Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Melbourne - perhaps not as 'Sydney' as it first seemed

Today has been really the first time that I have started to pick up on distinct differences - in the people, and other things - between Melbourne and Sydney.

After a few days faffing around online, and some short shifts at Roberto's fine Italian restaurant, I was back out and about running around trying to give people my resumes.

One thing I can say, Melbourne is a shit town to be finding hospitality work in. Yes at the moment I think it is unusually tough, but in general it seems like a place very hard on its servicepeople. I was sitting at one prospective today, the manager looking over my experience and basically explaining that Melbourne is too particular about its coffee for my experience to qualify me. Then explaining, that while that particular establishment didn't offer rates like that, a good barista could be earning as much as $18-19 an hour.
In Sydney that is award wage! At the agency I worked for, they would apologise for offering me shifts as a standard waiter, which Only pays $18.50.
Today's most promising lead explained that the starting rate there is $11. No, that's not per half-hour, that's per hour! And you know what, I'm not in a position to complain. If I'm offered work there, I'm taking it.

With a bit of luck, one of my other leads will pull through, however. Wandering down Brunswick St this evening, a number of the pubs there are looking at hiring in the next few weeks - if not immediately - and if my previous employment is anything to go by I might actually earn reasonable wage behind the bar.

Don't think I am becoming disheartened, however. I mean, my current financial situation is on the lean side of undesirable, but I am enjoying wandering around Melbourne. I do have memories of jobsearching as overly unpleasant, but as often as I'm being turned away, wandering the streets and chatting to whoever I can find is quite an engaging way to pass a day.

I will get back to the point I started with: Fitzroy. It is a beautifully vibrant place, on first impression. I was walking the streets at 10:30pm, and there was as much traffic as there was at 6:30. Pubs were busy! Busy! On a Monday night - and not one, but many - probably about half of Brunswick St, and every 'trendy' pub, had a whole crowd. It was quite a shock, but really very cool. And the people...? I don't know what they would be like to live with, but great to get a taste of - SO trendy. You think in Sydney you know what 'trendy' is? Think again. Pick your average, young, semi-grungy fashinable Newtown type. Add money, and multiply by a few hundred, and you have the Bimbo Deluxe punterage on a Monday night - and this is not an average, but the rule. Everybody was young, and everybody done up an an effortful, moneyed-up grungy sort of way. I was wearing black trousers and a blue business shirt, and I was getting looks - the kind of looks Sydney people are too polite/scared to undertake in public. Not since wearing a trenchcoat to Manly in my teens have I really found myself an odd one out. I should be glad, I suppose, that I'm old enough not to care, which is good, because that made it quite an interesting experience.

And the CBD? It is not at all uniform like that, but there are still pockets of extreme trendiness. Melbourne is not like Sydney, with a CBD composed virtually entirely of suits. The city is pocked with laneways, which are oases of pretty people. A fabulous place to wander and oggle - it is not just attractive girls, but excessively fashionable, painstakingly pretty people, of each gender. Really quite a show, and really somewhere worth going to just hang out in a way that nowhere in Sydney really offers. (Pretty people are my favourite people after all.)

So Melbourne... I'm really enjoying hanging about, though my stay is yet to actually involve actually getting anything done. With a bit of luck my next post will be about how that is changing.

jsbaxter.com.au (coming soon!)


Anonymous said...

the wages thing - I have it on good authority that it's like that from the Kennett years & then the backlash after his exit. Rates of pay are uneven compared to Sydney. That's the story I got anyway.

On another topic: it's an unusual situation but everything anyone does in Melbourne is featured in a mag, released on CD or gets a doco made about it. So you have to be looking sharp all the time!

an anonymous coward

JSB said...

Hmmm... Is it Kennett that gets the good wrap for reconstructing the south bank and other planning work around central Melbourne? Cause he did a good job of that at least if it was.

Perhaps I should be trying harder on the sharpness.

Thanks for comments (and for reading!)

Hamish said...

I believe it was Kennett who came up with the 'Drink Drive, Bloody Idiot' slogan - a long time favourite of mine!

I was beginning to think that Melbourne sounded the same as Edinburgh with the wages, until you mentioned the trendy people. There is a severe lack of those in this small corner of the world. Fat kids in tights, tracksuits, or black trenchcoats dominate the streets here, and not in a good way.

I'd give anything to see a Sydney street of suits or a fancy Fitzroy laneway...

Sucks about the jobs though! Hope your fortunes have turned by now.

Matt said...

You Can Take The Boy Out of Brunswick, but You Can't Take Brunswick Out of The Boy.

Melbourne sure sounds trendy.