My brief return to the 9-5
Splendour In The Grass, 2022.
Australia’s largest and most anticipated festival.
A 4-day bender of camping, copious amounts of drugs, and indie music.
A group of mates and myself signed our names up to do 20 hours of volunteer work in exchange for a ticket that would’ve otherwise cost $600.
In the days leading up to it though, I was honestly considering bailing on it…
I wasn’t keen to see anyone on the lineup, I’d just recently flown back into Aus from two months in Bali, and all I wanted to do was sit down at a nice cosy desk with a coffee by my side and slip into a solid work routine.
But there were a few things holding me back from doing that:
- Didn’t want to dog my mates after not seeing them for 6 months
- A weird curiosity about working a “9-5 job” again
- Festival girls
Now festival girls need no explanation, but what’s with this curiosity for working a 9-5 all about?
A couple of years ago, after receiving $2,000 from a tax return, I quit my day job on the spot as a barista at Zarraffa’s Coffee and set out to do video game development & YouTube full-time.
Thankfully, it worked out pretty well. So why on earth would I want to go back to working a 9-5 like that again?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. Maybe I just needed a reminder of how good I currently have it? Maybe there’s just something really great about being told exactly what to do, doing it, and then earning money from it?
After all, this would be a clear exchange of time for money, even though it’s technically “volunteer work”.
20 hours of work for a $600 ticket == $30 / hour
Now that ain’t a half bad hourly rate.
All in all, it seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up. Screw settling into a new work routine — IT’S FESTIVAL TIME BAYBEE.
So I loaded up on a weeks worth of canned soup, goon, and snackies — then hit the road to Byron Bay with my merry little band of misfits.
After checking in, unpacking the car, and setting up camp, it immediately started pissing down rain.
This is going to be an interesting week…
To not feel totally guilty about skipping this week’s changelog email due to me not having my podcast rendered out and uploaded — I tried rawdogging the video render with my laptop’s battery life.
It got to about 90% complete after 3 hours and then ate shit, running out of juice.
We went for a day trip into Byron Bay the following day and I tried finding a coffee shop with a power point to plug into.
I failed to find one amidst all of the hippie coffee joints that forced me to articulate that I wanted “cow’s milk” in my Latte since “it’s actually the least popular option here and isn’t normal milk”.
fucking Byron Bay
Suffice to say, the video didn’t get rendered, the podcast didn’t get uploaded, the changelog didn’t get sent, and I missed my first week in 5 months.
oh well, shit happens.
Over the following days, I certainly got my fair share of the 9-5 experience though.
The bureaucratic power trips of supervisors, the constant clock watching to count down how long I’ve got left on my shift, and my favourite part of the entire experience…
the wonderful end of shift high.
It’s one big rush of excitement when you check the time and your shift is up. The “hard work” is over and now it’s time to go back to enjoying life!
I put “hard work” in quotes here because in reality I spent 80% of the time standing around looking pretty and could have easily left without anyone noticing a thing.
All in all though, it was still a fun experience doing some clear, honest, methodical work — however poorly allocated my efforts were.
All of this was put to an abrupt end one morning though when I was woken up by a knock on my tent.
“Randy, are you awake? The boys are leaving.”
The torrential downpour and ankle deep mud had proven to be too much, and now half of our group was doing a runner.
oh shit, now’s my chance.
Now that half of my friends were abandoning camp, and I’d already gotten my fair share of the 9-5 life once again (which was as boring, tedious, and soul-sucking as where I left it), the only thing stopping me from leaving was that illusive festival dream girl of mine…
But if I stay, it’ll be 3 more nights of muddy clothes, two more 5 hour shifts, a damp bed, no dry desk, no warm coffee, and no power point to plug into…
Yeahhh, she can wait another year.
I slithered out of my sleeping bag, stuffed my pack frantically, slung it onto my back, and put SITG 2022 in the rear view mirror.
That coffee shop with a power point had still eluded me though, and I was determined to finish this render. So on the drive back home, I got my mate to drop me off at where this entire journey began…
Back in 2015, I remember jumping out of my Dad’s car to head off to my very first shift at one of these joints back in Townsville.
And here I am writing this today, 7 years later, sitting in one of their franchised coffee shops, sipping a caramel cappuccino, laptop plugged into the wall socket, CPU fans whirring away on a render of the latest podcast ep.
The poetic nature of this entire 9-5 situation I’ve been playing out over the last few days (and really over the last few years) has only just dawned on me…
I used to work at Zarraffa’s, now I’m working in Zarraffa’s.
I’m just so bloody grateful I’m even able to be here, doing this.
I’m not working for anyone but myself, and even then, I’m not really even “working” — I’m just doing shit that I think is cool and somehow not running out of money.
I know I could be earning a whole lot more cashola right now by directly trading my time for money in a 9-5 job. But I’d be working on someone else’s dreams and neglecting my own. I’d be counting down the hours of my shift, waiting for the time when I can really start to do what I want.
I’m not earning much doing what I’m doing right now, but I’ve got my bases covered. I’ve got a roof to sleep under, food on the table, and clothes on my back.
I’m doing what I want to do, and at the end of the day — that’s all that really matters.
This caramel capp tastes bloody brilliant, and the video has just finished rendering.
I’m exactly where I need to be.
Cya next year Splendour