Trip Start Mar 01, 2009
23Trip End Dec 21, 2009
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So Down Under! What a different experience to the rest of my travelling! A time of my life I will never forget and some friends who I hope I will never forget! I had my reservations about coming over here to be honest - I really didn’t want to find myself in the British/Irish backpackers who have just left school and all they want to do in binge and sun worship scene and luckily until my arrival into Cairns where I pretty much managed to land myself slap bang in the midst of it all I managed to escape it all! I had no plans for Oz apart from fly into Sydney, maybe stay there, maybe head up the east coast and get a job at some point. That was about as good as my plans got until the week before I left NZ and a friend from South America sent me a link for his friends band from the UK who were touring Oz at the time. I miss- read their website, missed the fact that I would have been in Sydney for their last gig and somehow got it stuck in my head that I would only get to see the band if I went to Melbourne so I got in touch with a few friends who also happened to be in Melbourne and booked a flight
Had a spectacular flight into Sydney over the harbour bridge and Opera house and then proceeded to sit in the domestic terminal of the airport for four hours waiting for my connection! Arrived into Mel, not sure if Laura (a friend I made during the NYT play in Dublin a few years ago who I hadn’t seen since) and her boyfriend John (who I hadn’t met yet) would be at the right airport to pick me up as I’d made the mistake of not realising there was more that one airport in Melbourne and so had just said ‘see you at the airport.’ I had when at Sydney emailed Laura specifying which one but having no contact number had to rely on her actually checking her email. So it was with some trepidation I arrived into the shed that was Melbourne’s Avalon airport. I had managed to get myself a lift with a very generous NZ lady who I had been sitting next to on the flight on the likelihood the others wouldn’t turn up but as I was leaving the shed otherwise known as baggage collection hall I saw Laura and John and was immensely relieved!
My first view of Melbourne was coming in over the harbour bridge, after midnight. The whole city was lit up and looked magical
The first two weeks of my Oz adventure were a little trying. I needed a job and a house ASAP and it wasn’t happening fast enough. In the end I arrived for the last song of the Passenger gig that had first given me the idea to come to Melbourne (not my fault) and it was great to go and meet the band but I was glad I had other reasons to come to Melbourne aside from the final song of a friend of a friends band who played in some little hotel bar in a very inconveniently located part of the city! Hence I got there for the final song. That and the woman in the box office who was clearly highly misinformed about the whole occasion.
On the way home from the gig I lost my last $2 in a stupid vending machine which was the final straw of a stressful few weeks. All I wanted was a packet of crisps. I cant remember where I had other money tied up but it was certainly the final $2 I had at the time and was starving.
I bumped into another friend from South America who I knew was in Mel but hadn’t yet arranged to meet up with. Second time I’d randomly bumped into him. Had originally met Nick in Cusco in Peru and then after months of lack of contact bumped into him at a drum and bass gig in Buenos Aires and then again in Melbourne central as I came out of the bank! Such a small world. Anyway the meeting with him and his subsequent firing the following afternoon from his job was the catalyst in his decision to move north to Darwin in search of seasonal work which left a very attractive offer of a room to lease in one of the most popular spots in Melbourne at a very reasonable price. It was too good to miss out on and so after a quick inspection and a coffee I decided to take it.
The house in St.Kilda looked more like it needed knocking down than it did having 6 people living in it but it was disarmingly charming and inviting, with its cracks in the walls, leaks, lack of light bulbs that worked due to water in the electrical system, a back door that didn’t shut properly, 2 dogs and the permanent feature of a particularly large pile of washing up
And then came the job - I don’t even know what to say about it. It was possibly life influencing (almost changing but I like to reserve that for things with a wholly positive changing influence), completely different to anything I ever thought I’d find myself doing and now that I’ve left and continued on with my travelling I thoroughly miss it and the friends I made through it and because of it. Door to door sales. Don’t laugh. It was hilarious though and still it - the thought of me doing it. It sound horrendous and it was at times. Especially those in the rain. The time I put my feet into plastic bags and then more socks in an effort to keep them dry as I was determined not to go another 10 hours with wet feet sticks out in my mind as a particularly painful yet amusing memory
The idea of a commission based job which involves being out in the elements in Melbourne in the winter and attempting to sell energy to the most worked market in Australia and I would imagine one of the most worked (door to door wise in the world) seems terrifying. The thought of a 6 day week and being responsible for our own earnings and work ethic and most painful of all being a sales person just isn’t a very appealing prospect. Which is why I turned down the job. And the next ‘marketing’ job I was offered. And the next. Finally I got a call from this English guy and agreed to go to an interview the following day. I put the phone down and suddenly realised I had no idea what he had said the job was.
