Friday, August 18, 2006

Works and Days

"So" I said to the thin, blonde man, "how're the finances now?"

"Good, good, holding up good." He had a habit of bobbing his head up and down when he grinned, and he was grinning a lot lately. "Always got cash in my pocket, outta debt, all good."

I stared down at the green assessment sheet, where I had written a series of "good"s, "fine"s, even an "amazing".

"You're not making this very exciting" I said.

He laughed, and his head zipped up and down like a piston. "Nah, well, nothing to complain about, is there? No news is good news. Bought a flat-screen tv the other day."

"Must be tiring, though" I said. I had written how he was working laying slabs and pouring concrete - carrying loads of brick, building foot-paths, six days a week, three Saturdays off in six months.

"I've done worse" he said. "Was worse two years back."

I glanced at the notes. "When you were on heroin?"

"Blood oath" he said, and for a moment was serious. "Tell you what, that was hard yakka. Hardest work I ever done."

"Really?"

He nodded, slowly this time. "I reckon I couldn't go back now. I'm too old. Body wouldn't take it."

I stared at his long, muscular arms, muscles as well defined as a greyhound's.

"What was so hard?" I said.

"Mate" he laughed, and shook his head. "Mate, you have no idea."

And he explained. Heroin, and the crime you committed to get heroin, was a full time job. You had to get out of bed early. You wanted to rob people's places when they weren't home, so that meant getting there eight thirty, nine o'clock in the morning. none of this lying in bed all day shit. Get up early, no matter if it's rain or shine, withdrawal or no freakin' withdrawal - if you don't do it, no-one else is gonna do it for you. Drive half way across the city, Mordor Slough to Slytherin Gulch in rush hour. Then there's getting in - dogs, fences, alarms, shit like that. And tvs - they're heavy. Nearly did my back in one time - no compo."

I nodded.

"And when you're not working your worrying about things, money form this guy to that guy, paying the bills, stretching your credit. Cushy government jobs - no offence, doc - people in cushy government jobs don't know what your average guy goes through trying to make a living. There's no support at all."

He shook his head, his face bitter. "Plus, getting rid of shit - where-ever you go, getting ripped off. You break your back for something, take it down cashies and you get ten, maybe fifteen percent. They're the bloody thieves, mate."

"I've heard that" I said.

"Plus scoring, getting rid of shit - Christ, there's no stability at all! Your partners just aren't reliable. Soon as you get some nice little system set up, some clown gets too greedy and bang - three years in Mauro. Plus overheads - don't talk to me about overheads."

I raised my eyebrows.

"Running the vehicle, somewhere to store the stuff - and petrol! Christ, it's a dollar fifty a litre this morning. You can't run an operation with that kind of overheads. Naah, one day I sat down, added it all up, said to myself "mate, you're not on a winner here. Wise up. Work for someone else."

"So now you're laying slabs" I said. He nodded, took a deep breath, calmed himself with a visible effort.

"Laying slabs" he said. "Steady work. Six days a week, some other guy does the worrying. Simple stuff."

Anyway, I think this scenario speaks for itself. The little men and women struggling against insuperable odds, the husband and wife teams working day and night in the face of official indifference and even hostility, the brave little entrepreneurs upon whose back our economy rests - this is how they are treated.

So much for the lucky country, I reckon.

Thanks for listening,
John

PS - a plethora of stuff to write about, which will be done over the weekend. Plus comments. But I had to write this down before I forgot.

2 Comments:

Blogger lauritajuanitasanchez said...

Working for drugs and drugs only. I know the scenario well. I'm glad this guy was smart and got out. Very few can see the forest for the trees.

11:15 PM  
Blogger Benedict 16th said...

Farmer poor form only 4 goals!

4:38 PM  

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