“Would your parents be open to being interviewed about their sex lives…by you?” and “Can you find me a psychopath, surely there’s one that’s done a TedTalk” are just a couple of questions I was asked at VICE that I’m almost certain would be considered out of the ordinary anywhere else.
I decided to intern at VICE while visiting my parents in Melbourne – partly for the invaluable experience and partly because mum doesn’t really enjoy people relaxing in the house for more than a week. I’d already pushed this boundary for 3 more weeks than anyone had ever managed before and it was time to get back to being productive.
Working at VICE brought back serious ‘1st day of school’ vibes. I couldn’t figure out where I fit in. Walking into the warehouse cum officespace, I noted almost every female had a micro-fringe, didn’t care for their bras and were letting their armpit hair grow (I’m assuming for feminism (but not their leg hair…still investigating this logic)). The guy in charge of me skateboarded to work and I was definitely the most square person in the room. On my first day, I sat in front of a girl who had piercings, a micro fringe and a mullet and she was making it work – Do you know how cool you have to be to make a mullet look good?
Covers of books aside, the level of wit and intellect was on a completely different playing field. These young, super fresh minds seemed to know about everything: politics, new music, current events, fashion, pop culture, art from every era, knowledge of drugs and their aftereffects. There were no censors and they unleashed this knowledge on their website on a daily basis.
While everyone was warm, they were incredibly focused and single-minded in their work. My ideas didn’t seem to fit and I didn’t have an edgy way of executing them – this struggle lasted for almost three weeks. No, I didn’t want to write about my parent’s sex lives; there’s not enough money in the world to make me write about that and I wasn’t getting paid at all, I’m also genuinely not that curious about the effects of inhaling nitrous oxide on the brain, I will however definitely hunt down a psychopath for your article on ‘how to get over breakups like a psychopath’,
I was almost defeated – I’d completed one interview of a Kiwi band and the editor edited in swear words so that ruled out sharing it with my Gran. One day I sat across from another girl, this one had multiple tattoos of various religious symbols of which I’m almost certain she had no belief in, and I thought sod it – I’m going to write about something none of them can, I’m playing the brown card.
And so I interviewed my Granny about arranged marriages. They edited out all the nice things I said about my Gran to make it edgier but I think it still turned out alright. She was cool with it because as the pre-edited version would read, she’s a boss.
I did learn a lot about good writing from this bunch of geniuses. I also learned that there’s a component named psilocybin in magic mushrooms which research shows when given to terminal patients can eradicate the feeling of dread and fear of dying. Fun fact. I’m not sure I’ll ever be edgy enough to work at VICE but damn, it made me want to be good enough to write there.
Eyes that stared at me every day on my way to VICE
Found near VICE
Leaving present signed mostly by people who didn’t know me
It’s been a month since I’ve returned to Christchurch and the hunt for a weekend job continues. Thankfully since my previous post, I’ve had nothing short of miracles come through to sustain my eating habits. I’ve started freelancing and getting paid for my writing which is super exciting! and I don’t want to brag but I will shortly be the presenter for the introduction to learning services video at my school despite never having used the learning services.
However, after having done the cv drop in my neighbourhood I was feeling a tad glum when I hadn’t heard back from anyone. Until I received a call a couple of weeks ago from my local Lululemon. Why apply at Lululemon you ask? because their store smells delicious and the irony of me working at an athletic wear store is too good an opportunity to pass up.
The call came at an awkward time, a minute before I was to donate blood. So when the manager introduced herself to me I apologised in advance, “I’m sorry if I have to cut this call short, I’m just about to give blood – I mean donate it, I’m not just giving my blood away”. Now there’s an opening sentence that won’t freak people out.
Surely deterred, she invited me for a group interview.
Manager: “Yeah! come ready to get a bit sweaty…”
Manager: “We’ll have a trainer there who will take you through an HIIT (High-intensity, interval training) workout before your interview.
Me: “Oh great, my two favourite things”
Already regretting my decision I was assured by my friends that I would be fine. I was not. Wearing borrowed Lululemon gear, which was ridiculously comfortable might I add, I walked to my interview – my heart in my throat.
I was greeted by a ridiculously tall and good looking man and his equally good-looking partner. Matt and Whitney are part of the HIIT Squad; they are Zuu instructors – where all the exercises mimic the actions of animals: bear crawls, monkey squats etcetera. They’re a level of good looking and fit that you hate in people but you can’t hate Matt and Whitney because they’re also so damn nice. My brain was confused and angry.
There were four other applicants who all looked like they knew their organic greengrocer by name, y’know? Matt asked if the team generally kept active to which one applicant said “yeah I run marathons, got a tournament coming up in Hamilton”, another said she is a rower and rowing instructor, one was a swimmer and dancer and the other had previously worked at Lululemon and was very into yoga. I remained silent because the only marathon I’d ever competed in involved a record amount of caramel mallows I’d eaten 30minutes prior to my interview.
