Thursday, 21 October 2010

Brisbane and the inevitable prospect of being a peasant

Aloha one and all,

NB - photos are off Google as I haven't sorted mine out yet!

Alas the tragic time has come for me to stop the backpacking gambit for a few months and settle and find work. I always knew this day would come - and really it should have come sooner - but hey ho, here I am in Brisbane and here I must find a source of $$ that doesn't include standing on a street corner, selling electricity door to door or decorating christmas trees in a dodgy warehouse, that is probably in fact the set of a snuff movie.

I arrived in sunny Brisbane nearly a week ago from Noosa (ahh beautiful Noosa) and was staying in Bunk Backpackers - a very flashy hostel in Fortitude Valley - the entertainment district of Brissie. It is incidently also home to all the tramps of Brisbane, the arty studenty types, Chinatown and all the slightly dodgy sales companies. It is usually just referred to as 'the valley' by locals, which is something I do as often as possible, purely because it makes me feel a little bit like I live in LA. But I digress. I started jobhunting while in Noosa, and I have been primarily looking for temp work in offices, call centres (yuck), and nice shops that will be needing Christmas casuals within the next month or so. I also sent applications to all those slightly suspicious adverts promising me I could earn up to $1000 a week and even put an advert on gumtree, stating that I was looking for work (a massive error I shall discuss momentarily).

I had my first interview the day after I applied for suspicious $1000 a week job and was promptly offered the job that day. The job was advertised as promotions (something I used to do a fair bit of in the UK) but it was actually selling electricity door to door all over the suburbs. I was initially interested - with dollar signs gleaming in my eyes - but was already a bit concerned by the fact it was entirely commission based, as well as the fact it was door to door (according to my mother this means a high chance of being kidnapped on someone's doorstep) so I started to have my doubts. It was the moment the boss (in his south London meets Queensland drawl) said that my "cute British accent would be totally disarming" that I remembered turning to door to door sales was in fact morally bankrupt, and by the time I woke up the next day, I remembered that I hate door to door sellers and everything they stand for, and I promptly turned the job down.

(That's my apartment building above!)

After a few casual rejections for some random jobs, I pimped out my CV to, er, expand on some of the jobs I have done previously. This was an excellent plan. I also put an ad on gumtree in the looking for work section. This was not such an excellent plan. Aside from the man offering to use me as a model in his 'experimental art project' where I would be 'naked and more' (!!), I had three offers to become a hooker (and not in a Billie Piper glamorous way!), another offer to be a door to door sales chick, and a very questionable offer to decorate Christmas trees in a unit in the middle of nowhere. I rang the guy back from the Christmas tree job (and firmly declined the rest of the offers) and was asked to start on Friday (today). When I spoke to the guy yesterday he didn't seem able to tell me the company's name, they didn't have a website (it's 2010 people!), and he was very very vague about how and when I would be paid. When I asked what the hours were he simply said to be there at 7am and that we would work 'all day'. The warning bells were already going off when he gave me the address as Unit 2, street in the middle of nowhere, 45 mins out of the city... so I decided that until he could offer me concrete evidence that it was a real, legitimate company and that it wasn't me walking into a room full of tripods and scary men I decided to call it off.

Beggars can't be choosers is all well and good until you mysteriously disappear and the flatmate who only met you once is suddenly on the news appealing for your safe return. So I am not doing very well in my hunt for jobs as I keep turning down the jobs I am offered... But I have enough $ to survive three or four weeks of rent and food (if I start living on lentils) so I have decided to follow my survival instinct and avoid death by kidnapping, or indeed death by snuff film.

Speaking of my flatmates, I am living with two people in a little apartment in the heart of Brisbane! I haven't actually met the man who lives in the room next to the kitchen yet but all I know is that he is Malaysian and a 'business man'. The girl I share the upstairs room with is also from the UK and she is really nice so it's all good. My apartment is cute and small with a fairly decent kitchen and and a pokey lounge. I have a double bed for the first time in several months which is nice, and I have finally unpacked my backpack which is such a blessing. Backpacking is great but living out of a bag you have to pack up and carry every few days gets old pretty quickly. It is nice to have time to breathe, even if every other breath comes with the paralysing nausea about not finding a job, not making rent, and eventually having to become a very specific kind of masseuse.

But on the plus side, I really love Brisbane, I live 5 mins walk from the very heart of the city, and there are THREE Starbucks here. That is three more than ANYWHERE else I have been in Australia so you can imagine how happy I was to find one just a few mins walk from where I live. It was an almost spiritual experience ordering my first caramel frappucino in 2 months - it nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was like being at home for a few mere moments. And now I cannot afford it so I am one of those crazy people that walks past it inhaling deeply and looking a bit glazed. I have also taken to spending my afternoons in the library (mornings are strictly devoted to job hunting) where it seems all the other unemployed people hang out. I haven't got a memebership yet so I pick books I know I can finish within a couple of hours - which has led to some hilarious sneaky reading of Mills and Boon (I think that last one was called 'Bedded for Love, Purchased for Pregnancy' or something equally ridiculous) which has been a source of endless amusement. I have certain rituals to curb my occasional homesickness and visiting the books is one of my never fail tricks. I also go to the cinema (but only on Tuesdays which are cheap here!) and lie on the grass and make cloud shapes which I have always loved. Being on your own thousands of miles away from family, friends, birthdays, parties and other things you should be at home for is not easy by any means - and there have been moments when I have really wondered what I am doing here. But then I will see something incredible, or I will remember some of the things I have done here and I remember how worth it coming here has been. As I remind my fellow backpackers when they get homesick, it is really easy to forget how brave it was to come here. So a quick pep talk and some library time rights me every single time. :)

Right, have to pop back to my flat and sort some stuff out. It's a beautiful day in beautiful Brisbane. I miss you all, more than you could possibly know. Hope everyone is alright. :) Love xxxxxxxx

PS - I have an interview with a temp agency on Wednesday so hope is not lost!! Woop!

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