How a friendship maintained since Ireland led me to a job, a home, a gym, a volunteer spot and even, really, a bicycle

It’s funny that after saying I was worried to go on the job hunt again (having been spoiled by finding all of my tattooing gigs through ‘friend of a friend’ connections in the past), I ended up finding a job in Melbourne through a friend of a friend.

And I reward his help by choosing one of the more ridiculous photos I have of him. It really is a wonder I don’t have more enemies.

I met Ger in Dublin back in 2007. He was a barista in a coffee shop that was on the way to work, and most every morning I would stop in for the discount bagel/coffee combo and a chat. I wouldn’t have met him if not for that route. So, really, finding a job in Melbourne could be traced back further still to working a shitty job for sketchy Italians in Temple Bar. . .and finding that job could be traced back to Aoife, an Irish lass I met right before leaving Canada. . .who I only met because I was visiting my friend Scott. . .who . . .

. . .cause and effect really is a funny thing, and never is the so-called ‘butterfly effect’ more apparent than when you’re traveling. The entire course of my early travels were drastically shifted by the simple act of an Aussie fixing his shoe on the back of my bicycle.

But that’s a different story. Back to this one:

Description: Coffee cortado (An latte art exam...

Forced to use an image search as I’ve just realized that I’m too busy drinking my coffee to ever bother photographing them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ger had been living in Melbourne the year prior to my arrival. We’d sadly missed each other by a gap of just one month. He’d been sending me some advice on getting settled, as well as keeping an ear out among his mates for me. One tweeted that his cafe needed baristas. Now I don’t know my ass from my elbow when it comes to coffee but, on the off chance they might need some floor staff as well, I brought by my CV (that’s ‘resume’ for us North American types).

And they did. And I got the job.

But before I did, I’d also dropped my CV off at another cafe Ger had recommended. On the tram ride there, I noticed an ‘MMA Fight Store’ on Elizabeth Street. And I thought, “Hey, there’s a good spot to ask where the best gyms in town are.”

(Side note: Yes, I had done little to no research prior to moving to Melbourne, either on the city or on, hell, how one actually goes about getting into competitive fighting. I’ve only recently noticed, looking back on my life choices, the painful lack of planning and/or forethought before I act. From dropping a photojournalism gig to just hound some guy to teach me tattooing to galavanting off to India for shits and giggles. . .there’s a distinct lack of research on my part before I pursue things. I’d say this is a problem. . .but, by some charmed aligning of the stars, it doesn’t seem to be working out too badly. In the long run. Most of the time.)

So, on the way back into town I stopped into the store and the dude recommended a place within the city. Later that day I had a trial class booked for the following Monday.

But I got excited and decided Monday was too far away and showed up that evening instead to do both the MMA and Muay Thai classes. It was on the way back from those first sessions, which were awesome, that I was called in for my trial shift at the cafe. And so, less than one week into my life in Melbourne, I’d found a job and a gym.

That was a productive day.

During all this time I’d been living out of a hostel in South Yarra. I was scouring online flatmate finder sites for something more permanent but wasn’t having any luck landing a place.

Meatspace proved more fruitful than cyberspace. I’d been asking around at work to see if any of my co-workers knew of someone looking for a roommate. A couple days in I hit gold – Fran was looking to leave her place; she’d been living more often at her boyfriend’s as of late, and needed to stop paying for a room she wasn’t really using. We set up a time for me to meet her roommates, who seemed fucking lovely, and, shortly thereafter, I had a home.

Home, sweet mattresses.

. . .a home I’d found through work, which I’d found through Ger.

And it was with Fran that I went shopping for odds and ends on Sydney road in Brunswick. While waiting for her tram to get in I wandered the shops and, on a whim, poked my head into a bicycle shop there. A couple weeks later I returned to pick up my beloved ‘Tobias‘.

Bike life FTW. 2>4

. . .who I found through Fran, who I found through work, which I found through Ger.

Meanwhile, back at work, every time I went to take a piss I’d glance up at the poster that hung on the back of the stall door, advertising a Media Talks panel coming up at the end of August. Attendance was by application. And, wanting to become more adept at interactions in social media, I thought “fuck it, I should do that.

So I did. And I got in. (The following photos are via Faustina Agolley)

I swear I don’t look like this when I look in a mirror.

The panel was awesome, and I left it feeling hella inspired. I went on a mad writing tear afterwards and got my first blog post in a while up. I also sent off another application – Faustina Agolley, who had arranged the panel, had mentioned in her blog that a group called the Global Poverty Project were looking for volunteers for their Melbourne office. Their opening for a ‘researcher/writer’ caught my eye. After reading up on the organization and the position a bit more I grew excited. I’d wanted to dip my foot in the waters of NGO work for a while, and this seemed a decent niche for me to fit into.

So I applied. And got an interview. And got the position.

. . .a position I heard about at a conference I heard about from work. . .which I. . .ah, you get the idea by this point.

And so, by around early September I was pretty set. I’d a job, a home, a gym, a volunteer gig and a bicycle on which to move between them all. . .all courtesy of connections stemming from an Irish ginger I owe a big ‘thank you’ to. (Seriously, Ger – thanks, dude).

As charmed as this all sounds, there’s definitely a number of lessons to be pulled from it but, for the sake of brevity (admittedly not my strong point), I’ll focus on the one: Honour your connections, people. And that goes both ways.

I’ve had an outstanding amount of help and support from friends and acquaintances throughout the years. I like to think I’ve earned that boon by putting my own time in where I can. I may not always be able to pay it back direct to the people who’ve aided me, but I try and stock my karma points where I can.

Karma Goes Both Ways

Karma goes both ways (Photo credit: LexnGer)

I’ve edited translations for friends for whom English wasn’t their first language, sent off numerous messages offering advice on travel and tattooing when requested and hooked up people with connections of mine where I can. I’m big on the concept of karma.

(Sometimes too big, really. For instance, I really try not to kill things. Like, anything. So, while doing my dishes today, as tempting as it was to finish by using the scrub pad to sweep the ant hoard that has dubbed our kitchen home into the sink and down with the suds, I let the little bastards continue their insistent marching occupation of the counter surface, naively hoping they’ll eventually become bored and just leave without blood spilled. We’ll see how this goes).

You don’t have to be quite so severe with it, but it’s an almost undeniable truth: Nine times out of ten, you get what you give.


*This post was about events that took place from July – Sept 2012.

2 thoughts on “How a friendship maintained since Ireland led me to a job, a home, a gym, a volunteer spot and even, really, a bicycle

  1. Pingback: Adventures with Australian Wildlife | On the Road to Ithaca

  2. I think most of our lives are strings of these weird coincidences. I know I look back at mine and see all the places it could have so easily shifted to another track…but it didn’t. In this universe, anyway.

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