I used to own a boat, back when I was…busier. It was just a rickety thing, enough for getting out in the ocean and that’s about where the usefulness ended. Often I had to fight just to make it back to dry land, but…it was mine. And that was okay, for the time. Then I started working at the docks, and I was seeing a whole load of boats bigger than mine. I’d just moved to Melbourne and marine stainless steel fabrication was all around me, while on the other side of the docks some people were inserting the outer plates into a massive cruise ship. Suddenly my little dinghy didn’t seem like much at all. I was also very suddenly well into the idea of getting my own ship. As in, being the captain.
Bit of a silly dream, but I did learn to love the sea after a bit, and I sort of felt like I could actually achieve something like this. Anyway, I became the boss of the place I was working pretty quickly. I think the old boss had to leave and they thought I seemed like I knew what I was doing…anyway, it was no big deal. I began to learn about how ships are made, because in that industry you just can’t help it while on the job. I talked to sea captains, skippers, sailors, steel fabricators and anyone I could. I asked about the prime types of wood and/or steel for a bow rail, the best types of metal for propellers, even how to hoist a mainsail. While running the business, I was run off my feet…so it took me a bit longer than usual to master sailing a ship-building.
Anyway, I was done in about three weeks, since I did spend a day or two improving the company tax strategy. Could’ve cut it down to two weeks or so, but maybe I slacked off. It doesn’t matter: I was ready to be the captain of my own vessel. Wow, I was stupid when I was young, just getting carried away by thoughts of bow rails and the open sea…and then I never made it in the end. I was kept busy by some other stuff. Important stuff.
Why oh why must I be naturally talented at so many things? Not only am I good at things that I have no need to be good at but I also have this extremely intrusive conscience that impels me to do good for other people. Seriously, I haven’t had any time out for myself in gosh knows how long. I’m too busy getting little kittens out of trees and rescuing old ladies from burning homes. Trust me, I’d rather order in pizza, hire a stripper and spend the evening soaking in the tub with both of them. Alas, this damn innate kindness holds me back.
So the other day I dragged out a couple of my old aluminium platforms in order to do some painting and repairs on my home. Big mistake, I inadvertently exposed my hidden talent for the whole darn neighbourhood to see. Next thing I know I’ve got Jenny across the street and Wilhem from next door begging me to do their painting for them. Jenny reckons she hired some guys to do it for her last year and they botched the job, so she wants it re-done – I reckon she just wants to see me breaking a sweat in my t-shirt with my muscles bulging out. Wilhelm, well, I haven’t worked out his ulterior motives yet.
What could I do, say no? As much as I’d like to do that, as much as I’d like people to stop praising me for how amazing I am at everything, there’s one thing I wouldn’t do and that’s risk the resentment of my peers. I had no choice but to order myself a couple more work platforms and get to it. Thankfully, not only am I dexterous at the art of gable-painting, but I’m also masterfully efficient. They each gave me a prize for my “day’s” labour (from Wilhelm- a cake, from Jenny – a kiss) – little did they know I did the job in a matter of hours, hehe.
Not long ago, I made the mistake of helping a friend out with his IT homework. Ever since, he’s been calling me up all the time. And I mean, all the time. I finally got the chance, in between all of the amazing things I do, to take a girl out for dinner, and what do you know? He’s texting me all through the date. What is it with people taking Melbourne IT courses? are all of them nuts?
I told him to back off. I did. I said, ‘Look, mate I’m taking a girl out for dinner and I’d appreciate it if you laid off the calls for just one night.’ He kicked up a big fuss saying he had an web development exam on Monday and that if I were a true friend I’d be there for him. I said, ‘I’ve been tutoring you for your IT course every night! Give me a break, alright?’
So I go to dinner with this girl and I feel my phone buzzing in my pants pocket, trying to ignore it, shifting uncomfortably in my seat. She probably thought I had problems, it’s a miracle that she even invited me back to her place that night. But there I was, about to learn a little bit more about this girl while all I could think about was web development courses in Melbourne and my mate’s imminent exam. Just as I finally pushed these intrusive thoughts out of my head, I hear this rapping on the window.
It was my bozo friend. ‘Mack!’ his shouted, muffled by the glass, ‘How do I program this command for my IT course?! Help!’
The girl was horrified. She snatched the jacket at her feet and used it to shield herself. Then she turned from him to me and said, ‘Get out.’
I was gutted. Reaching for my own clothes and heading towards the door all I could think about was the blasting I was going to give my friend as soon as I got outside. But then I heard her voice call after me. ‘Wait.’ I turned, and saw too late, her hand reaching up to slap me across the face.
What began as an innocent favour for a friend ended in one of the biggest inconveniences of my …week. This mate of mine was building some software for a game that he and his friends were working on and asked me to help. He was having alittle trouble with the programming and, knowing that I’d read a few book about programming, asked me for some help. Now, this friend of mine is actually taking a video game design course. Melbourne, where we live, has a few good colleges that offer such diplomas, and since getting my help, now he’s hooked.
