A change is as good as holiday, but less fun and without palm trees.

Part One.

It has been a while, please accept my apologies. I have been on holidays.

First, you should probably know, my holiday has not necessarily been ‘normal’.
It wasn’t the kind of holiday where you pack a bag with towels and condoms and hope for the best, nor the kind where you lay about the house for hours wondering where you should put your floral-printed tissue box. No, I had been on a different, special, kind of holiday in the sense that I got out of my normal routine and saw how the rest of the world lives: I have spent my holiday at work.

On my holiday I did not learn how to do Pilates, or plat reeds into interesting shapes. I learnt to catch a train at the same time every morning and how to hate peak-public transport. I stopped writing fiction and started writing hate mail to MetroTrains (complete with metaphors and similes of hate). I learnt how to eat lunch at a desk, how to have violent daydreams about my clients, and buy myself shiny things on the weekend to make up for the rest of the week.

So why take such a holiday, you might ask? Well, in my experience it is simply something that most people after they finish University do. They stumble into work in much the same way an alcoholic might decide to enter an AA meeting. They simply wake up one morning in either a metaphorical or literal bath of their own vomit, mumbling pop lyrics, when suddenly they realise that their current lifestyle may not be conducive to long-term happiness.
It is at this point that people can choose one of three options:

1-stay in the bath, get another drink and re-do the whole realisation process in a few months time (Note: this step can be repeated as often as necessary)
2-Decide to do post-grad.
3-Decide to get a job (wife/husband/family and mortgage are all optional, but recommended, extras)

It began on Monday morning, whereby in traditional Monday morning fashion I spent it curled in ball in the bath, softly singing Britany Spears songs to myself in a bid to confuse the rising nausea.
The night before I had caught up with an old university friend called Melanie. We had been close throughout our degrees, and to be honest, I was worried about her. It had been over two months since we had finished University and I had seen her more than several times drunkenly arguing Modernism across a bar table or scratching ‘parenthesis rules’ into her upper arm with a compass. I knew the real world was rejecting her and that it would be my job to comfort her as she drank herself into a stupor.

When the time came to meet, I was unpleasantly surprised. She was waiting for me, perched on a high stool at a nice wine bar in Northcote. Her dark hair was tied neatly back and her eyes glimmered with what I can only assume was a mixture of smug and gin. She wore a matching jacket and skirt that she later referred to as an “adorable-two-piece”. I wanted to remind her that most of the time suits came in two pieces and it didn’t make them any more adorable, but chose to let it slide. I stood across the bar wearing stained black jeans and a self-conscious smile that said ‘I wish I’d remembered to put mascara on’.

“Charlie! “ She said as I crossed the bar, “How are you? How are things, how you been? What are you doing?”
I wanted to let her go on, just to see how many ways one could ask how another is, but her mouth suddenly stretched into a wide toothy smile, eagerly awaiting to eat my reply.
I explained to her that, yes, I was good. That I had been good, and that things of all varieties were going good, good, good.
“I’m so sorry, I must look awful” she said, leaving a strategic gap for me to reproach her, “I just came from work. Didn’t have time to get changed, still high-heeled and everything, I’m just so busy at the moment.” she sighed self satisfactorily.

About an hour and several strong drinks later, I had discovered that she now worked in an office of some sort where they did some kind of things to do with books. She went to work every day, at the same time, and had ‘excellent options for advancement’. Her work desk had a Mac on it, the work kitchen had biscuits in it, and her work boss would occasionally bring a mocha-latte to her desk. All these things seemed to make her very happy and made me very confused.

‘So, do you have your own office” I asked. “Is it like in Boston Legal with the glassy windows or like in Mad Men where it’s mostly teak?”

She explained to me that she did not work in an office, but rather ‘created ideas in an open-plan life-space‘, a farce that I quickly reduced in my mind to ‘a room with many little desks in it’ or an office equivalent of a free-range chicken shed. Just enough to move your legs, but not nearly enough freedom to realise the possibility of escape.

The rest of the evening continued in a similar fashion; she discussed work while my mind wandered envisioning a brood of office workers mulling around seed buckets and scratching up the carpet. Drinks were finished, conversations petered out, and it came time to leave. She threw her card over to the bartender to pay for the tab while I feebly offered over a large portion of my centrelink money from my wallet. She looked down at my handful gold coins, contorted her face into smiling pity and told me this one was on her.

Later that night, while the alcohol marinated my brain for the coming hangover, I thought about Melanie. I thought about her suit, about her heels, that way she could afford someone to cut and style her hair, and about the way she could wake up five days a week with at least some sense of purpose.
I wanted that purpose and the extra cash that came with it would be a welcome extra. I thought about it some more as I walked to the bottle shop, I thought about it again while I sat in the lounge and got sauced with my housemate Reece, and I thought about it as I lay in the tub in the early hours of the morning and drifted to sleep.

By dawn it was settled. I was going on holiday. I was going to get a job.

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    • Zoe
    • August 25th, 2010

    Dear Charlie,

    I am so glad you went on holiday, talk about adding extra punch to your prosaic Pina Colada! Hopefully aforementioned holiday will continue to furnish you (and us readers vicariously) with some more splendid shots of life. Bring on the Christmas party jagerbombs!

    Zoe.

  1. Hi Charlie! Your holidays seems interesting.. I am interested to see what kind of office (as this seems to be the central idea around you idea of a job) you ended up working in. Man oh man I miss having a bathtub. Good luck & can’t wait to hear more about it. I feel I can really connect with this blog. Please don’t read mine.

    -Sunny 😀

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