Saturday, 2 June 2012

(Day 72) Drunken Wisdom

Saturday 12th May (Day 72)

The backpacker’s way of partying

So last night I went to a very smart upper-class nightclub where everyone was wearing a suit (apart from me) and every barmaid was stunning to look at.

I assume this club is one of those clubs where if you apply for a job there you have to send a photograph of your face as well as your CV.  The more attractive you are the more likely you are to get a job.  Working behind the bar or waiting the tables during the day are jobs reserved for the most facially gifted whilst the less fortunate will get jobs working in the backrooms.
I applied for a job in a club like this one and I included a photograph of my face as requested, however they never got back to me...

The Scary Canary

Anyway tonight I went to a nightclub that was completely on the other end of the spectrum.  It is a place called Scary Canary and it was mad.  It is classed as a backpacker bar because it is where backpackers and people staying in hostels go to get drunk and have fun, whereas the Ivy is for people who live in fancy studio apartments with stainless steel fridges go to stand around and talk.

Most nightclubs put an ink stamp on your arm so you can leave to club to smoke and re-enter without having to queue again.  The stamp for a nightclub is usually some kind of symbol that has something to do with the club.  For Scary Canary the stamp was a cartoon condom, I guess this is a club where backpackers go to pull.

Putting the sleazy drunken atmosphere aside Scary Canary was actually very good.  It was a big party atmosphere and everyone was in a good mood.  I spoke to a few backpackers and had some very interesting conversations about travel and where they have been.

Drunken wisdom

One guy in particular gave me some advice.  He said “when someone tells you about a really awesome place, just go there.  Don’t think about it or plan it, just book the plane tickets.  Trust like minded people”

Spontaneous exploration eh?  Of course it is never as easy to just jetting off to Laos like he told me to, but he does have a point.  Over thinking an idea can be a bad thing.  I almost never came here to Australia because I spent ages just thinking about the idea of travelling here to the point where I nearly lost interest.  It was only a spontaneous moment where my mum dragged me to the local travel agent one day to look at tickets that got me here.  We only went in to have a look at prices and we ended up leaving with plane tickets to Sydney!

Being spontaneous is fun, if everything in your life is planned then nothing surprising happens and your life becomes dull.  I supposed becoming a street fundraiser was a spontaneous idea and I had a lot of fun doing it.

I recommend that everyone should try and be more spontaneous.  Just go for it!  Life is full of fun things to do!

As for Scary Canary, it is a good place but everyone inside is very intoxicated.  So if you don’t want to feel left out you will have to get yourself intoxicated as well.  If you do that then you will have a good night.

(Day 71) The Ivy

Friday 11th May (Day 71)

The Ivy

Tonight I was going to some nightclub called The Ivy.  All I knew was I had to dress smartly so I put on my clean t-shirt and my best pair of trainers and headed out to The Ivy.

The Ivy is an amazing looking club, certainly the best looking nightclub I have ever been in.  The club is on several levels surrounding an open top courtyard that is also the main dance area.  A large wooden spiral staircase connects the courtyard level to the floors above.

Down in the courtyard is the stage where the DJ resides.  In the middle of the dance floor is a small island with a real tree growing out of it.  The tree is decorated with fairy lights.

This is only a brief description of the club’s layout; going into detail would require a good full page.

So overall the club looks great, but the night out wasn’t as good as the venue.  The Ivy suffers from the same problem as The Argyle which I talked about a few weeks ago.  The problem being the night was quite boring.  Everyone was wearing suits and people wearing suits are not party people.  They just seem to stand around talking, probably about how shiny their stainless steel fridge is or how many ties they have.

The music wasn’t good to dance to either.  It was just dance songs that had been remixed beyond recognition.  How can you dance to a song you don’t know or recognise?  At one point the DJ played one original song, she played Daft Punk's around the world and people actually started to dance.  Things started to pick up but then the next song was just another unrecognisable song and the party mood died down again.

People watching

So we didn’t really do much in the Ivy.  The most fun I had was people watching.  One couple in particular caught my eye.

There was some shady looking business man near where I was stood.  He had a sharp black suit and a face just like a James Bond villain.  He just looked evil and I could easily picture him being the head of a tobacco company or something on those lines.

