Bar work is hard.
Non-stop serving and cleaning up after alcoholic old men, hauling around trays of heavy jugs and other glassware, helping customers throw away thousands of dollars on our TAB and poker machines when I’ve seen gambling destroy the life of a loved one. After working various hospitality roles since I was 16, I thought pub work would be more of the same. But I now long for the relative ease of the Cornish chippy everyone loved to complain about.
Some shifts, I work over 9 hours without a break (definitely illegal), and my feet are so sore by the end, and my back so tight from all the heavy lifting, all I can do is collapse in bed. The hours don’t suit me either. I’m an early bird, and working into the small hours of the morning, way past my usual 10pm bedtime, is turning me into a fiercely reluctant night owl – not ideal when Tom is on a 8-5 time schedule.
The knowledge of recent armed robberies in the area does spice things up a little. In the past few months, local pubs and takeaways have been the target of gang hold ups, guys with guns and knives threatening staff at closing time to get their hands on the day’s earnings. Two workers at the Dominoes a few minutes away actually got stabbed not long back. So that’s pretty scary. We’ve been told that as long as we follow the emergency protocol (cooperate, be passive, preserve life) everything should be fine, but all things considered I’m looking to leave this place as soon as possible. Because worse even than the exhaustion and underlying threat, it’s painfully unfulfilling.
I’ve been sending off application after application, but replies are slow or don’t come at all. Nothing has really grabbed me, either. I even turned down a job I was offered in a medical laboratory. It just didn’t feel right. The problem is, I’m still not sure what I want to do. All I know is that I want to be happy. Travel the world and have a loving family and do yoga and write books. I’ve struggled with not having clear direction a lot, but I think it’s ok. Not knowing, I mean. I’ve had a few breakdowns thinking, shit, I don’t want this to be my life – stuck working in a menial job for minimum wage, letting dreams remain dreams and all of a sudden your life has passed you by. But I won’t let it. If you want something, you have to be responsible for making it work, and wallowing in your current situation will never help. It’s all temporary and I feel super inspired to discover the next compass bearing of my journey and follow it. I just have to build up a little money first.
Yoga is really helping, with my strength inside and out, but even better posture doesn’t save my back from aching after a long shift. I’m also trying to stay connected with things I know I enjoy to avoid being lost in the ratrace. I’m volunteering at Orana Wildlife Park – Christchurch’s local zoo. I love my days there, wandering around the reserve, talking to visitors about the animals and seeing their eyes open to some of the important issues they face. Most of the other volunteers are actually retirees, and chatting with them is one of my favourite aspects of the job. They have so many inspiring stories to tell, of their lives and travels, and I’m so filled with hope of what I too can achieve.
Something I’ve learned and like to focus my meditation on is this: when you feel lost, or when times get hard, remember…
You can change your whole world if only you change your mindset.