Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

A week in Moomba

Written April 26.

My week of desert work has come and gone. I am back in Adelaide. I’m adjusting back. Sort of.

The week took on a somewhat expected arc.

The first couple days were hectic but fun. I didn’t mind having my brain off. I didn’t really talk to people and people didn’t really talk to me. So it goes.

As the days went on I started to get to know my coworkers. People flew out. People flew in. The crew shifted. Some I worked better with. Some less so.

I got to know the person training me and giving me directions. She’s been here for a while, has a father that lost a limb in WW2, and she is generally pretty friendly. I got to know the people I was scrubbing pots with. Another contract worker, this one employed directly by the site company. He knows movies, knows the other sites, and we found a really good rhythm of taking on the tasks of the kitchen. Most importantly for our getting along, he is also a bit innovative and organized. In spare moments we would organize the stock room, the ice cream shelf, the breads, the cereal closet. By the end of the week the things we needed were exactly where we knew to find them. The system was in place. The other main kitchen hand I was working with was a taller guy, looked a bit more British, and was equally conversational. He gladly took on tasks to help us out when we were struggling, even if it meant his work was falling a bit behind. One of the cooks had stories of world travel and hitchhiking and working at tourist resorts for crappy managers. The kitchen boss was new to the position, an immigrant from Zimbabwe who was feeling the weight of the expectations of the role and upper management and an impending massive kitchen renovation. Again, someone I could talk to and joke around with. The whole group seemed to click.

Each day I learned a couple new tasks that needed to happen to get things set up. By the end of the week I could do everything myself. Granted it took all of us to get it done, but if Jon was working on the tables, I could deal with the fruit. If Luke was cleaning the floors, I could bake up the bread rolls. We had it under control. The whole machine moved along well.

My feet stopped hurting after a couple days. I learned to switch up what I was doing to keep my body working. We tapped in and out of various tasks to keep things rolling.

On day 5 I took the night off. It was my weekend for 11 hours (including sleep). I watched a movie and felt relaxed condensed into my few conscious hours.

On day 7, my last full day, I started to hit a wall. I lost faith in people a bit. Not the people I was working with, but with the people eating there. I watched someone pocket two wedges of blue cheese. I watched another spread cheese from the buffet onto a cracker in his hand, eat it over the buffet, and then repeat. I put away about 30 condiment bottles left on tables by people who couldn’t be bothered to put them back where they got them from.

The last morning was a final shift in the kitchen, running smoothly and finishing up the week. Then I boarded a plane, falling asleep before takeoff.

I walked away from the week happy. I had clocked about 75 hours. The hourly rate was pretty good. And I had spent a total of $3.70 in my time there. Until I see my paycheck I don’t know exactly how much went to taxes. But the week put a good dent in the damage I’ve done in my 5 months of travel. Not close to all of it. But it is a very solid start.

If I can get back up there again, or to any such site, I will be happy to rinse and repeat many times over.

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This entry was posted on May 2, 2012 by in Australia, South Australia (Adelaide).

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