Monday, July 11, 2005

Thinking about work

This long-necked turtle is far more stressed than I am

The other night I caught myself doing something no temp should ever do - I thought about work while I was at home. The sheer beauty of temping is that the job you do is so stress-free that as soon as you leave the office (or on some days even when you're still there) you flick an internal switch and log off. Of course when I'm in my office I'm concentrated and productive (ahem), but the instant I turn off the computer I can stop thinking about it. As such, I have the same levels of work stress as a pot plant - and with less watering. I think that's why office temping is the ideal job for working travellers like me, as it gives you decent money but practically no hassle.

The alternative a lot of people I've met go for is fruit picking - but a day in the sun picking apples or whatever is much harder than it sounds. For a start most of those places have quotas to fill, or you get paid by the box/bag/punnet etc. So you need to work hard to earn a decent amount. Plus they are usually located in out of the way places, and involve repetitive work. One girl I met in New Zealand described people turning up in the morning and jumping the fence in the afternoon to escape, such was the stress levels imposed by their bosses.

Maybe in recognition of this - and the fact that if it wasn't for travellers the seasonal picking industry would grind to a halt - the Australian Government recently announced a change in the visa regulations. The one-year working visa I'm on can be extended for another 12 months - but only if you complete three months of seasonal picking. The changes are due to come in at the start of November - two weeks after my visa expires - but even if they applied to me I'm not sure if I'd go for it. Admittedly it's 9 months of extended stay for 3 months of work, but 3 months is a lot of oranges/cabbages/whatever. Maybe if they broaden the regulations to include office temps I'd consider it - but somehow I doubt they'll be doing that any time soon...