Remind me never to do any more favours for friends. Every time he gets a new assignment for his game design course, whether that be programming or software development, he turns to me. Seriously I get calls from him at the small hours of the morning which is when emaciated students hunch over their PCs like vampires. Why must they drag us functional nine-to-fivers into their darkened world? Never again will I let myself get sucked into the trap of students who take software development courses.
The problem, you see, is that I was too good at it. I was in a double bind. There’s no way I could have turned him down – he’d have called me a bad friend. But if I’d agreed to help him and then done a terrible job – explained things poorly, made mistakes, etc – then he’d have appreciated my effort but would never have come back for more support. That’s the trick, you see, to be just bad enough so that you never get asked again. There’s only one problem with it: I’m too sincere. There’s no way that I could deceive someone like that. Curse my strong morals and their no-good influence on my life.
Being good at everything sucks. I don’t know why it is that I was cursed with this natural ability to do just about anything. You’d think it were a blessing but it has confined me to a private hell. Contrary to what you may think, being good at everything doesn’t put you on top of the world, but instead has the adverse effect of burdening you with the incessant supplications of the common people with whom you are unfortunate enough to be acquainted. I just thank goodness for tree lopping services, Melbourne wide, for saving me from another inconvenience of having to give favours.
You know how perceptive old people are right? They’ll repeat the question they asked you five minutes ago but they’ll pick up on some minor thing you did five years ago retain it with awe-inspiring tenacity. Thus my neighbour, old man Miles, spotted me lopping down a tree in my front yard years ago and it came back to haunt me. The old codger rapped on my door, wanting to know if I could help him out with tree removal at his property across the street. I looked out at the enormous stump he wanted me to get rid of and thought, ‘Am I ever going to get a minute to myself around here?!’
I put my foot down. I feel proud of myself for showing enough spine to say No, demarcating my limits. He was a little dejected but I told him that there are plenty of companies that do stump removal around Melbourne. He was skeptical of prices and efficiency – he wanted as good a job as I had done in my own yard (and who can blame him?) – and I too offered these suggestions not really believing that they’d be the most economical. But hot diggity if I wasn’t wrong about that. The tree removal company came around and removed the stump without leaving so much as a trace of it behind. And the old man sat around grinning on his porch for the rest of the afternoon.
Call me crazy, but I get the feeling that there’s a guy in this office who really dislikes me. His name is Herbert, I think, and he’s been giving me weird looks ever since I got here. Still says good morning, but in a way that sort of also says that he wants to toss me out the window. So we’ve mostly been ignoring each other, but things came to a head when Suzanne asked me to bring in some of the hyacinth mixed bulbs I have growing in my garden. I just let it slip in conversation, and Suzanne happened to be into flowers so I showed her some pictures…honestly, she’s been wanting to see them for ages since then. I mean, I do what I can with my garden. Right now the hyacinths are looking great, properly blooming in that figure-eight that I planted as the main feature of the garden. And sure, but that’s more to do with the good amount of light rain we’ve been having more than anything else. Anyone could do something like that.
Then I brought in some hyacinths and put them on Suzanne’s desk…well, I caught a glimpse of Herbert’s face. Only for a second, but it was like he wanted to toss me out the window and THEN chuck a sofa right on top of me, then set the whole thing on fire. So yeah, he hates me. Maybe it’s something to do with the policies. He’d introduced all this weird stuff that would save money, but I had to go through it and raise the issue at the meeting. Basically, I made it so the office will be 60% more efficient while not sacrificing employee perks or cutting into work-time. Actually, I do sort of have an algorithm that would mean we could all go home half-an-hour early while improving productivity by 20% but…well, that’s for next meeting.
But that went against what Herbert wanted. And apparently he’s into flowers too, grows his own tulips and such. Fair enough, maybe I’ll just let him be the plant guy. But I tried to give him some of my own tulip bulbs, and I later found them crushed in the bin. Some people are just…hard to deal with.
Being the eldest sibling is a burden. If you were to look objectively at me, my younger sister and my even younger brother, you’d find the absolute perfect stereotype of three kids played out in us. You know how it goes. The responsible one. The forgotten wild card. The rule-breaking arts lover. All of us fit into our slots perfectly.
So my even younger brother is the responsible one, obviously. He wanted to become an esteemed Melbourne conveyancing lawyer at the tender age of eighteen. He exudes authority, strives to please the parents, takes his conveyancing duties very seriously and is probably the most conventionally intelligent of us all. I’ve visited his office a few times, when we were having lunch together. Everyone there is so focused on their work, or their clients. I’m not sure I could work in that sort of environment. Can’t take the pressure. And with property transfers and all that, you can’t afford to make many mistakes.
So that’s my brother. My sister, as the middle child, is the rule-breaker. She was doted on by my parents, not because they loved her more but because of her personality. She got away with most things, chafed under the rule system and has now gone off and joined a travelling group of artists who do impromptu shows all around Australia. The thought of her being a conveyancer is laughable.
