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.