Saturday, 5 May 2012

(Day 47) Unsettled, (Fundraising II)

Tuesday 17th April 

Tuesday Games II (stuck in the mud in Martin Place)

Tuesday is a mad day at the fundraising office as I have mentioned before.  My last interview was on a Tuesday and we ended up playing pictorary for a good part of the morning.  Today’s game was stuck in the mud (or tiggy scare crow as I remember it).  We all went outside and played this in Martin Place.  I went to Martin Place on the first day I arrived here, it is a large avenue made up of granite and slate where all the major banks have their main branches.  In short Martin Place is the financial core of Sydney.

Interesting fact: part of The Matrix was filmed in Martin Place, amongst other films.

Remember this 2 minute section from The Matrix?  Yes, filmed in Martin Place
Image from huffington post, no copy write infringement intended.

The good thing about running around Martin Place was the pavement was made from slate and it had been raining since this morning which made the ground very slippery.  I fell flat on my face a few times just like everyone else.  The game quickly resorted to fast walking rather than running.

It was pretty fun though, running around like an idiot with a big group of other idiots.  All these business men wearing their black and grey suits were walking past us giving us funny looks.  I bet they haven’t had this much fun in years.

After 3 rounds of stuck in the mud we headed back to the office where we were put into our teams.  Today I was paired up with team leader Eric and 2 new guys.  Eric was actually from the Canadian fundraising office and had been sent here for a month to fundraise with the Sydney office.  He must be pretty good if he has been sent all the way from Canada.

Washout in North Sydney

I also found out that we were working in North Sydney today which I was excited about.  North Sydney is just across the Harbour Bridge and is a wealthy part of town full of expensive looking office buildings filled with expensive looking people.  I have always wanted to cross the Harbour Bridge and visit North Sydney.

So I would have loved North Sydney, but the weather was terrible.  I had mentioned it had been raining before but it only really started after we began fundraising.  It was a mixture of constant driving rain with the occasional 2 or 3 minute torrential shower.  I never knew so much water could fall from the sky in such a short amount of time.  It wasn’t just the rain as well but the wind was joining in as well.  I thought I would be alright because I had an umbrella with me but no, that broke after about 5 minutes.

This was a disaster, I was on a roll yesterday and I just needed a good day today to continue where I left off.  But today was anything but what I needed.  I was getting soaked and nobody would even consider stopping for me.

Eric, the charismatic Canadian

The only good thing about today was working with Eric.  This guy was a complete nutter.  I loved his opening lines and the way he fundraised.  He would just wave at someone and say “Hi!  Will you talk to me?”  I liked how simple and genuine this opening line was.  At one point he balanced his folder on his head and then started to try and stop people by saying “hi, there is something on my mind that I would like to share with you”.  It made a lot of people laugh, although unfortunately they didn’t stop.

My last chance

Despite Eric’s best attempts none of us got any signups today.  To be honest for 4 people to go out and get nothing was a disaster.  I think the weather was a factor in this but we should have done better.  I learnt a lot from Eric today but I only had one more day to put what I have learnt to good use.  Today was supposed to be my last day but Eric gave me one more day.  So tomorrow I had better bring my A-game.

Friday, 4 May 2012

(Day 46) The Breakthrough, (Fundraising II)

Monday 16th April (Day 46)

The Breakthrough

I was feeling shaky and my confidence was low after lunch.  Nobody had stopped for me in a while and I was in that vicious fundraiser circle of rejection*.  But by late afternoon that had all changed.  By 4 o’clock I was on a massive high.  Throughout the day I had been getting feedback and little tips from my team on how to improve and they were all working well.  What really helped me was watching Will work and borrowing ideas from him.

I think my issue before with fundraising is that I have only work with girls and I’m not complaining but, this was the first time I have fundraised with another guy and it helped me immensely.  There was nothing wrong with the girls I had worked with but I can’t really learn from them.  Girls fundraise differently from guys; they have a different approach and different assets to use. I needed a role model and Will was perfect.  It was his quirky, upbeat approach.

I decided to try it his way and use his opening lines and to borrow some of his quirky attitude and soon I was flying.  I was having so much fun greeting people in this light hearted way.  Before I was greeting people hoping they would stop, but now I was greeting people expecting them to stop.

The afternoon flew past and by 6 o’clock when we finish I still wanted to keep going.  So looking back to this morning I have progressed so much, from this shy shaky guy trying to stop a few people to this confident happy guy bouncing from one person to the next.  I could talk to anyone now, that choking feeling of awkwardness that made the job so hard had all but gone.

