I remember my graduation well. My children, my daughter’s then boyfriend and my ex-husband, Dr T, attended the ceremony. I walked across the podium to the chorus of “Go mum!” It was a proud moment for me and my children.
As a graduate I thought I knew what work life I was entering into. I was now a professional! I would sit in a sterile office with colour matched décor, legs neatly crossed at the ankles, pad and pen in hand and engage in ‘active listening’. I thought I would be doing this for the rest of my life. On reflection, the thought makes me shudder!
My office now is where I am. There are, of course, incidental rewards as well. I am an observer so, naturally, an airport becomes a workplace too. I see life as it happens … let me share what I mean.
I’m at my laptop, they are seated near me. Her father takes a last bite of his good ole Aussie meat pie, gulps Gatorade, wipes his mouth with the back of his sleeve and picks her up. She is barely 3.5 and she already knows the routine. She looks at her mother, seated with infant at breast and looks back at her father. Now nose to nose, eye to eye, he whispers to her, “you’re a big sister now, you be a good girl for mummy when daddy’s gone”. Her tiny mouth trembles as she nods. Oh! She’s brave! He leans down to his wife and kisses her full on the mouth, and lingers a little longer than he did with the children. Then, kisses and caresses his suckling infant son’s forehead with a gruff, “see you mate!”, picks up his bag and walks to the Gate without looking back.
I know the feeling of goodbye and flinch at the memory of resolve.
The FIFO (fly in fly out) life is hard on families and relationships. The money is good when it comes in. In the early boom people stretched their budgets to the max with expensive cars and big homes, jet skis, boat, big 4WDs for the wives. The heat has cooled, I see people now with a new perspective. They exercise restraint. And, they work harder at relationships.
Some would consider my schedule is worse than a FIFO worker. My schedule is ad hoc except for clinic days which are generally predetermined. I can sleep in four different hotel rooms in a week. This lifestyle has become addictive. I love the variety my work brings me. No two days are alike. I am no longer driven by the money. I am genuinely thrilled to be working in a range of settings and with a variety of people.
Like the time …
I’ve stood for hours in an indigenous community in extreme heat, brushing red ants that crawled up my legs, and moving away from dozens of puppies with insatiable itch. I have completed an interview in searing heat while seated on a tractor during harvest time. That was fun! I have sat cross legged on a sticky floor never questioning what the glue may have been. I get to observe children at play in their natural environment. I’ve joined a mother in the kitchen doing my work, while she did hers. I have driven on a highway in outback Kimberley with a colleague as we tried to outrun a bush fire. It was all in a day’s work. But best of all, I get to meet people where they are and that to me is a privilege.
I have returned home tracking red dust indoors. I couldn’t be happier. Little did I know when I doffed my graduation cap, what life had in store for me!
Until next time
a dawn bird
In response to RDP Friday: Graduate