Five minutes into the workout, what was meant to be a team-building exercise became an ‘encourage Keth’ one. It was clear I was the weakest link. The workout was killer, I know because it was on Tuesday and I’ve only just recovered the use of my right arm today, three days later, for the sake of this blog. There were many high 5s between rounds and despite me suspecting my lungs were going to collapse, an all-around positive experience. One that I wanted to end swiftly.
I thought if by some miracle I get this job I am going to take a ‘before’ photo. The hilarious part was yet to come. During the group interview, we were asked to share why we wanted to work at Lululemon. Again, the other applicants had been encouraged to be there by their yoga instructors, or love the active wear, “I live in active wear and I sometimes sleep in it” said one. The hoax was up, there was no point in lying about me living in active wear – this was clearly my first real workout in a long time. Maybe because I was light headed from the workout but I’m almost certain I said, a friend of mine previously worked at Lulu and when she started hanging out with her workmates her Instagram got really good because they went on cool hikes. Yeah. That was my legitimate answer. I didn’t even want to hire me by the end of that session.
I heard back from the manager today and she was sweet enough to blame my unsuccessful application on my lack of availability during the week. Maybe I should learn my lesson and stick with jobs that require my skillset, which is flexible but probably not enough to include the title of an athlete. Then again, who gets anywhere by doing things within their comfort zone.
I badly needed a summer job. The difficulty with this is that my parents live in Melbourne, my home for 3 of the warmer months, I landed on November 27th and pretty much every employer had filled their Christmas roster before I even had the chance to lie about my experience in making coffee.
On a scorching Saturday afternoon, my parents decided to experiment with some Indian food. Nothing screams “wild summer” like curry. Our waiter spoke only slightly above a whisper and when my dad asked him what the mystery curry on his plate was, he responded with “Just try it, Sir”.
When the manager, Rohit, came by to check on us my kind father asked if they had any job vacancies for me. Rohit took one look at me and said he could definitely use me as a waitress. I was jazzed. Rohit handed me a menu and told me to learn it and return the next day for training. “Two hours of your training is unpaid, the rest we pay on a fortnightly basis”, he said.
No contract, not even a handshake to prove I was an employee of this fine establishment but I didn’t care. when Rohit said they pay $13 per hour, a whole lot less than the minimum wage of $22 which casuals usually earn in Melbourne, I was less jazzed. On the other hand, I had no other options so who was I to complain – I was officially an underpaid, exploited brown girl. Fantastic.
My mother spent the afternoon testing me on the menu which not only served Indian food but had a Chinese section also: Gobi 65, Paneer 65 – your usual Asian suspects (wot the hell). Nothing makes you feel like you’re fulfilling all your Pinterest dreams like when you’re mates are graduating from Medical school and getting sworn into the Bar and you’re learning the Indo-Chinese menu for a place that won’t even pay you minimum wage.
I arrived at the restaurant the next day and was introduced to Charlie. Charlie is from India and has been in Australia for 6 months, has a tattoo that reads “Mum & Dad” on his forearm and is studying IT. His experience working at Taco Bell, an Italian place which “taught him the basics” and as I soon discovered, being a male, made him my superior.
“We’ve had some dumb females here in the past. We don’t want any more donkeys,” said Charlie.
Charlie had been there a week. While Charlie ranted at me for 20 minutes about the importance of loyalty to an establishment, each of the chefs took it, in turns, to step out of the kitchen and hold eye contact with me for a little too long. Uncomfortable does not begin to describe what I was feeling. Finally, one chef wasn’t a weirdo and actually introduced himself to me and let me know I was welcome to any food I wanted. This offer alone almost made it worth it – the food was out of this world. Each time I entered and exited the kitchen there’d be a low wolf whistle and I just want you to know that wearing an all black, baggy outfit, in a kitchen as hot as satan’s balls was not my hottest look. Also, they’d run out of caps and there may or may not have been a hairnet involved.
I finished the 4-hour shift with my sanity intact but my feminism a little bruised. Aside from Charlie’s sexism and the chefs’ sexual harassment it had been an easy shift with pleasant customers. And then I received this from Rohit.
FYI: Although his compliments of my display picture were somewhat appreciated, Rohit never did pay me for the 2 additional hours I worked and thus ended my brief career as a waitress.
I, however, am not the unlucky one in this story. It’s Charlie – I have the option of refusing to be paid below minimum wage and to say no thank you to the harassment. My parents give me a home and food while the hunt for work continues. But Charlie and people in his situation have to put up with earning $13 and in his case, all of us dumb, nasty females.