Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends…

For a short month, February has been rather busy. The first ten days played out as normal, with me still gainfully employed at the fruit and veggie shop. On the eleventh day, however, it all took an interesting turn. I arrived at the shop one Sunday morning to be told that the store was closing, and that day was its last.

In retrospect, I had seen it coming but tried to pretend that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. My boss had dropped broad hints for a few months that the shop might not last far into the New Year. I knew it wouldn’t last forever, but I didn’t expect it all to go belly-up in one single day without any notice.

So where does this leave me? Well fortunately my casual job at the hardware store is going well. For the moment. My boss there has been extremely helpful in giving me extra shifts, which I love, but I know it won’t continue in this way much beyond Easter. As the weather cools towards winter, the DIY industry cools down too, for the cold months, before perking up again in springtime.

Which brings me to Henry V’s rallying cry to his troops. Once more I am launching myself into that daunting battlefield known as the job market, steeling my nerves to be cut down by cold-as-steel rejection letters, even as I leap forward to grasp at the slim chance of landing the perfect job

As much as I love my job in the hardware store, I need another part-time job to enable me to finally break out of my dependence on my long-suffering family and be on my own again. With this comes another problem: my novel-writing has ground to an abrupt halt while I concentrate my writing energies on writing and rewriting my cover letters and tweaking my resume.

I’m not drowning yet, but it is a definite setback in my plans to live my life fully in Australia. Three years ago I was packing and planning my move over here, uncertain of my future. Three years later I’m still adrift in a sea of uncertainty, treading water, and getting older while not really moving forward.

I’ve been in Australia for two years and eight months now, but it’s only in the past eight months that I seem to have moved forward. And now, just when things are gathering pace, this is a giant leap backwards.

Sometimes, I can’t help but compare my current situation (or lack thereof) with the one I left behind in South Africa. It’s a terrible thing to be without work for two years, and a truly marvellous thing to have been gainfully employed for the past eight months. Eight months ago I was beginning to despair of getting a job – any kind of job – and wondered if I would ever be able to gather some resources and move into my own place without constantly draining resources that were not mine.

Would I ever be able to afford exorbitant Melbourne rentals, buy my own car, save some money for my old age? Even little pleasures like splashing out on tea and cake with a friend seemed extravagant, always mentally counting the South African rands that were fast dwindling away at ten times the rate they would have done back in Durban. Steady income goes a long way towards alleviating those worries, and that’s what I’m working towards now.

Eight months ago I made a start, and it’s been chugging along nicely. I have some Australian dollars in the bank at last. But now it seems as if I have some very steep hills to climb, because I’m not yet where I want to be. I have to keep reminding myself that Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, likens this to being on a fast-moving train. While walking along inside a train, stumbling over objects and stepping back to let others pass, we feel as if we are barely moving. And yet, when we look out the window and see how far we’ve come, with new scenery racing by at breakneck speed, we realise that we are, in fact, covering ground extremely fast.

I hope it’s not just my advancing years which are thundering by at that speed…


6 thoughts on “Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends…

  1. Renting in Melbourne. I hear you sister! Weird, I’m in Melbourne! Maybe skip the resume writing stage and go to the fruit shops opposition and ask to speak to the manager, hiring or not. Sometimes that’s the best way to find work. Good luck! Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Helen. I think you’re right. I’m ultimately hoping to turn the job at the hardware into something more permanent, but it all takes time…


  2. I am so sorry Susan. When I was young I would look at adults and think how much easier they had it, everything figured out. What crap. Things seem to get harder as we get older. But on we go. I wish for a nice job to come along for you soon. You are talented, bright and willing. A good friend mine has a daughter who lives in Melbourne and, after returning from a visit, she told me her impression was of a city that catered very much to young professionals. Is it your experience? Does being older make it harder?


    • Yes, being older definitely makes it harder. Most of the jobs I have tried for are too specific in their Australian qualifications, and some of them filter out us older people by making us jump through highly technological hoops in their long, complicated online applications. For one of them I was asked to upload a 10-minute video of myself using some app on my smartphone, and downloading or uploading it to something or other – none of which I had, or understood how to use, so I gave up at that point. The selfie generation take videos constantly and are fine with this stuff, but a lot of older people don’t find it easy so the actual process filters us out naturally.

      However, the hardware chain I work for is different. It has a reputation for being one of the best employers of older people, because it values life experience. The interviewers never pigeon-holed any of us in the interviews about our actual qualifications but rather concentrated on building a diverse team of people who care about customer service. I love working there and wish it could be more permanent. We shall see…


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