He was with a woman who immediately looked out of place.  I had a theory that she was actually an escort rather than his genuine partner.  She kept going off and dancing on her own and then he would go over and pull her back and give her a good talking to saying stuff like “you are supposed to be with me tonight”.  She had that bored expression on her face like coming out here tonight was work rather than fun.

This place doesn’t suit me

So the Ivy is an amazing looking club but it really wasn’t my scene at all.  It is also painfully expensive with a $20 fee just to get through the front door.  I didn’t even buy a drink because I only brought out $20 with me that night and that just got me into the place.  I am sure the drinks here are painfully expensive too.

So in one long sentence (try saying this in one go without taking a breath)
“If you have a lot of money to burn and enjoy standing around not doing much whilst wearing a suit listening to overly remixed music in a nice courtyard fill with people who are also standing around not doing much whilst wearing a suit.  Then the Ivy is perfect.”

The only photo from the night, in front is the spiral
stair case and the courtyard

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

(Day 62) Can I borrow you?

Wednesday 2nd May (Day 62)

Spare 35 minutes?

After the demonstrations we started fundraising at Marten Place where we started the working day.  Despite our hard work I don’t think any of us got any sign ups that afternoon.  Marten Place is full of business people who are too “professional” to stop and sign up to a charity on the street.  I just couldn’t stop anyone.  Towards the end of the day I started to experiment with different opening lines.

For example when I usually try and stop someone I say something typical like “hi, can I borrow you for 2 minutes?”  But after saying that to like the 800th person I thought I would say a random and unrealistic time rather than the standard 2 minutes. 

I approached one woman and said “hi, can I borrow you for 35 minutes?”  She said, “what, 35 minutes?!” with a bemused look on her face whilst she walked past.  It didn’t stop her but it was funny.  Asking for unrealistic amounts of time did actually make quite a few people laugh and it got their attention, but they still didn’t stop...

On reflection going up to a random woman and asking if I could borrow her for 35 minutes might seem a bit dodgy, but it really wasn’t like that.

My plan was I would ask for some random and unrealistic time like “hi, can I borrow you for 27 minutes?”

The person would be bemused and reply “no, sorry I haven’t got time”

I would then reply “ok, how about just 2 minutes then?” 

They would then feel compelled to stop because I have greatly reduced the amount of time I was asking for, I would then proceed to deliver an amazing pitch and sign them up on the spot.

This was my plan anyway...but it didn’t work.

The daily grind
Anyway that was yesterday and today was a new day.  Today there were no anti-mining rallies or games involving eating doughnuts off a piece of string, just solid fundraising from 10 till 6.

But today I wasn’t having much luck.  Yesterday I couldn’t stop anyone and it just felt like I was treading water all afternoon and the problem was today pretty much felt the same.

Both these days were a stark contrast from Monday when I got 2 sign ups and felt like I was on fire, and I am not doing anything differently since Monday.  If anything I am feeling more confident and outgoing.  I should be stopping more people than I did on Monday but it just wasn’t happening.

By the afternoon I was still on zero.  Alexis told me to keep going and it would happen but nothing did happen.  Actually something did happen, I got fired.  Laugh out loud.

Enough now

I wasn’t expecting this to happen so quickly.  I knew fundraising was very cut throat but it is only my 3rd day and I got 2 (or 1) sign ups on my first day.  But by 5 o’clock that evening I was on my way home.

Alexis was very nice about it, he said I was a very hard worker and I was good...but I didn’t have enough sign ups to stay.  He asked me what we should do and to be honest if I defended my position I probably could have been kept on for an extra day.

But I was done with fundraising.  It had gone from being fun and exciting to just feeling like a job.  I felt like I had taken everything I wanted from street fundraising.  Improved confidence in public speaking and other stuff.

I always knew this was going to be a temporary job, maybe a bit more temporary than I planned but still... it was fun whilst it lasted.  Now I look forward to my next job!

Monday, 28 May 2012

(Day 61) Trouble in paradise

Tuesday 1st May (Day 61)

Trouble in paradise

Don't forget to check out my Youtube video on the bottom of the post

Tuesday games

Tuesday is the day where we have the group meeting at the fundraising office.  I haven’t been looking forward to this day because I was going to see all the people I used to work with.  I was worried that I was going to walk into the office and get lots of funny looks like “what is he doing here?” “Didn’t he get fired?”  But since I got 2 (or 1) signups yesterday I was feeling a bit more confident.