And those negative comments from those people this morning?  If having nice people try and stop them on the street for charity is a major inconvenience then they clearly have issues.
And to be honest, they can fuck off.

Anyway, I think I have cracked it, this fundraising job.  The secret is to have fun with the job.  The only issue is that I still haven’t managed to sign anyone up.  I have to sign someone up tomorrow or I will probably get fired.  This would be a shame because I am so close now to nailing this job.  I just hope tonight I sleep well and tomorrow I continue exactly where I left off.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

(Day 46) Chipping away, (Fundraising II)

Monday 9th April (Day 46)

My first real day

Today was my first proper day of working as a fundraiser for the new mad company.  Last week I was ill for 4 days and when I did go in I was sent home for not knowing the script.
Yeah, I had done fundraising before for the last company but I don’t really count that time.  I never really got my feet on the ground with that job.  I count my experience with the last company as an “introduction to fundraising” and this time was my first proper experience in fundraising.  So I have written off last week, and today is the start of a new week. 

I was working in a suburb called Burwood.  The best way of getting to these suburbs is by train since I live just across the road from the main train station.  I always plan my journeys online the night before so I get there on time.  However the internet was not working so I didn’t know how long it would take to get to Burwood, so I just played it safe and jumped onto an early train at around 8:30 giving me around 90 minutes to get to Burwood.

This was great because Burwood turned out to be less than 20 minutes away!  I had over an hour to kill at the train station.  This gave me time to go through my script again but it just wasn’t going in.  I just don’t feel like I can cram anymore into my head.  If I memorise one section of the script I just push another section out of my head.

When the time started approaching 10 o’clock I headed to the ticket barrier to meet up with my team.  This is one of the interesting parts of this job because the only information you are given about your team members are their names, and today I was working with Joy and Will with Joy being the team leader.

It is really interesting waiting in a public place looking at everyone and thinking “is that joy?”
The time was now almost 10 and a train had arrived at the station.  I knew that a crowd of people were just about to come round the corner and I assumed Joy would be among them.  I started playing a game where I would think to myself “the next person who comes round the corner is Joy” ...then some old man comes round the corner, I don’t think that is Joy.

Again, I think “the next person is going to be Joy!” and then some fat old woman comes round the corner...  “No, that is probably not Joy either, I hope not anyway...” 

“Alright, the next person is Joy”, then some little Indonesian looking girl comes round the corner.  “No, that is not her... wait, why is she walking towards me waving?”  It was Joy.

Will was the other member of our team and he quickly appeared out from the crowd.  After brief introductions we headed to our spot to start working. 

Chipping away

We arrived at the place where we were going to fundraise and shooed off a group of fundraiser who were already in our spot.  We managed to shoo off the other fundraisers by playing the ultimate trump card, we had a permit to work in this area and they didn’t.

After they packed up and cleared off we started to get ready and to be honest I was not feeling confident at all.  I had to go through my script with Joy and I really didn’t do that well.  I knew I was on the border line of being sent home again for not knowing my script, probably for the last time but she let me stay and practice.  After 20 minutes of frantically going through the script she threw me a t-shirt and told me to start working.  It was hard, I was keen but nervous.

After a difficult morning we headed to lunch, my confidence was a bit low but I was doing alright.  I had 2 very negative comments this morning.  I was waving at one guy and he said “you can put your hand down mate because I don’t give a flying fuck”.  A middle aged woman I tried to stop turned around and said “I wish you guys would stop harassing people!” in a rather angry voice.  Although they didn’t really bother me at the time I couldn’t get there comments out of my head. 

Was what they said true?  Was I just a nuisance on the streets?  Had I ruined these peoples day?  I don't want to be that guy... I'm a nice guy, I don't want to ruin people's day.  How am I going to get through the afternoon?

Some big announcements

Hello guys, I am making a few changes to my blog:

I am changing my writing

Awesome people keep telling me that they are behind on my blog and to be honest I don’t blame you guys, hell even I am behind on my blog!  Writing about every day is just too intense so I am changing what I write about.  My blog will still be like an online diary but rather than writing about everyday events I am going to focus more on big events.

Life in the picture is returning as a series

Most of you guys probably won’t know this but I am very much into photography.  Actually photography was my second choice as a degree to study at university but lost out in the finals to Civil Engineering.  On reflection I think a degree in photography is probably a waste of time anyway.

