It’s been exactly twelve weeks and five days since I left the UK with plans to travel forever. Again. But I have a banging headache, and I fear Black Eyed Peas’ – Where Is The Love? is not helping the cause. I’m blankly staring at the mini TV in the back of the Singapore Airlines seat in front of me. A landing card has just been plopped on my tray table, reminding me that death is the punishment for drug traffickers in Singapore.
I’m beginning to reconsider my career as a drug mule.
This is actually the story of a series of ridiculous events that led me to flick Australia the infamous ‘V,’ multiple times, before taking a seat in the middle of the plane where I couldn’t see any more of the country that nearly killed me.
As most of you will know from following me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or just plain following me around town, I’ve more or less recovered from my ankle break. It’s stiff, it’s sore, but it’s functioning… and even before I was given the go ahead to live crutch free I landed myself a job in the Australian countryside.
I made arrangements to travel interstate. I was moving to Hamilton, Victoria to be an Au Pair on a farm.
Pros of the job? Free food, free board, sign off on my second year visa and a wage that could support my growing desire to swim with sharks (after two weeks of unpaid but light work). Cons of the job? I had to work for probably the most insecure, disturbed and utterly unbearable woman I have yet to meet in this world.
My first evening, I got stuck in to meeting the extended family, making pizzas with the current Au Pair, washing up and being… well, you know… polite. Which is a job in itself sometimes… I am a grump.
My second day was also pretty good. I helped clean, cook, play with the boys, do washing and collect eggs from chickens. I couldn’t believe my luck. My employers were totally accepting of my recovering ankle and encouraged me to take regular breaks and not feel pressured into learning everything in one day.
This was exactly what I wanted.
On the third day, it was like I woke up in a completely different house. Things were manic. The eldest boy was refusing to engage in his home schooling routine after a tearful goodbye to his father. The Dad, a wonderful and reasonable man, was off to Melbourne.
I spent twenty minutes lying on the floor and under a bed with the eight year old before he punched me and told me to leave him alone. Okay, fair enough. We called his mother, who took him out for an hour or so.
When she returned, she was obviously pretty pissed at how we had handled the situation. She sent me out with a packed lunch to collect sticks and build bonfires while Laura stayed in to do home schooling.
I didn’t think to argue about the stress this would put on my ankle… I just didn’t want to be in the house with a woman that was reluctant to let me use her wifi connection to message my Mum and let her know that I was in fact still alive. I was beginning to see the cracks.
After three hours of collecting sticks I started to get the pain. Surely, three hours was enough? I sat down in the car, just as it began to rain. I pulled my phone out to find a few missed calls and a message from Laura asking if I wanted to return to the house for some lunch.
Of course, sat in the car with my phone in my hand was the only way that my new, more increasingly apparent psycho boss would find me. I returned to the house anyway, for a coffee and a ten minute lunch break. I nipped into the activity room to take a look at how Laura was tutoring one of the kids.
I had only taught stuffed toys before… I had never taught a real life child. My intention was to observe a lesson so that I could take over efficiently when Laura had to leave.
Stupid Judy (the psycho boss) stepped into the room and asked me why I wasn’t outside picking up sticks. She muttered something on the end about my ankle, but it was plain to see that she didn’t really give a toss.
I sloped back out to the farm where I aggressively chucked tiny bits of bark at the multiple bonfires I had already built. Laura joined me and we reveled in the ultimate slagging off any person ever for a full hour and a half. Immature, I know. But it felt better to know that we were in this together. That we both thought Stupid Judy was… well, stupid.
The rest of the evening went by pretty unspectacularly. I helped to cook dinner, clean up and entertain the kids. We were roped into the bedtime routine which actually wasn’t a problem at all. The boys had their showers and went to bed.
On day four, Judy’s husband returned with a new kitchen for the cottage they were rebuilding. The day was far more relaxed, but I ached like hell. I made sure to rest myself whenever I needed it. I drank a lot of coffee. I helped lift heavy kitchen units into a sheep shearing shed for storage and I endured some of the strangest behaviour ever displayed by young boys.
- The youngest boy has stopped calling me Au Pair. Now he calls me Boobs or Bosoms.
- The youngest boy also asks if I’m his baby lady.
- The eldest boy has put a cockroach on my face.
- The eldest boy has also lost said cockroach in my living quarters.
Things didn’t get any better the next day. I ‘arrived’ at work on the morning of my fifth day and was TOLD to put the kids’ socks and shoes on because the floor was wet in the kitchen. Sure, no dramas. The boys had their socks and shoes on in seconds. I grabbed myself a slice of toast and Stupid Judy asked me to do the school run with her.
On said school run, Stupid Judy asked me to brush my hair because I looked scruffy. As a girl with short hair, brushing it wouldn’t really make a difference. What she was asking was for me to stop having naturally wavy hair.
Whatever, Lady… you wear red riding boots with ill-fitting jeans and a matted black wool waist coat. Besides, I work on a fucking farm.
I shrugged it off, I followed her around the school and introduced myself to the teachers. When we got back to the house she asked us to clean up the abundance of polystyrene balls… by hand.
We got stuck in to the job and had a little chat as we did so. When it was all clean, I hoovered and then went to hang out another load of washing. Apart from this, our jobs for the day were done until the boys were done with certain school duties.
Next thing I hear is this almighty screaming from the other side of the house. I honestly thought something catastrophic had happened… but what I heard was something far less newspaper worthy.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? This is why I hate having two Au Pairs, you’re all lazy! You all stand around talking, you’re disruptive to my children’s lifestyles and they don’t need to hear about your irrelevant travels and plans. You don’t need to talk and it doesn’t take two people to clean up some plastic! We are not a charity, when you are here, you work HARD!”
This verbal onslaught was apparently brought on by Laura and I tackling duties together. I kept my cool whilst I hung out the washing. I told myself that this was the perfect job, don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.
Don’t let her get to you. Just let it go.
But then I was stood outside her office door. And then I was telling her that I had finished the washing… and then I told her that I was going to pack my bags.
Well, [stupid] Judy, with no disrespect to yourself, but the way you just spoke to Laura wasn’t exactly professional. In fact, I wouldn’t let anybody speak to me the way you just did. I was here early on training and to be an extra helping hand. I am unpaid whilst Laura is paid, and I feel my work load shouldn’t be equal for that fact. I’m just not sure it will work out.
“What?! *squinty face* TRAINING?! You’re not on TRAINING. You are here to work as hard as I make you. You’re pathetic. I don’t have time for you. Get out of my house. Go pack your bags. Get out. I’ve hated you since you got here anyway. I knew you wouldn’t last. You’re a ponce.”
I ended the conversation by thanking her profusely for the opportunity to try something knew. I might have laughed a little bit too. Then I packed my bags and started the 13km walk to town.
I soon heard the car right behind me and I walked myself out of the road as she sped past. For a second I thought I was going to die, splattered across the front of her silver ve-hickle.
She stopped beside Laura to continue screaming and shouting about what a horrible, freeloading person Zoe Townsend-Sawyer had turned out to be. Laura was dumbfounded.
As I walked by the parked car, I said to Laura that it was lovely to meet her and that I would give her a call when I was settled somewhere for the night. Stupid Judy, hung her head out of the car window like some kind of rabid dog and just. kept. shouting.
“Don’t be so stupid! You can’t walk through town like that, think of your ankle! You’re an embarrassment to our family!”
No thank you, Judy. I don’t need your CHARITY.
*NOTE: This post was written and then belatedly published. It has now been more like thirteen weeks and five days since I left the UK.