poured Southern Comfort down the throats of girls to get them to take their pants off. I only succeeded once.

In truth the girl was semi-unconscious at the time but I took her murmurings to be assent as I struggled to pull her pants down as far as her knees. Unfortunately, she chose that moment to retch all over the both of us. The sound of her retching rallied her girlfriend to enter the room and she backhanded me off the bed.

McDonalds was a good place to work. Since then I have had many jobs: I pumped gas, worked as a shipper/receiver, was a sailor - then a soldier, was an order desk clerk, salesman, marketing assistant. I studied at a Polytechnic and after receiving my degree worked as a switchboard operator. I became a construction laborer, concrete finisher, security guard, education officer, communications manager and campaign manager.

I chucked it all in to become a carpenter. That lasted a couple of years before I worked as a teaching assistant, maintenance manager, stair maker, dock hand, forklift driver, shunt truck driver, dock foreman* (after 30 years of working I was fired for the first time after I grabbed a peer by the throat and threw him over a desk). I worked at two more jobs in the Transport Industry before moving to New Zealand.

I have only been here two years and I started off as a house painter. Then I sprayed gorse, pampas grass and ginger. I taught computer basics and finally have landed a job as Project Co-ordinator for the Te Uri o Tai Resource Centre here in Pawarenga. I actually job-share the position with a lovely girl named Max.

Perhaps everything I have learned takes me to this place, at this time. I'd like to think so anyway. I don't make much money - indeed I have to plow through reams of paper to secure the funding to keep paying myself. But, I can pretty much do what I want to do when I am not putting out the community newspaper, Te Karere. I am part social worker, part teacher, part communications man. I have big plans for this job, but you never know. I have to work and I will have to continue to work for the next 20 years or so.

Through all these jobs I figure I earned close to a Million dollars. I have about $50 dollars in my chequing account and $4.97 in my savings account. So what does working mean in the end?


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