I AM about to start a new job. After some careful calculations I have realised it will be my 30th. This comes as no great surprise to me as I clearly remember thinking during my last year of high school in 1976 — well, that’s not completely true, because I did very little thinking during most of high school — but in that final year I did have an ambition, and that ambition was a life of variety.
To the concern of my parents, a four-year apprenticeship followed by 35 years of doing the same thing was, to me, akin to a life sentence. Four years of university had a similar nonattraction. Boredom and routine were a combined disease caused by being in a rut and I wanted no part of it. Ever.
I’d like to tell you about my new job but I can’t. I don’t have it yet. It will be in media sales, environmental rehabilitation, as a coal technician or a marine officer. I don’t know where it will be, how much it will pay, what the hours are or what I will be doing exactly. One of these four will probably eventuate, though. Or not.
This is the addictive beauty of job variety. It’s like driving through an unfamiliar city and taking streets at random just to see where they lead. And then living there for a while.
When it’s time to submit a resume, which can be a seriously limited representation of an applicant, I am the master chef of applications. There is an abundance of job ingredients to choose from. My personal best at one job is three years, but that’s only because I had to sign up and the army is fairly inflexible.
To reach my 30th job I have had to work two, and sometimes three, jobs at a time. I once spent a couple of years being kicked, bitten and trodden on by a stable full of racehorses. I would pick up their manure, wash them down and clean their stables. Then, on the weekends, I would work as a riverboat captain and take 60 passengers on a two-night cruise.
I have spent every weekday running personal development courses for the unemployed and then gone to work as a deckhand on a parasailing boat on the weekends. I have taught hospitality at TAFE during the day and worked in a video store in the evenings, and I have driven a courier truck by day and been a futures trader by night. I have become so good at job applications and interviews I could teach it. Actually, I have occasionally been paid well but, alas, the bestpaid jobs seem to be the shortest ones. If we are defined by what we do to make a living, then I have no definition — well, depending on when you ask and what I’m doing.
There is no money in this lifestyle. I have made some wrong choices and been down to my last dollar many times, but I have never had to resort to unemployment benefits and the variety of new experiences, interesting people and different places is invaluable.
As for best and worst jobs — as an activities officer at a resort on the Gold Coast playing tennis, hosting cocktail parties and playing beach volleyball or driving a courier truck 12 hours a day on the Sunshine Coast for $15 an hour — I benefit from every job.
Now I’m starting to wonder, however, if I may be suffering from some sort of disorder as I’m also driving my 17th car, but thankfully only my second (and final) marriage. Stability dysfunction disorder or not, I have achieved my ambition. I have no tedious routine in my career, no longterm predictability and no rut I cannot skip out of. Sometimes though, I wish I did.