Almost from the instant our family set foot in Australia, my folks were employed by Australia Post.
Dad was as a postie riding on a rinky dink motorbike while mum sorted letters parcels in one of Canberra’s oldest post offices, looking after all the Parliament House mail. (Saucy!)
Here’s dad, looking dashing in his full postman’s uniform, chest swelling with pride.
Yet, the immature teen in me wanted to hide from the truth and wished my parents weren’t so…you know, “blue collar”.
Anyway, throughout their working life, mum and dad have stayed true to Aussie Post.
Despite switching locations a couple of times, for over 20 years, they’ve both been assigned to the same jobs at the Mail Centre, on night shift. (An easy recipe to make any married couple get stabby).
Being a destitute first year uni student, mum thought she’d do me a favour and submitted my name to work as a Christmas Casual at her workplace. Like mother, like daughter, she also had me apply for the graveyard shift.
“Night shift pay good money! Penalty rates high!” she would try to convince me in her broken English.
And lucky for her, I was accepted.
As part of training, a dozen of us sat in a small room, learning all the postcodes and suburbs of Canberra. Riveting stuff.
Then, sitting in little cubicles with rows of pigeon holes and piles of mock letters with either only the suburb or the postcode written before us, our task was to place them in the appropriate slots as quickly as possible.
The faster you were, the better.
Lightening speed mail sorters! Activate!
Having to work in a place filled with fork lifts, heavy boxes and crates, protective footwear was mandatory. We were all provided a pair of steel capped boots and gee, they were dead sexy!
We would “bundy” in at 10:00pm sharp and work through till 5:45am with 2 x 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute “lunchtime” at 2:30am.
It only took a couple of shifts for me to endure the hard slog and realize how bat shit crazy my parents were to have been doing it for years.
The delegated tasks were brutal. Mentally and physically.
Sitting in a cubicle sorting letters was so mundane, there was the fear of falling asleep at the chair.
The alternative was to on your feet for at least 2 hours sorting big, heavy parcels, tying up the mailbags when full then lugging them onto the huge crates.
Getting home as the sun cracked through the horizon made it awfully difficult to get to sleep. No matter how many blankets I draped over my bedroom windows, the summer heat would seep through, keeping me up.
Sleep deprived from nocturnal hard labour, I was a wreck.
And yet, my mum was right. The money was bloody awesome.
Although, that wasn’t enough for me to stick around.
I ended up doing the nightshift Christmas Casual gig 3 years in a row. My stints were short, approximately 8 to 12 weeks.
My parents on the other hand, are just about to hang up their steel capped boots and have just handed in their resignation, a couple of months shy of Mum’s 80th birthday.
After these experiences, my attitude also changed.
People bag the crap out of Australia Post all the time but I’m glad I did my time there. Not only do I now appreciate what intensive manual work is about, my parents showed me what bloody tough nuts they actually are.
Joining the lovely ladies at The Lounge, hosted this week at Kim’s Falling Face First.