Beast of Burden
Haven’t written in a while. Just didn’t feel like it.
I’m not going into how I’ve been in a knot with myself again lately, because frankly I don’t want to. I try to be accurate about my state of mind in my posts but jesus fuck, we’ve been over and over this before (A Perfect Circle, anyone?) and I’m beginning to bore myself. Suffice to say that I haven’t spent as much time with loved ones as I should have, and somehow I let some whiny, emo mood sneak up on me. Takes for-fucking-ever to get out of that kind of dumbshit rut and in the mean time, I’m just wasting perfectly good potential. Nuff said.
A non-profit organization that I’ve been doing shitloads of voluntary work for, is moving to a new location and want to hire me for a month to assist them with renovations. Painting, painting, furniture construction and some painting. I’m actually flattered that they called little old me for this, I guess it shows they deem me valuable enough to hire spontaneously.
Sacrifices will have to be made (Leonard Cohen was coming to Gent damnit) but it’s a good pay and in all honesty, it’s such a relief to be working at a normal pace for once, for someone else than republic government-sponsoring multinational companies. It’s why I enjoy voluntary work to begin with.
This is the closest I’ve been to a “real” job in over five years. Irony demands that the building is smack next to my very first employer when I was still a kid: GIA Cataro. Anyone who knows this company will feel the hairs in their neck rise when they hear its name, because this is the single worst company in Europe and surroundings you could be hired by. It actually says, “ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTERS HERE” above the main gate.
GIA Cataro does industrial cleaning. The most gruesome, filthy, terrible jobs you can imagine, literally exhausting on physical, mental and emotional level. I spent entire nights, until the sun came up, crawling through machines, scooping up excess grease with a palette knife. I shoveled industrial waste from a conveyor above my head that I couldn’t see, while sparks from welders above me burned through my gloves and skin. “An assault on all senses”, describes perfectly what they should put in their job description.
It wasn’t the work that made me quit, oh no. Because it pays fortunes, and I survived three months off the money I made in one. It was the employer, who doesn’t give a single shit about his employees. It didn’t matter if we worked, we had to look busy. When I tried to point out the lack of common sense in this, I was told to can it. You don’t tell an eighteen year old white kid to shut up; it won’t work. Especially not this one. On top of the fact that I absolutely sucked at what I did and didn’t give a single flying fuck about getting any better, made them decide that they were happier hiring another illegal immigrant. And I couldn’t agree more.
Now that I have found my dream job and am actually taking a spring break from it in favor of another dream job, I look at the Cataro offices with a genuine smile every morning. I got my revenge for the way I was treated simply by finding something better. I can’t imagine where I would be if they let me stay. Dead, probably, and I’m not even kidding.
I often pass them by, those workers. They start earlier than I do and finish later, but every once in a while I see someone leave the main building, possibly after getting verbally abused and fired. They look… tired. Exhausted. And I feel for them, because possibly, they might think that this job is all they have, just like I once did. That there are no alternatives.
I couldn’t possibly be happier that I found mine. To me, it is so essential that I enjoy what I do, that I would have gone crazy in there. As long as the money lasted me, was also how long it took for me to recover. It’s hard to describe how much I’ve changed since, all because they were so generous to throw me on the street. When I see their grey faces behind the windows, I now give them my warmest, happiest smile, hoping (against all odds) that they will recognize me.
I wouldn’t qualify. I don’t fit in school. I could think of dozens of reasons not to try what I recently did, and in fact, I have before. Every year, some company called “the piano factory” (hell if I know if they actually produce piano’s) organizes courses for “assistant stage technician”. I don’t know who they really are, let alone what they’re trying to achieve. Make money? Streamline showbiz to sell more piano’s? Fuck if I know.
What I do know is that their courses are considered among the best of the country, which in turn has a standing worldwide reputation. Out of two hundred candidates each year, eighteen are selected.
Hence my hesitation when my colleague mentioned over his shoulder that he would subscribe, and suggested I do the same. It all just seems to be over my head, you know? I don’t have any degree or diploma, and while I can find ways to make myself useful, on paper I can’t really do a single thing. Flightcase pushing isn’t exactly an acquired skill, and I don’t have a useful degree for my years of experience driving forklifts, operating cherry pickers or building scaffolding. On the labor market, I am nothing. Hardly material to beat one-in-ten odds, I would think.
But, I gave it an honest shot. Since I have technically been unemployed for the past six years, the unemployment office of whatever they call themselves, offered to pay for the course, and through them I got my paws on the right papers.
Among the things to fill in was “why”. Why me? What is my motivation?
It might not seem that way, but I did want to get in. I learned all I can learn on the job now, and this seemed like the logical next step. It could enable me to one day start on my own, and maybe start as a freelancer, combined with other work like photography. It would open opportunities, and would instantly give me something solid to fall back on when I switch jobs. I would be a leap forward, literally more than I ever accomplished in twenty-five years.
So that’s what I told them. I missed my appointment by about twenty-four hours, which they seemed quite unimpressed with, but I think I came across as fairly motivated and ready to endure the long days in a classroom, because there’s a lot of theory to catch up on. My practical tests went smooth as butter (as should be expected from five and a half years of experience as a stagehand) and I was told they would “let me know”. Both my colleague and myself spent the next few days in suspense.
I got selected.
I just went and got selected, considered a better candidate than the men in suits I shared the waiting room with (I came straight from work and sat there dirty and hardly dressed for the occasion). Both my colleague and myself got in, and classes will commence in September. In two months, everything will change, and in a good year from now, I will be an “assistant stage technician” with decent training in sound, light, electrics, recording, and fuck knows what else.
Make no mistake, I will do this. I accomplished this without the slightest bit of help from anyone at all, and I will see it through to the very end. This is my thing and I’ll be damned long before I let myself down after beating the odds like this.
More later. Bored again.