Return to Civilization

There is nothing more in this world that I appreciate more than change. I don’t know what this almost pathological urge to keep moving is about, but it propels me to travel, so I’m not complaining. I love being in transit, changing from one country, city, town, suburb to the next. I even got a perverse kick out of some of my uglier break ups. That feeling you get after you’ve finally mustered the courage to tell him to get lost is not unlike the feeling I get from getting off the plane or bus: freedom and possibility.

All that said, there is a serious dearth of possibility and change in my current situation. In short, I am bored. The outback is boring. It is insufferably flat – would it kill them to have some hills? Seriously. My severly under air conditioned existence (it is also insufferably hot) is constricted to a shed barely suitable for a lawnmower, and appears to be held together by ancient yellow foam and spider webs. I suspect it is primarily the spider webs that are keeping it intact. Also, I’m fairly certain I could train the spiders to do my job.

There was a huge thunderstorm two weeks ago that we are still feeling the effects from (farming and rain do not get along so well). The storm itself was cool. It was three Tuesdays ago, around 3 in the afternoon, the exact time when the day really starts to drag and the heat headache settles in. On this day, however, it had begun to cool down and dark clouds gathered. The power in my shed had already begun to flicker on and off. Grace called me from her shed and told me that a girl working the weighbridge (my job) on another site had been hit by lightning. She survived but was in the hospital, in rough shape. Apparently this company hadn’t splashed out for lightning rods. (The following week we got a notice saying we needed to be on the look out for “electrical incidents”: safety is in our hands. Right, thanks!) We hung up and left our sheds in record time. I laid down on the concrete slab beside my shed and watched the storm gather from underneath. Grace joined me and we pointed our cloud shapes to each other, as you do. That one looks like a dinosaur; that one’s giving us the finger, etc. And then the storm really started. The rain was torrential; it monsooned. We even got a little bit of hail. And the lightning was biblical. I spend the night in my room, listening to the rain and the leaks dripping from the ceiling, and reading a Stephen King novel.

For the following three weeks, our site was dead, even more forgotten than usual. We had a smattering of trucks here and there, but mostly we sat around and watched movies, napped and ate. I’ve got to say, working was better. Sure, it’s stifling hot and that shed is a horrible hole of a “workplace”, but at least I was doing something that required me to be upright. I can’t complain, though, I did get paid for all that loafing around. It could be worse. It could always be worse.

Now, in the last few days before Christmas and the end to this experiment in sanity retention, time has slowed down. We are a little busier, though. We worked last weekend and everything. Steve was convinced that we needed to be open on Sunday, too. Grace made up a doctor’s appointment so she could go back to Perth, but such was Steve’s conviction that I was stuck here and we brought in another lady to do Grace’s job. We did not get one single, solitary truck. Nothing. When Terry, Grace’s fill-in, showed up first thing in the morning, she was all energy and action. She cleaned, she organized, she dressed Steve down for all the things he’s been doing wrong. By 9:30, she looked at me and asked, “Is it always like this here?” She looked as despondently bored as I felt. The poor thing wound up sitting around all day while Steve chatted her ear off and made her watch ventriloquist videos. Eventually she retreated into the sample shed, even though there was nothing to do.

Thanfully, its nearly over. A couple of days left to deal with the heat and the bugs and Steve, and then it’s back to civilization. I could not be more excited.

Here is a short list of the most interesting things that have happened since my last entry:

1. Steve got a snake. A tan colored python with evil looking yellow eyes. He named it Jack, and he spends a great deal of time talking to Jack, especially in the mornings and nights, when I’m trying to sleep. Upside: it’s slightly less disconcerting than when he talks to himself.

2. I had a battle with a giant huntsman spider. I won, but he put up a helluva fight. Apparently you could hear the screaming from all of the way down the road. Every time I thought I had killed it, it sprang to life again. Eventually I got one of the trucks drivers to run it over. Grace and I have a running joke that spiders are the real causes of the world’s problems. The recession: bad advice from spiders; Corruption and crime: spiders; Twilight: written by spiders. This is what conversation is reduced to when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do by watch the time go by.

3. One of the farmers took me out for a ride on the header – the giant lawnmower they use to harvest the grain. I was left with exactly two impressions: it is very dusty and loses its novelty in about a minute. The machine literally drives itself. I did learn a lot about farming, and saw the countryside a bit more. The farmers are very passionate about their land. And I can see why. There is something beautiful about all that empty space. However, my overwhelming conclusion is that I am definitely a city girl.

4. Nearly got asphyxiated by “organic” fly spray during a particularly horrendous fly infestation in the hut. It was like Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, but the “The Bugs”.

Civilization, here I come!

Happy Christmas, Everyone 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Return to Civilization

  1. Jamie, I am finally catching up with your blog. You have succeeded in making me interested in visiting Western Australia, but not to work in grain receival. Are you leaving that job for good or just for a weekend in Perth? And what do you mean by a second year visa? If you work in the middle of nowhere for 3 months, you get a visa good for 2 years? I hope you will be spending Christmas with new friends as you think of your family back home. I had one unforgettable Christmas in Vietnam when I had dinner with a couple of German travelers on the roof of a hotel in Saigon and watched the streams of traffic below. You are intrepid. Life is complicated. Merry Christmas!

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    • Susan, I am so late in responding to your comment! I nearly forgot about this blog… I am long overdue for an update. I hope that 2012 is treating you well. I do recommend a visit to Western Australia, especially if you stick to the coast and avoid the farmlands! The second year visa grants you another year after your first working holiday visa has expired. So it’d be a total of 2 years – that is, unless you then apply for a student visa or find an employers to sponsor you becoming a resident. Cheers! 🙂

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