My phone is silent.. still silent. I’m getting grumpy, it’s been nearly an hour since I had a call to pick up a delivery. In the meantime, it started bucketing down with rain. Luckily there is a big place to shelter in front of the supermarket. My raincoat has given up the fight against the weather and slowly starts letting the raindrops go through. Completely wetting my clothes. It is nearly 11 PM, I’m already biking around since 11 in the morning. ‘Come on, please. Just one more delivery! At least give me enough income so I can buy my groceries this week!’, I shout helplessly to my Samsung. As if the gods were listening, an order pops up on my phone. ‘Yes! It’s just around the corner!’ I quickly put my phone in the holder on my steering wheel to navigate, put my helmet on and hit the peddles like my life is depending on it.
‘There you go. Two American burgers, one big portion of chips and two coca cola.’ The lady behind the counter hands over the bag of food to me. I swipe the screen to see where the delivery needs to go. It appears to be all the way to the other side of town, about 20 min away and from there 30 min to get back home, rewarded with $12, way below minimum wage, but at least better than nothing.
Completely drenched up to my underwear I knock on the door. Two boys open the door. I put my best smile on and hand over the bag of food. Unfortunately, it was not worth a tip for them…
It is already been three weeks since I arrived in Melbourne. The day after my arrival I managed to get a super exciting position at Backpacker Deals; a travel deal website. An amazing chance to learn more about web design, management and marketing & PR. The only downside: it was only for 2 days a week. With the extremely high cost of living, this would not even be enough to pay my weekly rent for my room. Thank God that Robin, Maggi, Sarah and Jim; my housemates, stepped in and offered to put in $10 each a week to support me with the rent.
To get some extra dollars together for groceries, I spent my free hours on my bicycle to deliver food with UberEats. The pay is tremendously bad, but at least I have the freedom of working whenever I want and it allows me to pay for my shopping until I find a better solution.
Robin had already given me a helping hand with my resume and email addresses, websites and contact details of various recruitment agencies. I apply for any interesting position I can get my hands on. Gardener, receptionist, waitress, bartender, postmen. I apply for jobs at hostels, hotels, car rental services, money exchange offices, etc. But all without success.
Then, one day, I spot a part-time position at a doggie daycare. The job is absolutely perfect. `Give it your best shot Sanne!`, I tell myself and with my head raised high, I start writing my application letter and pimp up my resume till it reaches true perfection.
Nothing beats a personal meeting, so on a beautiful day, I decide to step on my bike and start the 35-kilometer bike ride to the doggie daycare so I can hand over the letter and resume in person.
I prepare myself a little lunchbox and pack up some extra snacks and fruit for on the way. I quickly stop at an ATM and withdrawal $30 so I can buy myself a little treat on the way home.
The ride is absolutely stunning. It follows the river and passes many parks and little-protected areas.
At one of them, I stop for a little picnic break. I get my lunchbox out and enjoy the sunlight on my face and the birds singing in the trees.
When I return to my bicycle, my happy mood drops to the ground. The front tire is as flat as a pancake. Those wee little f*ckers that just passed must have stabbed my tire… According to Google Maps, it is about 10 kilometres to the nearest bike shop… in the other direction. I decide to play it hard and buy a little pump at a local discount store for $10. The remaining 8 kilometres to the doggie daycare I spent with stopping every 5 minutes to pump up my tire. `It is just a test to see how badly you want this job Sanne. Work hard play hard`, I keep telling myself.
A little more than an hour later I finally arrive at the Doggie Day Care. I park my bike around the corner and grab the folder with my letter and resume neatly folded in it, out of my backpack. `Alright, Sanne this is it. Shoulders back, chin up and a big smile, you can do it` I tell myself and press the doorbell. Nothing is happening. Again. Nothing. I take a step back and look around. Then a big sign in the corner catches my eye.
`To minimize the barking, would you please not ring the doorbell or knock on the door during the following hours:`
The sign says.
I have look at my phone. It`s just 15 minutes past visitor hour. `Shit!` Luckily there is a number I can call.
`Doggie Day Care Juliette speaking.` the lady says. `Yes hello. This is Sanne speaking, Sanne de Groot. I saw you have a position available at the moment and thought I just pop by to hand in my cover letter and resume and introduce myself in person.` *a moment of dreadful silent* `I`m sorry dear, but I have the vet visiting at the moment. I really don`t have time for this at the moment. Just send us an email and we`ll get back to you.` Before I could say anything back, the lady already hangs up.
Out of pure frustration, I tear my resume into pieces and toss them in the bin. Then pump up my front tire for the 500th time and start on the long journey home.
“Hi, how r ya?”, asks the man behind the counter, when I enter his shop with my bicycle in my hand. Google maps had directed me to his shop as it was on the way back following the bike lane along the coast. “Yeah I`m good, thanks. Uhm… just a flat tire.” “Ah, no worries mate. Little Ronnie will have that all fixed up for you in a minute. Just take a seat and your bike will be ready in a minute.” The man says while he walks around the counter and is ready to take my bike to the workshop. “Oh, that is very kind of you, but I was wondering if you just have any repair kits for sale. I only have $20 on me, so I can`t afford to get it fixed. I`m more than happy to do it myself.` The man puts both his hands on his hips and gives me a funny look. “Honey, please we are in Australia! We don`t repair tires here, we just replace them. Let me guess.. you must be Dutch.” And he burst out laughing. To not make the situation any more uncomfortable I decide to giggle along. “Ow gosh, you Dutchies are some funny stingy people. Sweetheart, if you just make us a nice cup of coffee for me and Ronnie, then we`ll give you a new tire for $20, how does that sound?”
Half an hour, one tire and 2 cups of coffee later I leave the shop with a fixed bicycle. “I can`t thank you enough Sir! This is beyond kind.” We say our goodbyes and I continue my way towards the bike trail along the beach.
It is stunning weather, almost summer alike. Families are walking in the sand, couples are walking hand in hand, a dog is running after a ball, it is all a lovely sight and slowly I let my thoughts carry me away. Away to all those great memories. That day that I met Pablo in Terra de Fuego and he bought my bus tickets to Ushuaia, the numerous truck drivers that have brought me 1000nds of miles across South America, that lovely lady in Peru that decorated my head with a beautiful ribbon, all the Couchsurfing host that had opened up their doors for me, my housemates currently supporting me by paying part of my rent… Every time I needed help, somebody had stepped forward. `This is also going to be fine, Sanne. Every little thing is gonna be alright.` I tell myself. `We`ll just put a post on Facebook to let everybody know you are looking for a job. For sure you will find something. Have faith and the good will come.`
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto