Quittin Your Job

Hungerford Field Day

Hungerford Field Day

On the weekend, my friend Andrew mentioned he wasn’t really very happy at work, and hadn’t been for quite some time. Still I was surprised to read in his blog that today he quit his job, without another one to go to. It’s a brave move in many ways, but Andrew is very employable and I’m sure he’ll be fine. Fellow blogger, Tom did something similar a few months ago, determined to forge a career in a new more interesting industry than the one in which he worked.

Twenty years ago I did something similar. After university I got a full-time job working at a supermarket chain. It was never really my “dream job” but it paid the bills. And for a while I thought it may have been the basis of my future career. Although I never really got the hang of the electronic ordering system, I really understood shoppers. I knew, for example, that when you’re selling hot crossed buns over the PA system, you don’t just say they’re on sale and leave it at that. Instead, you describe how they taste covered in butter and how happy your family or neighbours would feel if you invited them over for morning tea with a fine cuppa and some Easter Buns. Our store at Sunnybank recorded the highest sales of hot crossed buns in Queensland that year.

But after about eight months I quit Coles and joined the ranks of the unemployed. I’d reached the point where going to work was unbearable. Although I really liked the people I worked with and I liked some aspects of the job, I felt absolutely no satisfaction or sense of fulfillment in what I was doing on a daily basis. And I didn’t really like my boss, usually the most common reason why people leave their jobs. He was one of those bosses with “something to prove” which, eventually brought him undone. One too many resignations from his store, and after state management intervention, he too was gone. I think it was my resignation that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I told my colleagues a white lie, that I had something to go to, when in fact I had nothing. It was better, I thought, to take some time out to follow that dream, as Elvis once sang, than remain in a job where I was really unhappy. Such is the luxury of not having dependants.

During my period of unemployment, trying to find something that would give me some sense of meaning, I became quite dissilusioned and quite depressed. The CES (Commonwealth Employment Service), in those days, didn’t offer a lot in the way of creative, interesting occupations. One day, however, I saw a job advertised at a radio station in Western NSW. I applied for the job, travelled to Bourke, was interviewed and was offered the job.

They had received Federal Government funding for an Outback Drug Awareness Project. With no experience in community education programs, I hit the road running, talking to locals about the many ways in which we could use radio to reduce the incidence of drug and alcohol abuse in remote communities. A year later, the project won a national award from the Community Broadcasting Association of Association.

Twenty years ago, this week. I was heading off to Hungerford on the NSW/Queensland border to report on the annual “Hungerford Field Day”. Although a lot of my friends from Brisbane thought I’d gone mad, relocating to a small town on the edge of the outback, to me it was pure bliss. I got to meet a broad range of interesting and colourful characters, to experience the great outdoors, and to get paid for it. Sometimes you gotta listen to your heart and not your head.

  1. That’s a nice story about the hot cross buns – it’s nice they let you run with your ideas – I suspect today many places wouldn’t give you enough rope to make even smallish decisions at that level.

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  2. Congratulations not just for the award James but for making a difference in the community. And you are right about listening to your heart over head that is unless you’re in love then I would have to stop and think first. I am referring to when a person first falls in love. Emotions are all over the shop.

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  3. yeah, u had to take big chances to get a job in the media back then, especially without any high placed “connections”.

    now, i s’pose u can just do a blog and get a job at an online place.

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