Ah holidays. Four glorious weeks without work. In fact my whole industry closes down over Christmas, aren’t I lucky? Not even a phone call or an email to interrupt the silence.
Ugh. I am counting down the days until I can go to work again.
I’m bored, I don’t know what day it is, I can’t sleep at night, I am achieving nothing and I have nothing to look forward to. MY LIFE IS GOING NOWHERE!
It’s possible my identity is closely tied to my work. It helps that I have a job I like and work with people I like. It hasn’t always been the case of course. I was a check-out-chick when I was 16 and my shift supervisor was a total moll. She sent someone to take over my register one Thursday night so she could hand me a bucket and chux and tell me to clean the toilets. Well I was stunned. It just wasn’t what I’d signed up for frankly and I told her so. I didn’t clean the toilets that night, but my shifts were severely cut after that. I felt as though it was the supermarket’s loss as I was a fast operator and very rarely required assistance from the service desk. I never needed a price check because if the scanner couldn’t pick up the price on something I just gave it to them for free. I also bypassed the scanner with a few things if the customer looked poor. Mum said it wasn’t charity because the stuff I gave away didn’t belong to me, but I felt pretty good about it none the less.
I was much more compatible with my next employer, a local fish and chip shop. It was policy to always err on the side of generosity when serving chips, calamari and potato cakes which I thought was brilliant. I wouldn’t say I “loved” going to work there though because the other girls talked about their love lives a lot, and the combination of squid guts and sexy talk just made me uncomfortable.
Many years later I worked as a receptionist in Brothels in Melbourne. Obviously by that stage my tolerance for sexy talk had improved and the presence of squid guts was very rare indeed. There was one brothel in particular that I loved and missed very much whenever I took a break. It was a transsexual brothel in which the average staff member was in her 50s, and I am not joking when I tell you that I learned more about being a woman in that place, at that time than in any other situation in my life. It closed down a few years ago which is very upsetting. I would give anything to walk back into that brothel, flick the night-time lights on, pop some TLC into the CD player, check my float, and work through until dawn with those girls. What a great job.
Stand up comedy was my job for 15 years or so, and in that situation, to take a break is a very bad idea. No work, no money for one thing, but also the amount of work one ‘gets’ is a sign of ones ability, and position in the industry. Not ‘getting’ work is a very bad sign indeed. Maybe that’s why I struggle with holidays now. It makes me feel irrelevant, and like no one is interested in me. Like I’m failing. Yikes!
I get it from my Dad too. A career taxi driver, he was always celebrated and admired among his family and friends for his incredible capacity to keep working. He recently had two heart attacks and a triple bypass so the celebrations have died down a bit now. Take my advice and never ring him on a weekend. He’s not allowed to work them anymore which makes him viciously unhappy. I know how he feels.
There’s nothing worse than hating your job, but loving your job and not being able to do it is no picnic either. At least I can get stuck back into in soon, my old man is staring down the barrel of retirement and is just miserable about it. I hope I can work a bit smarter than he did, and get away with it for longer. Time will tell I guess.
Meshel Laurie is a comedian and broadcaster. You can catch up with her on Nova’s Drive Show with Tim Blackwell and Marty Sheargold 4-6pm on weekdays.
Do you love your job so much that you can’t wait to go back? Or would you give anything for a few more days’ break?