Comparing life

I grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, my father worked in a government job so he was regularly home at around the same time every night, my mother was a house wife who had the dinner on the table at the same time every night and all our neighbours were the same. Everything we did was as per the clock. 

City living as I know it now: The alarm goes off at 5:45 am, turn over and click the sleep button. 9 minutes later click the sleep button again. 9 minutes later grumble as you finally get out of bed and switch the alarm off. Turn on the shower and wait for the hot water to warm up, you know it's going to be a bad day when you hop in the shower and realise you were warming up the cold water. Get dressed, if you're really lucky all your clothes are clean, if you're having a bad day you remember that your clothes are still on the line and they are really damp (if really lucky it didn't rain last night). You turn the iron on to full steam and cook your porridge while you're waiting for the iron, 2 minutes in the microwave, stir, 1 minute in the microwave, kettle boils, pour cup of tea/coffee (depending on your preference), iron clothes until most of the dampness is gone then put them in the dryer to finish the job while you eat your cold porridge and luke warm beverage of your choice. Run to the bus wishing you had got up with the first alarm. Some of your neighbours are already on the bus and are quite happy and chatty, these are the neighbours that have so far had a terrific morning where even their hair looks good, pretend smile (sneer) at the neighbour which is like this every day! At the railway station, push your way onto your regular train, if you haven't missed it, and those of you who are lucky, or those who work on weekends, may get a seat for the 52 minute fast train which on a good day takes 1:04. You will get to work with a few minutes to spare and do the same thing you did yesterday and the same thing you intend to do tomorrow. You will laugh and cry with your colleagues , while you are working with those people your friendship will be fantastic, when you meet them out of context 6 months after one of you no longer works there, you will not recognise them or you may have the desire to avoid them as it's been too long, why go back there? For some, lunch is eating out, for others it's the homemade sandwich, either way lunch is not variable often. 5 minutes to home time, you pack up and start conversing with you closest colleagues about what you're cooking for dinner or what you plan for the weekend. Your morning journey is now reversed but at a much leisurely pace (why do we rush to be paces we don't want to be and take our time to be where we want to spend our free time). You go home with a different set of neighbours who are very open and friendly, you all walk into your environments and close and lock the door to neighbourhood, only your closest friends and family are welcome inside. You turn on the television to find out what everybody else is up to.

At thirty I moved to a very small country town of approximately 7,000, the town is 50 kilometres from a city of approximately 30,000. The country is run by the people not the time.

I found it quite difficult to get full time work due to the fact that nobody knows me. No one knows who my parents were or what they were like. No one knows if my brother was a good kid or a good student. My personal achievements had no bearing on how people were to judge me. I had quite happily followed my partner to the country and we lived together unmarried as we had in the city for the previous 5 years, therefore I was considered married in most people's eyes and could be judged by my In Laws. One problem with this, my mother in law is also from away and has only lived in the area for 40 years, therefore my credibility could only come from the father in laws side of the family and that wasn't enough for most people to judge me on. I could have understood this way of thinking if it was only in the small town that I actually lived in but it travelled as far as 200 kilometres from my home and that included the city of 35,000 people. There are no strangers in the country. If you're from away, you either adapt and make a name for yourself or you continue travelling until you find your home.

You will not find a full time job until you prove you're not the traveller, this is where volunteer jobs come in. Country towns are run by volunteers. In my previous life, I believed volunteers were retirees who wanted to avoid their spouse, disabled people who wanted to keep busy or rich wives who wanted to "contribute" their time. In the country, the fire service is run by volunteers, the local radio station is run by volunteers, on the job training, all volunteers. So I went to the local radio station and enlisted my services. I was entertaining the manager with stories of my vacuuming and washing up skills, I also advised that I was pretty handy on a pc, all he seemed to be hearing though was my accent. Western Suburbs Sydney girl with a posh English grandfather who spent most his time teaching her how to round her words and pronounce words properly was like a gold mine to a country radio station which "employs" volunteers. Well it took a few months but I become Pikkle's folk rock on Sunday nights from 7:30 to 9:30. I had a range of about 3 listeners per week and occasionally I had requests for Slim Dusty, don't know why as I never played his type of music (I think the listeners were trying to convert me but it didn't work). As I didn't use my real name on the radio, I was mostly still unrecognised. I began working at the community centre, yes as a volunteer, training people how to use a computer. I trained anyone who wanted to learn but the majority of the clients were elderly and really only needed to be able to email and search the internet. This is how I became infamous in the town and surrounding areas, I taught someone's mother, another person's grandfather, that ladies daughter. I was gossip. I got my full time job after being in the area for 3.5 years and I hate every minute of it. The work is mindless and there is no training facility to grow and I dare not mention the wages. I have a more skilled position now than when I left the city, this is because I do everything in my position now whereas in the city my position would have been split into 3 jobs and I have not yet equalled my wage from ten years ago.

The people are the basis to working in the country. I have worked with quite a lot of people in various temp and volunteer jobs here and I love the people I work with. I have made friends I will always appreciate. Where I currently work in my full time job everybody is close, we all know what is happening in our social lives, we compete in iPhone games at lunch we have regular social outings and people who left the company come and go as if they are still part of the group of friends.

People in the country don't smile and nod, they laugh and prod, until they know what it is you are smiling or crying about. There are no strangers in the country, only travellers are strangers and often if a traveller stops for long enough, they'll leave the country with friends to return to.