After finishing my PhD study in Australia, I handed in my thesis and waited around for the examiners' final decision. Without much to do, I decided to look for a paying job to help pass time. I first went to the university career service center, and noticed a four-month clerk vacancy in the higher education admission center. The main responsibility of this position was to help universities and colleges match and find prospective students after final entrance exams. I went for an interview, and received an offer straightaway. However, the main problem with this job was that it would not start until eight weeks later.
Then I looked at the employment section of a local newspaper, in which a storeman vacancy in a nearby warehouse attracted my attention. I made an appointment with the manager, and went to see him the next day. When I got there, I filled out a form which contained sections such as applicant's address, phone number and education background. As this job required little education, I loosely put my education as graduate diploma. The manager described the duties of the position and showed me around the place. Afterwards, he told me to wait for notice in the next day or so.
Right in the next day, the manager rang and told me that the job went to someone with more experience. I told him it was not a problem, and I would simply keep looking for others. A few days later, that manager rang again and asked if I was still in for a job, as he had another temporary vacancy available. I said yes, and started to work the following day.
The job involved issuing steel pipes (of both round and square shapes) and long beams, loading and unloading trucks with hand-controlled cranes and driver-operated forklift. For the first week, I mainly watched and assisted a more experienced guy doing the job, and learned to recognize various types of pipes and beams. Then I began to work independently. Apart from keeping a close eye on things so as not to get hurt, the job was relatively simple. With the weekly pay coming as cash, this job gave me an impression as easy dough.
A typical day started at , and the first thing was to open the big roller door which was controlled by a hand-pulled chain. By that time, some pick-up truck drivers might have already waited outside, and they would back their trucks inside the loading bays. Truck drivers tended to be poorly educated (with no better than year 12 certificate). When they talked, rude words came out of their mouths just like a shaken coke can, so natural and so uncontrollable. They would grin and laugh if you also shouted rude words to them. In fact, the ruder words you used, the happier they seemed to be. If one day, you did not use too many rude words, they would think something was wrong with you. By , the pick-up drivers would all be gone. And after a short coffee break, some delivery trucks might begin to arrive, and unloading would take place. Fortunately, the normal knockoff time was , and we could have a long afternoon and evening rest.
Like the society in general, the workers in this warehouse came from all parts of the world. Some migrated from Italy, Germany, Greece, Vietnam and China etc, and of course a majority many arrived from UK much earlier. As I had an interest in learning foreign language, I tried to first read Italian conversational books and then practice with co-workers. Sometimes they thought I was a bore, bothering their quiet lunch breaks, but because I was using their languages, they found hard to shut me up.
As in other parts of the society, the management was dominated by earlier migrants who originated from UK. They tended to have a soft spot for members of their own. After I started the job there, I found out that the original job for which I applied went to a guy of their own. Unfortunately, this guy was kind of dumb and lazy. One day, this guy was trying to open the roller door, he left the door half open. When a truck reversed in, it hit the door, damaging both the truck and door. As the warehouse had to fix both, this guy got reprimanded. Another time, this guy removed a steering wheel control knob from the warehouse folklift and put it onto his own car for personal use. When it was found out, he got told off again. Another time, a strike was going on with public transport. This guy did not come to work for a couple of days. The manager rang him, and this guy replied if you paid me the taxi bill, I would come to work. The manager told him to piss off, and this guy finally got the sack.
There was another guy whose ancestors also migrated from UK. This guy was put in charge of a cutting machine, as some customers wanted the pipes cut to right sizes before delivery. Like the previous guy, he regarded work as play. Sometimes, he would cut the pipes half a centimeter too long, which had to be reworked. Sometimes, he cut them half a centimeter too short, and the whole batch of pipes worth hundreds and thousands of dollars had to be dumped for steel scraps. After a few times, this guy got fired too.
On the other hand, migrants from other countries tended to take their jobs more seriously, and it was not surprise that they formed bulk of the remaining workers in the warehouse in the end. I stayed there until I gained another job that was somewhat related to my training.