But anyway the way this series will work is that I will post a series of beautiful photos following a theme (like buildings, nature etc) all in and around Sydney.  At the same time I will announce what next’s week theme will be so you can look forward to it.  This series will be a weekly thing although I haven’t picked a day etc, either Wednesday or Saturday.  This series will start just as soon as I can afford a proper camera, at the moment I am eyeing up a Nikon D5100 for around $700, eek.

I am going to start using Videos and Video Blogging

I think using the media of video will make telling you guys about my life in Sydney more personal.  I don’t really plan on becoming a “youtuber” or anything big like that, just using videos with occasional narrations.  Videos will be posted on my youtube channel but also linked into my blog like any normal post.  I will start video blogging in the next few days.  I have a reasonable camcorder now but the quality of my videos will improve a lot after I get my Nikon D5100.

And you guys

Let me know what you think of these changes.  I very much appreciate input, comments and feedback so don’t be shy.  You can comment on this post or send me an electronic mail to my electronic mail address at

Thanks, Mike 

Monday, 30 April 2012

(Day 44) A walk on the rich side (sort of)

Saturday 14th April (Day 44)

Tonight I was going out on a night out in the posher and more upper class area of Sydney.  I was heading to a bar/club called The Argyle which was in an area of Sydney called The Rocks.  The Rocks is the north most point of downtown Sydney and it is where the Harbour Bridge begins.  It is right next to Circular Quays which was were the wine tasting was held.

The problem with going out in The Rocks was I had to dress up in a shirt and proper shoes.  I really don’t feel comfortable dressing up like this, I am much more of a tee-shirt and canvas trainers type of guy.

I headed off with Nick (cool English housemate) on the train to The Rocks.  It was late in the evening so all the ticket barriers at the train station were unmanned and open so we decided not to bother getting tickets.  However this is a risk because if we got stopped at some point on our journey by a ticket inspector we would have received an on the spot fine of $200.  It isn’t like in England were you can just buy a ticket on the train.  Here no ticket = $200 fine.

Luckily no-one was working the train and we made it to The Rocks without being $200 lighter.
The Argyle is a large red brick building with many windows.  All the windows are covered in black metal bars and the building from the outside looks like an old prison.

The interior was clearly designed by someone who has a fetish for wood; everything was made from wood.  But not like Scruffy’s, this was good solid wood.  Walking around inside this club was like walking around the bowels of an old pirate ship.

Everyone in the club was dressed in smart evening wear and I think that is what was the main problem with the place; the atmosphere was just pretty stale.  Everyone was just wearing different shades of grey or black.  It felt more like a works party at a law firm than a night out.
Despite all of this I did quite like the Argyle.  I guess it is just nice once in a while to go to a club which is actually a clean and pleasant environment to be in, even when sober.  It was just a polar opposite from Scruffy’s, a place that stinks of booze and body odour.

After a few uneventful hours at Argyle we went on an equally uneventful bar crawl.  I sound like I am complaining but I did have a good night, just not much to talk about.  No girls who were questionable prostitutes, no bar fights and no people getting kicked out.  We just went from one sensible bar to the other.

After a while we decided to head home.  We got the train to The Rocks because it is quite far to walk from Surry Hills where we live.  But we walked the way back and it didn’t feel long at all.  The journey coming back from a night out always seemed shorter than the journey there.

Anyway overall I would possibly recommend a night in The Rocks.  The place is nice but don’t expect anything mental.
Map from Google

neeaarrhh mateys, the crew of the boring ship!

The toilets are actually unisex here, and the
weird illuminated thing in the middle is the sink

Some crazy street with dozens of canary cages hanging above it

We passed this building with a big pile of coal in the middle,
it turns out this building is an art gallery and the pile
of coal is the main exhibit.  I personally
think it just looks like a big pile of coal.

(Day 43) "Gonna start a revolution from my bed"

Friday 13th April (Day 43)

There are 2 things worth spending good money on in life.  Can you guess what they are?
Shoes and beds.  Why?  Because if you are not in one of them you are in the other.  You spend 1/3 of your life in bed (well in my case probably about 1/8 at the moment) and when you are not sleeping you are awake and probably wearing shoes.  They are the 2 unsung heroes of modern day life and they are worth investing in.

The reason why I am saying this is because my new mattress arrived today, only 4 weeks late!  I ordered a new mattress pretty much after the first night I attempted to sleep in this house.  The mattress left by the previous tenant was just horrific.

It has clearly been handed down through generations of tenants each leaving there own mark on it.  When it came to deciding which side of it I was going to sleep on I had to pick the less of the 2 evils.  One side had clearly been slept on by a girl during her menopause, the other side looked like it had been slept on by someone with bladder control problems.  Either way I was in for a rough night’s sleep.

