Friday, 30 March 2012

(Day 21) The Cold Plunge

Thursday 22nd March (Day 21)

I really wanted a good night sleep before my big first day as a street fund raiser but I didn’t get one.  Instead I spent most of the night trying to get to sleep rather than actually being asleep.  I was feeling uncomfortable about my first day.  Partly because I had so much to remember and take in from the training day and partly because I had never done anything like this before.

I set my alarm for a very early time this morning.  I wanted to get up early to go over the script and the stuff I had thrown at me on the training day.  I also didn’t want to be late after the amount of fuss it caused yesterday.  My first day wasn’t in Sydney itself but a town call Parramatta which was 14 miles west of the city.  I was interested to go to Parramatta because when my mum found out I was going to Sydney she gossiped about it to her friends and heard that Parramatta was a rough place to avoid.  Yes, the one place I was told to avoid in Sydney was the place where my first day as a street fundraiser would be.  Perfect.

I only managed a few hours of sleep but I suppressed my tiredness with a boot full of caffeine.  One of the great things about where I live is that the central train station is literally a 2 minute walk from my house so getting the train towards Parramatta was not a problem.

In Parramatta I met up with the 2 girls I would be working with for this week.  I was paired up with Kate a confident and level headed Canadian girl and Sabrina a happy-go-lucky French girl with frizzy hair.  After going through the script with them a few times it became apparent that some of what I tried to learn during the training day had sunk in, but only some.  There was no time to keep practicing until I was comfortable with the script and what I had to say.  My first day had already started and it was time to get stuck in.  Kate and Sabrina dived in and started collaring people left right and centre.

I had to start collaring people now, it was my job.  The best way to describe what I was going through was saying it was like standing at the edge of a swimming pool.  We have all been there, stood dry at the edge of a pool, knowing that the water is uncomfortably cold for the first few seconds.  There is no easy way to do this; I either start greeting strangers or just stand there is silence and watch them walk past.  I just had to grit my teeth and dive in knowing that it won’t be all that bad.

So I did it, I picked some unassuming bloke or woman (I can’t even remember) forced a nervous cheesy smile on my face and approached them.  Of course they didn’t stop, I don’t think they even acknowledged me but I did it.  I picked my next victim and approached them, and then my next.  I would describe my first half hour as both terrifying and exhilarating, it was a weird combination.  Nobody really stopped for any of us, I was told during training that out of 10 people you greet only 1 will stop for you.  And out of 10 people who will stop only 1 will sign up. 

Later in the morning I finally managed to stop someone.  A young but smartly dressed Chinese woman was polite enough to stop and listen to what I had to say.  By this point I was so used to seeing people just walk past that I was completely unprepared for when she actually did stop.  I cobbled together some parts of the script and made it to the end but I messed up the end part of the script known as the “close”.  Virtually no-one is willed to sign up for charity without a little bit of pushing and the close is a series of statements and clever use of body language that are designed to coax a person into signing up.  She was undecided about signing up and I just couldn’t push her.  The idea of doing the close on her made me feel extremely uncomfortable and she ended up leaving with the statement “I will think about it”.

The rest of the morning was relatively uneventful other than some guys telling me to get a proper job and a guy with a dog telling Kate to fuck off.  The afternoon dragged very slowly.  I wasn’t doing too badly but the lack of sleep from last night had caught up with me and I felt exhausted.  You need a high level of enthusiasm to stop people and having no energy meant my enthusiasm plummeted and really I was stopping no-one.  5 o’clock finally came and it was time to go home.  By this point I was shattered and my legs were aching.  I knew this job would be hard mentally but I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard physically as well.  I literally felt like I had ran a marathon.

My first day was alright but I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard!  I still have a lot to learn as well.

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