I was then half an hour late for the interview. I’d got to the area with plenty of time and walked to ‘Park St’ as instructed. Only the Park St in the next suburb over. So by the time I walked into the interview, stressed and not knowing what to expect and then I found out it was doing the exact same thing as the previous job I’d turned down I relaxed and thought to myself well even if I don’t get the job as I arrived half an hour late and am completely inappropriately dressed I’m not going back to do exactly the same as when I told the guy to go stuff his job as there were more important things in life than simply making money
So life in sales wasn’t as bad as I had previously thought it was going to be. It was somewhat like living in a little bubble for a few months. The sort of bubble you knew you were in and although you had ideas of popping it and although at times you knew being in that bubble possibly wasn’t the best thing for you, it was quite a nice bubble and the people you shared it with were the best and the fact that you knew you would one day leave the bubble and return to the real world sort of made it ok and allowed you to enjoy the bubble and all it’s creature comforts for the time being.
To explain in a little less abstract way - the first few weeks I was in the company I really struggled to get my head around it. Sales. Commission. Sales people. Friends who were arrogant. Friends who were plain egotistical narrow minded males. ‘Friends’ who punched you in the nose with a phone book and thought it was funny when the scab stayed there for a week (that’s a story for another day!) but also some amazing people who I hope will stay as life long friends (not the phone book bashing, egotistical ones I might add.) As it was a commission job training was far more stressful than if it had been a run of the mill bar or office job. It was difficult to learn fast enough and I didn’t have time on my side to get good at it. Luckily I didn’t need it as after my 2 week trial I suddenly got the hang of it and thought hang on this whole commission thing isn’t too bad after all! I can do this! But for the first month I struggled with still wanting to look for a ‘proper’ job and a more dependable income and regular hours and all that
The weekends were hectic, my life non stop and the weekdays flew by. Got promoted so was training other new people and occasionally others in the office and learning so much from doing so. Got a sales award for outstanding sales at the Victorian Mid Year Rally for the Cobra group which was the international umbrella company for the office I worked at and then came ‘Ghetto.’
Now I’m not going to go into the fine details of this on my blog but it can be requested as an anecdote when I do eventually get home. So basically this challenge had been running in the office for a while before I joined them and it was that the first 12 leaders to get promoted in a time frame were to be taken out around Melbourne in a stretch hummer limo for an hour and then VIP into an exclusive club in the city
What a night - the limo was awesome! We drove around Melbourne for an hour taking in the sights and allowing people to take in our sight too. What a load of fun. Such a tough life - being a packpacker. The past 10 months and then this thrown in on top. Far too much to deal with - how do you expect one little person to deal with all these hardships in life!!!
Melbourne was all lit up and looking as radiant as when I first arrived, champagne in the limo and friends all around. Not a bad way to live life! Unfortunately the club aspect of the plan didn’t go down quite as well as hoped. Jit the little idiot got out of the limo, bottle of cider still in hand and we happened to be right outside the club we were on the list for. Apparently having a bottle in your hand is not a good look when trying to get into an exclusive club in the city and so we had no option but to look elsewhere. Now I hadn’t worn heels in about 9 months and after a friend located a seemingly suitable pair it transpired that after walking around looking for a new venue was not ideal. On closer inspection in the morning they were not a pretty sight. I won’t go into detail as I want to leave stomachs unturned but it resulted in my limping for quite a few days even when wearing slippers!
Another few weeks of work slipped by unnoticed and I began to become aware that I ought to start thinking about making some plans. I wanted to get back over to NZ to see Gisele who had stayed on there working and see a few other friends but it was all beginning to get a little bit expensive and time for the East coast was being shortened with every day spent in Melbourne. I was then walking to work one Wednesday with my friend Jit and trying to explain to him how I’d woken up that morning and just knew everything was about to change - it was like things had been building up and decisions were about to be made for me and things were going to completely change. He sort of looked at me a little strangely as if I’d gone even further off my rocker and we continued on our walk.
The following morning however I was in the office when the owner of the company Ben called me into his office and asked how much longer I was staying in the company, I said well another week definitely and perhaps another one but I need to make some plans. I presumed he’d just forgotten and needed the dates for his diary. I was wrong
Needless to say it was a rather stressful few days. By lunchtime on the Thursday I had 6 people lined up to see my room on the Friday morning with half an hour intervals before I had to go to work. I had my room rented by Friday afternoon and was organising to say goodbye to everyone. Saturday came and I still wasn’t packed. Saturday evening came, the new guy moved in with all his belongings and I still wasn’t packed. Went back into the office for the last time, grabbed Jit, headed home and still wasn’t packed. By 8.30 between us we’d managed to shove most of my stuff into an assortment of bags and everything else I left in the house with instructions to go to the salvation army shop across the road
A far more successful way of ensuring you are up in time to get a early flight in the morning is to go out the night before. This is tried, tested and proven.
