The time has come to find what I have always referred to as ‘a real job’, by which I mean one that is not unskilled and in the primary industries. There is a reasonably good chance that I am going to kill one or more of my co-workers if I am party to one more discussion about the evils of immigration and the futility of getting an education. I am starting to become embarrassed by the casual racism and gung-ho jingoism of my workmates and the assumption that our Korean fellow workers don’t understand what they are hearing. So, full of a kind of fatalistic determination, I take to the employment web-sites, throwing my life into the air to see what might turn up.
A job that pays roughly what I earn as a manual labourer comes up in the area where I grew up – a beautiful coastal strip that rivals the unemployment statistics of famously dole-reliant areas like Byron Bay. I decide that I could live there again, and apply, but am told they want someone just starting uni. In rapid succession I apply for jobs on Melville Island, in Adelaide, Liverpool, the Western Plains of NSW and, most amusingly, the Burdekin – not the place to go if the problems I am having with rural Australians are my main reason for looking for new pastures.
I stop this carpet-bombing approach to seeking employment when I realise that I can’t remember what I have said to each Human Resources department, or even where I have applied for which job. Then the Owl’s garden starts producing for another summer, and the parrots come back, and my Honours supervisor gently suggests that I would be good at research if I could just stick to doing one thing at a time, and one morning on the way to work I see the quoll again, calmly gnawing the leg off a wallaby with no concern for passing traffic, and I give the employment web-sites a rest for a bit longer.