As with every Tuesday we had some random team game to play and this week’s game was eating doughnuts off a piece of string.  There were 2 teams, one member from each had to lie down on the ground and eat a doughnut being dangled just above their head.  After that person has finished and swallowed the doughnut the next person lies down and eats a doughnut etc until everybody in that team has eaten a doughnut.

Trying to swallow a doughnut as fast as possible whilst lying down was a bit of a choking hazard and I am sure this game wouldn’t be allowed back in England because of our overzealous health and safety laws.

We lost this game because we had more people in our team (something we only realized after the game had ended), not like it really mattered, we all got to eat a free doughnut.

After losing this game we headed out to work, but today started a little differently...

Crowds at Marten Place

There was a protest in the streets today and it started off in Marten Place which is just near the fundraising office.  It was an environmental protest against the proposal of CSG mining on some land called the Liverpool plains which are about 300km north of Sydney.

Marten Place was filled with protesters who I assumed were mainly from the Liverpool area and had travelled down to Sydney for the rally.  Many of the protesters were carrying large signs that had some kind of anti-mining message on it.  There was some media coverage at the rally with TV crews and photographers getting in amongst the crowd.

There was even a mascot at Marten Place.  The mascot is called Dirtgirl and her purpose is to encourage children to get involve with the environment.  I guess they chose the name “Dirtgirl” over “Dirtygirl” because Dirtygirl would have been considered inappropriate.  I personally think Dirtgirl looks really freaky and when Alexis (my boss) went to talk to her I stayed well away.  You can google Dirtgirl and have a look at her freakishly deformed face yourself.

Alexis told us that we would follow the rally for a bit that morning because the charity we were representing was actively involved with the mining issue and shared the same agenda as the protesters.  I guess you could say this was part of our training; Alexis wanted to make us all ecomentalists.

March of the farmers

The crowds started marching pretty much as soon as we arrived at Marten Place.  Looking around the crowd was predominately made up of middle aged country people with their beige shorts and round brimmed sunhats.  Their complexion would suggest that they spend a fair amount of time outside in the sun (polite way of saying rednecks).

Their destination was some political building (possibly the mayor’s house) which was only about a 10 minute walk away from Marten Place.

A bit of science

Coal seam gas or CSG is where large quantities of natural gas can be found in coal found underground.  With this you can both extract gas and then mine for coal at the same location.

However like with any mining project there are environmental impacts associated with CSG, mainly regarding contamination of the neighbouring ground water which could lead to water pollution.  (This is all from what I have read from Wikipedia by the way).

Lost agenda

After a short walk we arrived at the political building and the crowds lead by some guy with a megaphone started repeating anti-mining chants.  Some of the more memorable chants include:

“Country and city, united we stand, protect our water, protect our land”

“Farming, yes, fragging no, coal seam gas, got to go”

I learnt that the original agenda of the march and protest was to persuade the government to force the mining company to carry out thorough research into the environmental impacts of mining with regards to water contamination.

But looking around this agenda had clearly been forgotten.  People here were against the mines outright.  It seemed that they were not only against mining in the Liverpool plains but against the idea of mining all together.

To them mining was a sinister and evil practice run by greedy corporations.  It is true that mining is a lucrative business in Australia with the mining sector being the best paid job sector in the whole of Australia.  Apparently the average starting salary working in the mining sector exceeds $90K!

Back to work

The chanting continued for a while and after about half an hour we decided to leave and start fundraising.  Trying to listen to some woman holler down a megaphone about the environment was getting boring very quickly.  I was worried I was going to fall asleep standing up.  I couldn’t really make out what she was saying but I am sure if was all very interesting in an environmentally biased way.

Overall I enjoyed spending time amongst the protesters; it is certainly not a typical way to start a day’s work.  I love how untypical this job is.

Media coverage included both amateurs students and professionals 

Alexis talking to some old woman and Dirtgirl, the hideous mascot 

A small part of the crowd

This sums up the general feeling towards mining

On the march

Outside the political building, imagining opening
the front door to see this mob outside your work place

I have made a video to accompany this post,
check it out here on my Youtube channel