Left our usual Saturday night haunt at a reasonable 6am and headed to the airport. Got on the bus and dozed off. I woke up to an announcement a while later. Jit was fast asleep on my shoulder and I had this strong feeling that we had just arrived somewhere and it was important and we HAD to get off the bus. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what or where it was though. I then had the bright idea of opening my eyes and then remembered - the airport. Shook Jit awake, grabbed our bags and sort of fell in a big heap out the doors of the bus before they closed and brought us with them. It was all a bit of an effort getting through check in and immigration but we made it and then a very nice lady was handing out free samples of Jagermeister and Red bull in duty free. She seemed a little upset that at 7am on a Sunday morning no one was very interested in helping to empty her tray. We felt a little sorry for her and so obliged and helped lighten her load a little. Hoping to set a good example to the others in the departures lounge. We then got an equally hung-over phone call from Ben who was on the Gold Coast and flying into Wellington half an hour after us. He couldn’t remember what flight he was supposed to be on, what time it left, from what airport or what airline
I was just about to sit down and fall soundly asleep when a little blonde head appeared wrapped around my waist with a cry of ‘Ciara.’ A short confused moment occurred before I realised it was Amelia, the little girl from the family myself and Gisele had been living with in Hawkes Bay months before hand. What a small world. The whole family were on their way back from Bali on a connecting flight from Melbourne to Wellington. What were the chances of bumping into anyone I knew on a flight from Oz to NZ? Slim! But it happened! It was wonderful to see them all again and I promised to go up and see them before leaving the country.
Met up with Chris and Ben in the airport, Ben looking slightly worse for wear and limping a little after the taxi incident. We found a hotel and being the only one with an un-maxed out credit card after the weekend I had to do the honours!! What a good example the one running the company and the other setting up his own office in NZ set
The week started off well with corporate breakfasts by the river front as we entertained the client or they entertained us - not entirely sure but it was all a bit of a surreal novelty and again the hardships of being a backpacked mounted up as the decision between a full fry or eggs Benedictine became a bit too much. It was then hours of product training in an amazingly super environmentally ‘smart building.’ It was mesmerising. Basically when ever the building sensed it was too cold it would automatically open the blinds to let more sunshine in or open the windows to allow fresh air in or I swear close the blinds when I was beginning to nod off distracted by the stunning views out over the harbour. It was an insane building where walls opened automatically and the lights went on when you walked into a room. Made out of 75% recycled material it was an experience just to be in!
Worked hard for the two weeks I was there. Became makeshift receptionist for the office along with working hard out in the field and then in my second week training the new people. We got a great crowd in and so it was less of a chore training them as opposed to some of the delinquents we got in for training in Melbourne who you just knew weren’t going to last. Except the down side to that was more newly made friends to say goodbye to at the end of the day.
And then that penultimate day came. A particularly windy, hilly one but between me and my new person we smashed the sales out with a personal best (PB) from the new girl and a weeks PB for myself as I picked up team bonuses for the first time as well as all the usual ones so it was a good end to a short but successful career in sales. My very last day on Sat I was just doing my usual stand in reception bit for a few hours after a stressful morning of packing which I didn’t realise I had to do quite so early. Saying bye to everyone was sad but was keeping it professional until Tyler sprints down the hall in front of a few perplexed people there for interviews, grabs me, picks me up and spins around the corridor. Much to the contempt of the other grumps sharing the floor with us who I’d been doing my best to negotiate with for the past 2 weeks about the level of music coming from our office and other ‘unprofessional antics.’ Eventually with both feet back on the ground, I adjusted my skirt and hugged the rest of the office goodbye as they filed out the door and into the lift
My work was done and after saying bye to Jit and Ben as they headed to the airport to head back to Melbourne I headed to find Elliott an ex employee of the company in Melbourne who was currently in Wellington and we went in search of a large cooked breakfast.
It was with a heavy heart I got onto my bus to head up to Hawkes Bay and away from the previous few mad months of work. Almost immediately my way of looking at things changed and I was back in reality. The bubble had burst. I was excited, daunted and happy to be back on the road but sad to leave the previous few months behind with my friends and security. Still it had been an experience and if I stayed another 3 months it would still be the same experience. Instead there were new experiences ahead, new people to meet and new fun to be found and had. It did sort of feel like when I left home for the first time in October though. I knew I was excited but the more immediate feelings of loss for that feeling of security and an enjoyable lifestyle/social life were strong and sometimes it’s hard to appreciate the excitement fully when your travelling on your own.
However I thought about it logically and reasoned that if I had not left in October then I wouldn’t have had any of the amazing experiences that I have had over the past 9 months and nothing would have changed significantly in my life and I wouldn’t know half the people I know now and so I pulled myself together and suddenly knew the next part of my travels would be just as amazing.