Slave to the wage: A pom at work

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November 20th 2009
Published: November 25th 2009
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Where I be at yo

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1: My cycle to work 90 secs
Hello again! - It's been a while hasn't it? Don't worry, disaster hasn't struck me (yet) nor have I run off with a Jillaroo into the outback; But I have been taking a breather from writing after laying my hat down in Brissie.

So, what the hell have I been up to? When I wrote last I'd managed to find a job and a house-share in pretty quick succession. It seems like aeons ago now but you'll be glad to know that I still have that job and still have a roof over my head.

I've been working here for two months already and although the job itself is not exactly arduous it is rather repetitive and it's very easy to be distracted (read into that what you will). It's data entry for the university's assessment of its published research - I won't bore you with any details as I'll bore you as well as me.

Anyway, here's a snapshot of my mornings into work:

• Wake up at 08:00 am - but more usually awoken by bright sunshine coming through the thin curtains in my bedroom at 5.30 am
• Shower and put on shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops
• Eat

breakfast consisting of muesli (delicious here in Australia)
• Make sandwiches for lunch - usually ham and bread rolls
• Go down to the ground floor and collect bicycle
• Cycle to work in beautiful sunshine, first climbing up suitably named Mountain Street and then very fast down other streets
• Cycle through very dry and wild forest, swerving to avoid rock lizards lazily sunning themselves in my path and who are very slow to react scampering away as if wearing flares

I'm able to stay up late and get up late because I only live about fifteen minute bike ride away from work. There are some thrilling hills to speed down but on the way home it's pretty tough but at least I get some sort of work-out exercise from it.

The job is remarkably similar to my previous one in London albeit less well paid (I figure 4 times less pay). In fact I'm graded as a 'casual' here and with that title I have the honour of filling out a time sheet fortnightly and handing it to my boss for verification. I used to be the person signing those off only months ago. Oh well, I'm not here to be Mr Important. The great thing about being a 'casual' though is that I get paid every two weeks, crucial for my perennial struggle for ready cash.

The team of data slaves I work with are are a motley bunch and we all get on well: "V" a very large woman who sits about five centimetres away from her computer screen, "F" a very proper 50 year old from Mitteleuropa who is also a part time football referee; "H" a Colombian lady married to a local politician, "S" an hyper intelligent physicist and all managed by a comically scatty American woman with a page boy hair side parting - classic old-school library.

Each morning at 10 AM, the physicist, football referee and me go for our half hour coffee break at one of the local cafes here on campus. IT's always sunny and it's always a 'flat white' for me! Out of these conversations some charity: S the physicist has kindly donated a bicycle for me to use - the previous bicycle I was lent was mechanically buggered and never able to go up hills with it. This one is much better - a yellow rusting woman's bent-handle
Playing Wii (Tennis)Playing Wii (Tennis)Playing Wii (Tennis)

Yep, i was rubbish
bar piece of shit - but at least it goes up hills.

The whole of library services seems to be based in the basement of the Library, but despite this it's still a relaxed environment. Our bosses are pretty good to us; regular awards for hard work, morning teas with cakes, Melbourne Cup race day with the horse race beamed onto over head screens and even a pizza and games morning where we ordered in (free) pizza and played board games! At the end of this week we are also going to Mount Tamborine for the day, everything is paid for, including lunch and the Tree Walk! A free day off work to explore the mountain's cheese shops and pubs - serving real bitter, the more I go over my little work life the better it sounds.

What they do here is very similar to what I've been doing for the last couple of jobs back in the UK and so they even got me to do a little presentation this week to talk about my experience and a comparison. It was the first presentation I've done since I left in February, but I think it went o.k.

I definitely don't feel out of a place in a library, it seems I've been working (in all senses) in these places since I began serious study. I'm grateful to have full access to the resources of the university library, which not only means books and a very good DVD collection but also first pickings on anything that takes our fancy from the new books/magazines shelf that is in our office; Consequently I spend a lot of my lunch and tea breaks catching up with the Times Literary Supplement, the New Statesman and The Observer. The latter is something I wouldn't have ever read back home because of it's lefty-sententious nature, but feel uplifted as I gaze upon its pages of British and British-reported world events - so much better than the incredibly as well as unbelievably parochial Australian newspapers.

Lastly, despite being a "POM" I've come to realise that I rather like that term now. As the Economist stated astutely back in 1957:

New British migrants are more readily assimilated than continental Europeans. Australians do not consider the ‘Poms’ as foreigners.

The Economist 9 Nov. 1957 510/2

And I tend to agree. The majority of the time I'm rather grateful for being excluded from the 'others' who migrate here, whether it be the Indians (taxi drivers), Asians (students) or backpackers from Munich. Being called a Pom is almost a badge of honour - although it does really depend on the intention behind its use as I've not yet been called a "bloody Pom!"

In fact I've been surprised how many connections people have with the UK; my boss spent 18 months during the late 80s in London working as a temp; S the Physicist regards himself as 'English', his parents having emigrated from the middle-class London suburb of Pinner, where not too long ago I used to do my shopping at; V has a daughter leaving for London in a few days, joining up with a boyfriend who has residency there; even other people in our team are getting married to "poms". And amongst all this I hear anonymous English accents in our department, and constantly a northern-accented lady working on the IT help phone desk who when I eventually bumped into her told me she had emigrated last year from Nottingham after many years at the university's library. I simply feel very welcome and at home here.

What I'm currently reading: Australia's History: Themes And Debates


25th November 2009

Hey so I read your post, good to see that you found some work. I like your commute on a bike much better than mine in a car. How is the book on the history of Austarlia so far? Eric

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