Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Oz Day 048.

Much earlier in this blog I mentioned that I had no intention to keep a "today I brush my teeth" blog, preferring to focus on the mental processes and decisions behind the emigration journey. Then after the decision was made, more of the entries started falling into that category. After crossing the rubicon, almost all the entries documented more of the external developments than the thought processes driving and responding to those developments..

So.. today I brushed my teeth. Twice in fact. In the late morning hot shower to jumpstart my day, and once in the afternoon after a late lunch.


Today I also put fuel in the car at the fuel station next to the pizza place where I work. I am still getting above 12 kilometres to the litre, even with more aggressive (confident) driving as I get used to the road layout in this small pizza delivery zone. I was telling myself to put in no more than $25 (the total amount of money in my wallet - I had left the ETFPOS card in the house). While mesmerised by a sturdy and freshly-washed country ute which had custom plates "THE SNAIL", I lost track of the pump and went over $25. (Maybe I really do have ADHD?)

The cashier recognised me as I shuffled in to pay. He comes in regularly to the pizza place to make change when the fuel station till runs short on change, and we sometimes go over to the fuel place for the same purpose. I started digging in my pockets in vain for possible loose change, and he waved me off immediately as I started to explain why I was about a dollar short on the payment.

It is friendly moments like this that makes me feel like a part of a community.

I stopped by a couple hours later to make up the short payment. Also stopped by the pizza place to let the folks on duty tonight know of his nice gesture. I would bet a dollar or two that he gets a friendly welcome and a free snack the next time he stops in.


If every job paid a dollar, what job would you do?

Peter Gibbons, I have never really been able to answer that question. However (if you ignore the lack of financial rewards) I am finding that delivering pizza is pretty tolerable compared to some of the fancy-titled "white-collar-prestige" jobs that I have previously held.

Of course there are the downsides. The harsh penalties for not obeying traffic laws. The bad weather and road conditions at times. Impatient hungry customers. The constant risk of being mugged in a dark alley. And worst of all, the total lack of intellectual challange beyond what is required to read a road map and plot (and remember) an efficient route.

On the upside, this is about the most peaceful job I have ever had. No urgent on-call mobile calls in the middle of the night, no last-minute disasters to manage and clean up, no "we need to ship you to the other side of the world on the next available flight". I end my shift and I leave my work behind. And very minimal politics as compared to some of the complex Machiavellian manoeuvrings making my head spin, in some of previous office environments I have worked in. After all, it is not like pizza delivery is on some rung on a corporate ladder which leads to a big corner office with a view of the sunset. (Although some glimpses of the sunsets I get through the car windscreen early in the shifts sure beats anything I have seen out of anybody's office window recently.)

And one of the greatest fringe benefits is that welcome look on customers' faces when they see food arriving. Especially with kids and dogs. Kids seem to just love pizza and would often beat their parents (and even their dogs) to the door upon hearing the words "Pizza Delivery!". I will take having that experience over a generous tip anyday.

So if every job paid a dollar and if I had to choose one.. pizza deliveryman would be a definite contender. In most jobs, I would have to pay people to buy some "quiet time". Here in this job, my employer pays me for my quiet time in the car - and I can even choose to have the radio off, or blast whatever radio channel I choose (with the windows closed).


Unfortunately in the real world, not every job pays a dollar. And real-world food, and real-world rent, and real-world fuel costs much more than a few real-world dollars.

Took a short tally this afternoon. I have worked slightly over 30 hours last week at this job and made just enough to cover rent, fuel and food. Not much (if any) left over for unexpected expenses like
traffic fines, or (touch wood!) emergency repairs and maintenance on the car, or any other luxury beyond the bare necessities. So even with 30 hours a week at this job, I am still bleeding financially, albeit at a much reduced rate. So I am going to chalk that up to a small victory. Not quite a positive turning point yet, but a step in the right direction nonetheless. And in the meantime, the credit card wolves, the insurance back payments and the filial impiety of not contributing to my parents' household expenses - all continue to howl at me from across the Indian Ocean.

However, it is quite amazing (when you think about it) that a person can with no formal education, and armed with nothing more than a working vehicle, a current driver's licence and the ability to read a map and count change, would be able to make enough money to afford a minimal lifestyle on a mere 30 hours of work a week here. And pizza delivery is not exactly harsh labour like scrubbing toilets or moving heavy construction materials.

So rest assured that while enjoying the moment (or what I can of it), this is far from being an acceptable long-term situation. It is just a good resting place. A welcome respite. A safe harbour to take stock and emotionally resupply before continuing towards a situation where I would be comfortable enough to call this place home.


And in other related news.. yet another attempt to watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean has been foiled!


Blogger Venitha said...

Ah, yes, I remember well one wonderful perk of working at McDonald's during high school: the absolute glee with which children came through the door.

August 26, 2005 3:26 PM  
Blogger the virgin undergrad said...

one thing that never fails to amaze me is the fact that there really isn't much of a class divide here in perth. u just dun see the same embitterment in aussies who work in presumably 'less-prestigious' jobs as compared to their singapore counterparts. in fact, they seem very proud of what they do.
i've met there's this guy who is the counterstaff at the billards place in mt lawley. he really takes immense pride in his job and brushes the tables everytime after someone finish playing on it, even though it probably extends beyond his job scope. it's definitely not what we would observe usually in singapore.

August 26, 2005 7:45 PM  
Blogger KnightofPentacles said...

What class divide?

It is not like the person with the more job prestige gets to enjoy more sky, or a cleaner river, or see brighter stars.

And some of the trades actually pay a whole lot better than the professions.

Just try getting a brick wall built, an engine repaired, or a house wired up around here..

August 26, 2005 11:12 PM  
Anonymous astropup said...

I delivered pizza for a while around the south/port melbourne/city area, and I concur. Pizza delivering is quite enjoyable actually, and it's always nice when some of the customers, especially regulars, tip you for getting their food on time :)

August 30, 2005 4:24 PM  

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