Brief Moment

Minutes after observing the “Christmas Party Invitation” on the notice board at work, as I headed home, I overhead the telephone conversation of a nearby bloke.

“It’s quietening down now”, he said, adding, “we won’t do much now until late January”. When I overheard heard these words, I looked over at him. “Who was lucky enough not to have ‘not much to do’ for two months of the year?, I wondered to myself. He was a youngish bloke, quite well dressed. I assumed he worked in some kind of professional environment.

While the rest of the world “quietens down for Christmas”, my job remains quite busy. For me, the lead-up to summer is probably the busiest time of my working life. At the moment, my head is half of the time in the world of complex negotiation, and half of the time in the complex world of spreadsheets, as I document everything that needs to be communicated and “do the sums”.

As I’ve worked most summers for the better part of a decade I find it hard to remember the last time I had a proper Christmas holiday. I think it may have been December 2003, just before I headed off to Perth for a year.

This year I have quite a good work/life compromise. As I do a national job, I can pretty much work from anywhere. So long as I’ve got a phone and an email connection, my job is possible. So this year I’m going home to visit my family on the North Coast, and will work daytime from the office there. During daytime hours I can go to work and do my job, but at night I can see my family. I might even pop home for lunch on a few days. It’s not quite the same as having a good holiday break, but it’s a good compromise. I liken it to the days when Doug Anthony used to act as Prime Minister from his North Coast caravan.

For a few weeks each year the country was run from the Anthony’s caravan on the coast.

LARRY ANTHONY: We didn’t even have a telephone, he refused to have one, so the calls would have to go through to the corner store and the lady from the corner store would have to come ’round and knock at all hours of the day saying ‘Mr Anthony could you please call the prime minister’, so then Doug would have to go ’round to the Public telephone box and queue up with the others with his 20 cent slots to ring whoever, so this charade went on for years.

DOUG ANTHONY: But the country ran well I, I always say to myself well it’s never better [laughs]. But uh…it almost brought the nation down to a, a festival atmosphere. The nation sort of relaxed after all the tense period of living uh.. and getting ready for Christmas that here the nation was relaxing too with me in the caravan running the country.

I figure if Doug Anthony can run the country from a caravan (and use the public phone), I can do my job too. It’s just the same, isn’t it? Well almost, as I doubt Doug Anthony spent New Years Eve at Tropical Fruits NYE at the Lismore Showground.

But despite this “short break”, I’m going to be working quite hard. and probably lots of out-of-hours phone calls. For me, summer is one of the busiest times of the year. My “brief quiet moment” tends to be half way through the year.