Triumph of BacchusCiro Ferri

I’ve got two words for you, you poor miser … time management.

It’s been nearly a week, since my home town erupted into an explosion of activity over 3 days, before relaxing somewhat prematurely for the Melbourne Cup Day.

As for me, I haven’t stopped working since last Thursday. Even on Monday, I had to come in briefly, because of a SNAFU with the roster.

I’m staring at the rest of week, balefully. I’m not given any rest until next Monday, with excruciatingly long shifts on Thursday and Friday.

But this is what happens when your entire workforce is made of university students. Exams arrive and you’re left to shoulder most of the shifts for a store you couldn’t really care less about.

What struck me though, is how my mind and body reacted to the realisation that every single day was no longer aimless at home, but aimless at work.

Retail and hospitality had been given such a long break, nigh 2 years, that it made us forgotten just how tiring work can be, despite standing around for 8 hours at a time. The freedom that we relished and could enjoy, due to government benefits ($750.00 AUD a week) meant that we could pretend for once, to be living on a higher plane than what was previously established in our minds.

Is this what it feels like to be rich? pondered most of us, as we gleefully saw every Friday, another 3/4 of a grand pop into our accounts, for doing absolutely nothing, beyond eat and exercise.

However, whilst our loftier corporate brethren continued their work, from the comfort of their home, upon the “resumption of normalcy” we were shoved back into the daily, dull grind that we had forgotten for the past 2 years.

It made me aware of how much luckier those “higher paying” jobs got it, in a post-COVID world. They could continue to stay at home, clock in over-time, wake up later, get paid more, and more or less resume their COVID-normal lifestyle.

Whereas I am back here, my elbows covered in scars from cardboard boxes, sweating in a uniform, dusty from misuse and once again plastering a fake smile in my eyes, disguising the grimace that was hidden from view underneath a stuffy mask.

It’s an interesting mental gymnastic to perform, because the whole world screams at you …. “Aren’t you glad to be back at work and greeting society again?”

For hospitality and retail workers, I can see the slight dread behind every pair of eyes, the reluctant compliance, as we long for the more relaxed work hours, we enjoyed for the past 2 years.

It’s fascinating to me, how I enjoyed the adrenaline rush of serving customers again, for the initial 3 days, before here I am, settling into the job again, dreading my future shifts and half-arsing greetings.

Perhaps it’s the 8 hours talking, but I’m not missing the feeling of slightly aching knees, the terminal boredom and the anxious looks at the clock, eager for the shift to be over.

However, it is this feeling that is driving me to find a way out of here. I’ve been stuck in this retail limbo for so long, half of which isn’t even my fault.

I’m eager to be my own boss, to be productive for shorter tints, instead of long 8 hour days. I can’t help but look enviously at other countries, where they are striving for 4 day work weeks, which have accrued only net positives.

At first, I thought that I couldn’t hack it. That I had some mental deficiency. Why could the rest of the world accept this standard, whilst I couldn’t? There were so many jobs before, where I literally fell asleep at the desk, my mind unable to function, like everyone else around me. Staring at the screen for 8 hours a day, drained me faster than whirpool.

I was reprimanded, and told to sharpen up. “Look Damocles, but you can’t fall asleep at work. Do whatever it is you have to stay awake and continue working.”

So I took to buying energy drinks. Stretching at random times. Snacking incessantly. Anything to stay awake from 2pm onwards to 5.30pm. I marveled at my colleagues, who stared at the screen for hours and continue to grind away.

But I gave up. I decided that desk work wasn’t for me. I was going to go back to retail and hospitality. At least, I was on my feet all day. There was no way I could fall asleep whilst standing.

And it remained true. But I still got incredibly bored. I mean, this whole blog, exists simply because there is nothing further to do at the shop. I operate too quickly, pack, bag, serve, restock … far too fast. 3 hours in and I’ve run out of things to do, except wait for the next customer.

Which, on a boring Wednesday, can be a while. Amazing, how “normal” is still as quiet as it was before. People aren’t loaded with endless cash after all.

But I digress.

I’ve realised now, that I’m not weird but I am different.

I just choose not to agree with the fundamental concept in which society operates and define “full-time” hours.

And this choice to not accept the status quo, to question it, and define it by my own health and enjoyment out of life is the key to the dissatisfaction, sleepiness and depression I’ve gotten out of every single job, in my employed life so far.

It is my humble opinion, that the average human out there, spends far too much time working and not enough time living. When you look at the average 24hr cycle, an entire third is dedicated to work, and another third is lost to sleep.

Sleep is NOT something that you can just factor in. You have to sleep. It is not an option to eliminate sleep, so in all honestly, a day should be divided in 16 hours, half of which is spent at work.

But that’s not really true is it?

Because you need to factor in morning schedules, and commute, and suddenly the time you have for yourself is now looking like 6 hours out of 16.

6 lousy hours … spent without the sun on your face, seeing your friends for a reasonable amount of time, or indulging in a hobby.

It boggles my mind, that we, as a society, have just accepted that we only get to enjoy A QUARTER of our 24hr day.

And that quarter is not even enjoyable!

Because … I can’t shop in that 6 hours, because everything is shut by 5.30pm, I can’t really enjoy a dinner out, because things are shut by 8pm, and I definitely cannot fully enjoy my friends’ company in the limited 4 hours, because I need to be home by 9pm, ready to do it all again tomorrow.

What about retirement? I hear someone yell from the back. You can enjoy your retirement!

Oh great. When I busted my knees already from 40+ years of hospitality and retail, possess limited savings, and am essentially listing to and fro on a fucking wheelchair. Yeah, thanks, I’m really gonna love my retirement in my 70s, when I got 2000 health issues, limited money and I can reminisce about the time when I spent my PRIME YEARS WASTING IT IN A SHOPPING CENTRE FOR 8 HOURS A DAY.

How about you start questioning things? is my reply to that moron who asked. How about you think about how life should be improved, instead of accepted.

The point I am trying to make here is, why do we just accept that life is shit?

Your youth, beauty and energy should not be wasted and squandered every single day. I think that it is unacceptable that we only get a quarter of a day to ourselves.

Perhaps I am alone in thinking this, but that is precisely why I am working my arse off to try and make my own job, where I can dictate my own working hours and fulfill my health, desires and hobbies.

I realised this the moment, I struggled to respect my bosses, despite me liking most of them. It was because, at the end of the day, they were enforcing this unhealthy lifestyle on me, and I simply could not get over that fact.

I had to be my own boss. In the end, I want to call the shots over my life, because … why the hell shouldn’t I have that right?

It is genuinely amazing though, how the tiny interim period, where COVID was receding in early 2021, where retail was half open and half closed, that I discovered just how important it was for me to balance work and life.

Because for once in my life, I had the optimum amount of working hours to not hate it, yet heaps of time to exercise, cook and go out with my friends, without worrying about my bank account.

At the end of the day, I don’t care that I make less money, I just care that I can enjoy tennis, friends, go-karting, writing, reading and fine wine and dining all on my own time. Work is work.

Work isn’t life. It’s fucking work …. you’re lucky if you only hate work quarter of the time.

Which is all it should be in a day, a quarter of your 24hrs.

Life is precious. We all think we’re going to live forever, but you don’t know that. At any given time, you can get cancer, get slammed by a truck or have a goddamn piano dropped on your head. It’s important to enjoy the now.

It may seems like I am a huge hedonistic asshole, but when I look at the overall schemes of things, it’s so much better to be self-indulgent, than to be some miser that accepted their lot in life and will always be miserable.

Take some agency back in your life … you’ll thank yourself later.

~ Damocles.

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