It wasn’t a decent mattress to begin with anyway.  It is basically just a big piece of foam about the width of my fist.  Every time I want to turn over I feel my hip press into the slats of the bed.
After 4 weeks I just feel like I have been in a car crash.  To be honest I don’t even try and sleep at night now because it is just a chore.  I just make do with the odd nap here and there.  But anyway hopefully that will all change now with my new mattress!

The first thing I noticed whilst unpacking it was the smell.  It has that lovely fresh out of the Chinese factory that is clearly breaking all environmental laws smell.  I never knew you could make a mattress out of nail polish remover and cat piss.

Another complaint is that the mattress looks ridiculous on my bed.  The other anorexic mattress looked relatively normal on the little bed I have in my room but this mattress looks huge compared to the bed.

It isn’t half bad though lying on it.  As I was lying down on the new mattress I could already feel my back start to mend itself.  It might look a bit stupid and smell like my old chemistry teacher but it is exactly what I needed.

And on a note about work, since my attempt at work on Wednesday I have phoned up ill again Thursday and Friday.  I think it is just best to write this week off, sleep well over the weekend and start again fresh next week!

The old, about as fun to sleep on as a sack of potatoes 

I dread to think...

The new, looks a bit alien on my little bed

(Day 41) Heroin Highway and "The eyes have one language everywhere”

Wednesday 11th April (Day 41)

Right, well I got my new job last Tuesday and had the training last Thursday.  Today is Wednesday and I have phoned up ill the last 2 days.  Since the weekend I have been ill and unable to get a decent amount of sleep.  I wasn’t feeling much better today but I was worried that the fundraising company were going to fire me before I had even started.  So I made a commitment to go in today.  Today I was working in a suburb called Cabramatta.

I googled Cabramatta and according to Wikipedia Cabramatta is a predominately Vietnamese surburb with a high crime rate and a large drug problem.  An MP was even assassinated here.  Great, I can’t wait to work here!  Though apparently there was a large police crackdown on the area a few years ago and the area is supposed to be alright now.
I got onto the train and headed off to Cabramatta.

At first I was feeling alright but it wasn’t long until I started feeling really ill again.  I don’t know what is wrong with me but I just want to projectile vomit everywhere.  Today I was working with a girl called Sarah and I texted her on the train saying I was on my way but to be honest I was feeling very ill.

I didn’t know what Sarah looked like but it wasn’t hard to find her at the train station with her charity clipboards and folders protruding out of her rucksack.  She said we were waiting for more people and she made me hold up one of the charity tee-shirts in front of me.  I was basically doing the same thing people do at arrival lounges in airports where they hold up a surname on a piece of card or something.  I was doing this with a tee-shirt and I must have looked like the worst fundraiser in the world, just walking around showing the back of a tee-shirt to people.

After a while nobody else came up to us so we headed off to the main high street where we were going to fundraise.  I had to pitch Sarah to show her that I knew my script and, well I didn’t know it.  I have been ill and I didn’t feel like learning it.  I thought I was going to get into trouble but Sarah was really fine about this.  She just said I had to go home and learn it for next time.

One thing I noticed about Sarah was that she was exceedingly pretty.  She had brown hair with bits of red in it, deep brown eyes, perfectly white teeth and a beautiful face.  I had been told she was a good fundraiser and I could see why!

There is another thing about her eyes, Sarah is German and so far I have met 2 German girls here and they both have the same eyes.  And when I say eyes I don’t just mean the colour of the eye but also the shape of the eye, facial structure around the eye and the eye brow.  All of these features were the same in both German girls.

Like both girls look different but they both have the same eyes.  Is this a German thing?  Do all German girls have eyes like these?  Or is it just a coincidence with the 2 girls I have met?

Either way you need to be careful, looking into eyes like these for too long just makes you want to lean forward and kiss that person, which would have been inappropriate for me with either girl.

Anyway another girl showed up after about 15 minutes.  I think Sarah had texted the main office saying that I wasn’t able to work and she needed another person in her team so they sent a girl from a neighbouring team.  You can’t fundraise on your own.

I wished both girls the best of luck and headed off home.  I had to get home, stop thinking about Sarah’s eyes and start learning my script.  Hopefully I will be better tomorrow and then I could start my second attempt at being a street fundraiser.

Cabramatta is about 30km from Sydney

A nice Vietnamese archway

Cate Blanchett starred in a film where she plays a
heroin addict living in Cabramatta.
Apparently heroin was so easy to get the main
highstreet in Cabramatta was dubbed as "heroin highway"