Thursday, 24 May 2012

Job Hunt

Our entire reason for landing in Melbourne after months of scrimping and saving was solely due to the utter lack of work opportunities in Ireland. The Boyfriend has a Masters degree in Corporate Strategy and I obtained a meagre Bachelor degree in Philosophy and English – unfortunately, these were apparently the two least progressive areas in the Emerald Isle and moving off the continent was our only option. Well, that, and we wanted to see kangaroos up close.
So we began our job search. I applied for countless cafe-based positions, having had a good experience in a similar situation and considering the relative lack of responsibility in any such role. I had a few call backs – including one for a managerial post in a cafe about a hundred miles into the outback and another from a barely English-speaking cantankerous old man  who hung up the phone when I failed to pronounce his name correctly after four tries.  
After another awkward conversation with a woman who thought the wage I expected was “ridiculously low”, The Boyfriend and  I decided a tourist activity was due to brighten our spirits. We reluctantly asked Fat Shite and Sour Puss whether they would be interested in tagging along to the Aquarium. They jumped at the chance when they heard we’d acquired 10% discount vouchers, naturally. It took us an hour and a half to get there in old Dallas – parking came to a neat $14 an hour, but Fat Shite had no change to help out, an excuse I was to hear at least a jillion times more in the future.
The Aquarium was pretty interesting. What was not interesting was Fat Shite’s constant commentary on the sting rays – he’s seen a show about those very creatures on the Discovery Channel, you know. He watched it back in Ireland on his flat screen 72”, you know. He finds that kind of thing fascinating, you know. One of those bad boys killed Steve Irwin, don’t you know. He does a mean Steve Irwin impression if you’d like to hear it four times a minute, don’t you goddamnbloodyfrickinghellgougemyowneyesout know?
Anyway, while trying desperately to block out Fat Shite’s monotonous monologue, I heard my ringtone bleating away in my pocket. I answered the unknown number, but could barely make out the caller’s voice on the other end, registering only that it was someone responding to one of my many job applications. I raced to find somewhere quiet. Surrounded by  huge sharks and bloated goldfish swimming overhead, I ran into the only place I thought would be remotely silent. Luckily, there was no one else in the Ladies bathrooms.
 I ran to a cubicle, slapped down the toilet seat and perched on the lid. I took some deep breaths – I have a tendency to babble – and went through in my head what I wanted to say. I rehearsed what buzz words would impress this guy, what experience I should mention, what cafe-related terms I could impressively yet absently throw in to conversation. I smiled, so I sounded upbeat and outgoing, and presented myself; “Hi, sorry about that, I’m just sitting on the toilet now.”
There was a deafening silence on the other end of the line. At that very moment, as I cringed in my cubicle, I realised I was not alone in the bathroom as I had previously thought. I heard a slight moan, the sound of teeth clenching, a squelch and an almighty splash. Apparently the woman in the next stall over had consumed something bowel-erupting. The plop sound echoed all around the tiled room.  And still the line remained quiet.
But here’s some good news – somehow, I got the job.

Thursday, 3 May 2012


Because of Fat Shite’s soaring taxi rates, the Boyfriend and I decided a car was an imperative purchase. We visited a string of car lots and garages, encountering hoards of pushy salesmen and as many well-driven, outrageously overpriced automobiles. Still luckless at the end of the week, we got three trains out to a suburb which consisted mostly of Indian take-aways in a last ditch attempt to find something suitable.  We trawled the streets for hours, following the navigational systems on our mobile phones. We realised how stupid that was when we found ourselves playing Dodge-The-Truck on the Maroondah Highway.
After an hour we finally reached our destination. I bit my tongue as the Boyfriend hummed and hah-ed over Mitsubishis and Holdens (“They’re an AUSTRALIAN make, you know!”), and was over the moon when he decided a lilac 1998 Ford Mondeo warranted a test drive.
The car was lowered, with tinted windows and a sound system installed by an enthusiastic amateur. There were hideous earrings hidden in the glove compartment, cigarette ash all over the dash and the boot was inaccessible. Nonetheless, the Boyfriend fell in love. And I fell in love with the concept of not having to ask Fat Shite for a lift ever again.  We even baptised her – Dallas.
Delighted with our success, we greeted Nick the salesman as if he were a long lost brother. “We’ll take it!” we breathed, eagerly storming into the Portakabin that acted as their professional headquarters. The Boyfriend whipped out his trusty debit card. “Stick it all on this,” he proclaimed. I chortled and made small talk with Nick and felt generally happy as a pig in shit.
But the Boyfriend’s Irish debit card wasn’t reading. And nor was his credit card. I shakily handed over my card. “NO TRACK READING” the machine I was quickly beginning to loathe spat back at us. Mortified, we said we’d try some ATMs. Our cards worked there, but we could only take out $200 at a time.
We shrugged and made our apologies, promising we’d be back the next day if Nick would be good enough to hold the car for us. We traipsed back through the Curry ‘Burb – which, it turns out, was a single kilometre away from Kelly’s Motors, and didn’t require any trek along the Maroondah Highway, thank YOU, Google Maps – to the train station and clambered aboard. Some poor deluded fool with an Eminem complex rapped to himself at the top of his voice while scrawling in a battered note-pad the whole way back into Flinders Station. The tram that followed was chock-o-block with self-important CBD types in pencil skirts and Crocs. Having left at 11 o’ clock that morning, we arrived back in the Old Lady House at 8 o’ clock that night, car-less and with blistering feet.
The welts on my heels were so grotesque that I enlisted the boyfriend to pop them. Face-first on the wire mesh that was our bed, I let my beloved pop my blisters. As terribly as the car hunt had gone, we had never been so close.