My second week in, there was a company-wide email reminding everyone that it was a professional environment and those not adhering to the formal corporate dress code could be sent home. I was looking for any excuse to go home so the next day I wore my favourite fetish costume.
I didn’t really. It was too hard to pick a favourite. But I’m so sure the email was directed at me because the very day it went out I was wearing a cheap cotton pencil skirt with a cut-off purple silk top.
I’ve never in my life worked a 9-5 job where the most exciting thing to do is chase the fortnightly lolly-man truck. And I’ve certainly never rented in suburbia with a pregnant couple and their two dogs. But this is my life right now. My Saturday morning markets is the bustling Parklea bazaar. Parklea Markets is alive with cheap un-organic produce and caged eggs. People walk around snacking on hot dogs, or for a healthier option you can get steamed corn kernels sloshed in butter and served in polystyrene cups. If you want to buy someone a gift you can get them a FUBU hoodie, some knock-off trainers or a piece of electronic plastic something-or-other imported from Asia. The place is riddled with those gross blue plastic bags, but you can refund your cans and plastic bottles out front for 10c a pop.
This may sound like death on a stick to some of you trendy middle-class twats I’m friends with but for right now, at this time in my life, it’s kinda perfect because it’s giving me the time and freedom to focus on my creative outlets and bigger life plans.
The most stressful thing about work is counting down to 5pm each afternoon, or remembering to pack my lunch because work is literally on an industrial estate next to a waste management plant.
The home life is also totally fine. I mean, the couple are a couple of the nicest and most casual people I’ve ever met. The ONLY complaint I have is that they are the least eco-conscious people I’ve ever spent time with. And not only does their 24/7 commitment to having the air-con on hack away at some of my deep-rooted core values, but I’m fucking cold all the time. I’ve recently put a recycling option in the kitchen to try and forge some new habits.
I also kind of like the whole experience because it’s SO NOT ME. I like to dabble in experiences and different ways of living to help me understand other people’s ideas of normal.
Each morning I walk through my neat-looking suburban street and climb through a hole in the wall, cross the busy highway and take my place in an orderly queue to wait for the bus. This is the way people do life and it’s a long way from the luxuries of London where I had wine available to purchase, just 2-mins walk, 24/7. I don’t have pretty seaside cliffs to jog to like I did when crashing at my brother’s place in Rose Bay. And I certainly don’t have the no-one-living-on-top-of-me vibes I get at my parent’s farm in Mudgee.
But I feel very privileged that I have the option to go from A to B to C to D, if and when I choose. The fact that I can move around and experience different people, places and ways of doing things helps me build a lot of empathy and compassion. Alas, it’s really not an option for most people on the planet. But they are out there finding their own ways to understand and tolerate the human race.
You know, with everything we know about human psychology in 2019, I feel pretty sad that people in leadership positions are still focussing on things like pecking orders and clock watching instead of employee satisfaction and individual growth. But I’m not totally surprised. Change can only happen when there are people willing to speak up about things they perceive to be wrong with the world. Unfortunately most people live in fear of doing so, or feel awkward about it. And that awkward fear is contagious.
With everything I’ve learnt in my 32 years (and look, it’s not that much) I feel a responsibility to be honest about how I perceive things happening around me. I want people to know that “normal” is different for everyone and you don’t have to settle for things that don’t make you happy. We only get to live like, once, so look after each other, don’t work for people who don’t respect each other and try to think about human happiness more holistically than casual Fridays.
A culture rich in ethics and committed to professional values serves to encourage employees by making them aware of their importance to the organization. A company with a poor culture, however, can serve to lower the confidence level of employees.