And of course, I’m the forgotten one. As the eldest child, I quickly became somewhat overshadowed by my younger siblings, and I was often overlooked in many areas. I didn’t feel overly smothered, nor was I burdened with responsibility. Thus my career as a backup hip-hop dancer seemed the logical option, as well as teaching mathematics on the side. I’ll never measure up to the responsibility of my brother, with his desire to work a fancy Elwood conveyancing job. Neither am I a free spirit like my sister. I am, indeed, who I am. And that’s just not such a bad thing.
Some people grow up with all these skills in a certain area, because their parents did something or another. You see it all the time on TV, like when they need someone to solve a particular case or whatever, and it turns out that their parents did that specific thing as a hobby so now they know how to do it too. I’m not sure it really works like that…I mean, I know people who had medical people for parents and they have no interest or knowledge of medical stuff. Some parents just don’t talk about this kind of thing with their kids, you know? I mean, not that I have experience, because my parents are dead and I never met them, but that’s just how I think it goes.
I’m guessing if you had parents who did like a game design course, you’d be more likely to get into that world because…well, games are just that kind of thing. You want to share the joy of gaming with people, so if they were game designers they’d want their kids to be into the same thing. Actually, as weird as it is that two parents could both be working in the gaming industry, it’s becoming more common. It’s not a ‘boys only’ field any more, so maybe spouses can make games together in the future. But then it might become a flipped case of the child hating video games and wanting to do, like…an IT course. Or they could want to do something TOTALLY different, like medicine. Wouldn’t that be weird? Nowadays, there are so many kids who finish school and want to work with video games because it’s a passion, while their folks try to persuade them to do something sensible…like medicine.
So things could very easily flip around in the future, you know? Tech is becoming a big deal. Not that I’m some future prediction person, but I just feel that’s where it’s going. Meanwhile, I’m not hugely into games, because…well, time. I’ve dabbled, certainly. Had a good time with Airedge, that big open world game with all the dragons, but once I completed it a few hours later I sort of lost interest. Someone doing a video game course in Melbourne needs to make me a game that’ll last!
After graduating from high school, I decided to study web development in Melbourne. I remember the first day of my course very clearly, the mingling excitement and apprehension that I felt, and the thrill of attending my first class. It was a few minutes into my first lecture that I discovered something was awry. I looked around the room at the people in my lecture, wondering what on earth was giving me this feeling. Then it hit me – almost everyone in my web design degree was male.
I’d never had this experience before and felt slightly out of place. I later realised how underrepresented women are in the information technology industry and instead of feeling awkward I began to feel proud. It’s true that times are changing, while there are a few girls like me in my computer programming and game design classes, I guess there used to be even less. It’s obvious that higher education institutions along with the government and not-for-profits are making an effort to promote women to join this heavily male-dominated field.
I learned to cope with being in the minority by befriending my fellow female students for a bit of solidarity, and also making male friends for a bit of balance. After that, I started to take this budding-feminism a little further by reading some femo literature and joining some women’s clubs. It was a great experience to meet like-minded people and show the world that yes, women too can study anything they want, even IT courses. Melbourne is one of the most progressive cities in the world, so what better place to start making positive change. I even sought out some scholarships and funding opportunities that were offered outside of my academy to help me along with my studies. It really did give me a warm fuzzy feeling to know that others are willing to help. Now whenever I find myself in a male-dominated workplace or endeavour, I’m full of confidence that I can do as good a job as they can and bring about some more gender equality in the world.
I’ve been to a fair few funerals in my time but recently when my father passed away, I had my first experience of organising one with a funeral director. My siblings and I shopped around among the funeral services in Perth and found one that we felt would be most willing to accommodate our needs. Dad was a pretty quirky character. He had a lifelong obsession with Queen so we wanted to have some of his memorabilia around during the funeral service, and he had three border collies which he loved dearly, so we wanted them to have the chance to say goodbye. We ended up settling on a funeral home that was willing to meet our needs.
The funeral director that was in charge of
the service was probably the best one that I’ve ever experienced. All funeral directors that I’ve experienced have been compassionate and calm but this guy went above and beyond what I as expecting. I’m going to keep him in mind if I ever have to recommend funeral homes. Perth has a lot of reputable funeral homes so I’m sure there are other good ones. The director that we had at my dad’s funeral service was special because he has a tactful way of comforting the relatives. For example, my sister was becoming a bit flustered and rude when there was a bit of a mix up with the flower arrangement – but the funeral director kept his cool and managed to rectify the situation immediately (After all, it wasn’t his fault that the florist had made a mistake). The experience that this funeral director gave us really made me feel a profound gratitude towards him. Not only did he help us through a difficult time by organising the service, his kindness and understanding actually helped me with my grief. I thought that this man is a kind of unsung hero of our country, no one realises how much of a positive impact funeral directors can make on a grieving person’s life.