I remember the exact moment the epiphany hit me. It was like something had fallen down hard on my head, stunning me into a sort of reverie that lasted for two whole weeks. I had just moved to Swan View, Perth, with my baby. Six months prior, I was living with my brother in Newman, a little rugged red town in the middle of the Pilbara. Oh my god, I really hated it there. Which is going off topic, I know, but I’ve just got to emphasise that I really hated that place. Like really hated the place. With a passion.
Anyway, back to the epiphany. So me and my baby had just arrived in Swan View, where my baby’s father, and on/off – now officially back on boyfriend, had been residing since February. We both came to Australia with big plans, lured away from the comforts of our beloved but economically useless home town of Opotiki, in search of a better life. The day I finally got out of the Pilbara and landed in Swan View was a fortuitous day for me. My head was bursting at the seams with all kinds of big plans. Getting a job. Making twenty plus an hour doing manual labour (a rarity in New Zealand, unless your qualified at some trade). Giving my baby more opportunities, having money, saving money, spending money and all that jazz. The first thing I did was go all-out-mother-effing craaazy trying to set us up in our own place and find a job that will do for now. Which I did, in record time. I’d found a really nice place – and landed an easy as 1-2-3 job stacking shelves at Woolworths, in just two weeks – no lie. My man was already working, making security doors at Westral, so the transition into our own place, and into an exciting new independent life – was a smooth one.
“…Me and my boyfriend both came to Australia with big plans, lured away from the comforts of our beloved, but economically useless hometown of Opotiki, in search of a better life…”
The job I snagged wasn’t all that glorious – the people I worked with were even less so. But it was a job. Pay was twenty-two dollars an hour. The work was physical, but that was fine because I loved physical work. The boss was Indian-Fijian, and to this day, I still don’t know what her name is. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was one of those complicated, hard to pronounce Indian names. Blame it on my hearing. It’s excellent. So excellent, I have to wear hearing aids. You get my meaning.
I think it started during my last week there. The stirring of something unpleasant in my gut. It didn’t take long for the initial excitement to wear off. For one thing, going to work amongst a group of really unhappy-looking people began to bug me. Everyone has bad hair days. We’re entitled to them, right? But when a large majority of your co-workers can’t summon the strength to smile, walk around the place with dead, blood-shot looking eyes from erratic sleeping patterns, push trolleys and stack shelves like automated robots while giving off the impression that life has somehow cheated them, that’s gotta be worse than just a bad hair day man. The atmosphere was, to put it bluntly, just down-right depressing. I only lasted there three weeks, and it had nothing to do with the job itself. Maybe I just read it wrong but, judging by the high employee turnover, I doubt it.
It was getting me down big time. In all my working life (and let me tell you, I’ve had some shit bosses) I’d never had this problem before. I’d get home from work, plop myself in front of the TV, weary and despondent, wandering, always wandering what the hell I was doing. I don’t why the attitude of some people bugged me, but it did. It bugged me relentlessly. I mean, I had enough going on in my own backyard, who gives a flying fox what’s going on in the next person’s? Truth was…I did. A little more than I should, actually.
I believe it was an unfavourable incident that happened after my last night shift that really made me go for the kill. We didn’t (and still don’t) have a car, so I had to catch the bus to and from work three times a week. I didn’t mind. Coming from a small rural town with more hills and cows than people, it was actually an adventure. Until that night I stood in the dark waiting for the eleven thirty bus. A black car with tinted windows, trembling with the Bass of some god-forsaken music I’d never heard of before, pulled up beside me. The occupants of the car were friendly at first, then insistent when I refused their offer to take me home. I suppose what followed could probably be highlighted as one of the most startling moments of my life, and there’s been more than a few of those. If it weren’t for the Maori dude who was asleep in his cappy in the loading bay of Woolworth’s, I probably would have been toast. He came to my rescue, scared the white boys off, and sat and talked to me until my bus came. Top guy. I didn’t get his name (thanks again to my awesome hearing skills) but one day, I hope to find him and send him a card or something. You know, just to say thank you.
I never went back to Woolworth’s after that. And two weeks later, I realized something else. The epiphany. That I didn’t want to work for anyone else. Ever. I see the bigger picture. It’s been there all along, but in the background, murky and unfocused. It’s clear as crystal now. I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life working my butt off to make someone else’s dream come true. I don’t want to be an automated robot, walking around with bloodshot eyes thanks to erratic sleeping patterns, or pushing trolleys and shelves and looking as if life has cheated me somehow. Then you got people higher up in the ranks, mercilessly competing with each other, gotta have the latest, man. The latest Holden, the latest iPhone, the latest iPad. Worrying about whose kid has the trendiest gear, and which house is the biggest house on the block. And let’s not forget those that struggle from pay check to pay check, taking on anything they can get solely just to put food in the cupboards. People everywhere, everywhere, all over the bloody globe, always on the go, go, go, working themselves to the bone and neglecting the one and only thing that can help them be truly happy. Their dreams.
“I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life working my butt off to make someone else’s dream come true…people everywhere, everywhere, all over the globe, always on the go…working themselves to the bone and neglecting the one thing that can truly make them happy – their dreams.”
This is the norm. This is society. I’ve never believed in its path, but what I do believe, now more than ever, is that I think it’s high time I follow my own path. Because one day, when I’ve completely freed myself from the chains of society, I want to help others break free, too. Thats my ultimate goal. I want to help people resurrect and begin living their dreams.
But first, I’ve gotta resurrect and start living my own.
When I talked to my man, he was, understandably against it. I told him I finished at my job. He didn’t make too much noise at first. Until I told him I wasn’t looking for another job ever, and then he thought I was joking. I told him no, I wasn’t kidding, not even a little, and that I planned to stay home and do what I’ve wanted to do since I was chubby pre-teen. I plan to write. He yelled. He accused me of being lazy and unmotivated to work. He threatened that he wasn’t giving me any money for anything, smokes included. I told him I plan to give up to which his reply was a scoff (understandable, because I’m always trying to give up). His next objection was that it was a waste of time us being here in Australia if I wasn’t going to go to work. I reminded him that we were here, not just for ourselves, but for baby too. With the PSA vine disease threatening the Opotiki and NZ economy, and pregnancies on the rise at an alarming rate in our home town, you don’t gotta be a genius to figure out that there was no future there.
He’s thawed a little since then. It’s probably going to take some time before I can get him to trust me on this one. In my heart, my soul, my gut, and every other anatomical part of me, I know I’m onto something good here.