The last time I wrote, I had gotten my first write-up at work and I was expecting to have my second meeting for not being fast enough. However, I’ll save that update for the end of my post. December was full of trying to make it feel like Christmas here! During the first weekend in December, I went to Melbourne. On Saturday afternoon, my landlord (Lily) was having a birthday party at the house so I spent the morning making cupcakes. Once the group left to go to a vineyard, I packed up my stuff and headed into the city. I met up with Brooke and Sylvia to go to the grand opening of Taco Bell. The food was really good, and we got some free taco socks to wear! After dinner, we met up with Vic and Natalie to go to the Legally Blonde musical. It was actually way better than what we expected (although we weren’t really sure what to expect), and we all really enjoyed it! Since it was likely the only time I’d be in the city that month, I really wanted to check out some of the Christmas lights. Once the musical finished, we had about a half hour to check out the Flinders Street lights, and an hour and a half to check out the lights at the casino. No joke, we spent about an hour of that time looking for parking (for two cars). By that time, Sylvia left so it was just me and Brooke. We FINALLY found parking at ten minutes to midnight, but saw that the spot was a no-parking zone between midnight and 5am. We decided to risk it and ran through the casino to make it JUST in time to see the last Christmas show of the night (however I spent the entire ten minutes freaking out that my car would be gone by the time we got back to it). Thankfully, my car was still there so we drove to Brooke’s house.
The next day, Brooke and I drove into the city to meet up with Kitty for brunch. Luckily, she has a parking spot downtown in her parkade, so we didn’t have to spend ages looking for parking again. We had an amazing brunch and then walked around the CBD to check out some of the shops and Christmas festivities. It was such a nice day, so we decided to sit by the river for some (nonalcoholic) drinks and appetizers before I had to head back to Warragul. Kitty and I walked back to her place so I could get my car and upon backing out of her parking spot, I ended up backing into a guardrail and completely shattering my rear light, as well as part of my bumper. I was so upset, cause nothing like that has ever happened before and I vowed never to drive to the city again (a little overdramatic on my part, but I still haven’t went back to the city yet). Anyway, aside from the car damage, the weekend was really great!
The following weekend, Sylvia and Brooke decided to come to Warragul! Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the greatest so we didn’t get to do any day hikes or excursions, but we still made the most of them being here. After having dinner at my house, we drove to Yarragon to catch the last half hour of their twilight market, and then we drove to Moe to go to their Carols in the Park event. It was so cute seeing the small group of people sitting on the grass, singing Christmas carols! We walked around the area and ran into Santa, who actually ended up sitting and talking to us for 10-15 minutes. He was waiting for his grand entrance and had no one else to talk to, so he seemed excited that we walked by. When the show finished, we headed back to Warragul to check out some of the Christmas lights and wow, some of the houses went above and beyond! We headed back to the house to watch a very weird Christmas movie and then all slept in my room – it was the first proper slumber party I’ve had in a long time! The next day, we drove to Rokeby to go to their Christmas market, which was huge! We ended up staying until it closed, and then drove back to Warragul to have brunch at Main Street Cafe. We only had a couple of hours left until the girls had to head back to the city, so we went back to my house to watch Elf while making a Christmas gummy house (the alternative to a gingerbread house). The next day, Losa moved out because she wanted to be a bit closer to Melbourne for work. It was weird not having her there, even though we hardly ever saw each other during the week anyway!
The next weekend was my first weekend that I’d have to work Saturday (which will probably continue for the next month or so), but I still managed to spend the entire week baking. On Wednesday, I made cookie dough and then on Thursday, I cooked the cookies, and on Friday I made two sets of cupcakes (gingerbread and Oreo-candy cane). This was because on Saturday after work, we were having a get-together for Christmas (and to thank our boss for his hard work!). Also that week (on Friday), Yang moved out of the house because he was done with his six-month placement. That only left me, Lily, and Jesse. However, we had a couple of people come look at the house after work on Saturday and that evening, one of them moved in temporarily (for one week) because the house that she wanted to move into wouldn’t be available until after Christmas. On Sunday, I ended up making a pound cake so that on Monday, I could make a raspberry trifle (literally baked 5 of 7 days that week).
We worked at the farm on Christmas Eve but later that evening, one of my coworkers was doing a barbecue at his house (which is what I made the trifle for). His house was absolutely gorgeous, and it was nice being able to spend some more time with coworkers outside of work. I also got to try pavlova for the first time, which is an Aussie dessert made of meringue – so good! The next day was Christmas, which I got to have off. I spent the morning Facetiming my family (during their Christmas Eve) and then I decided to drive out to Phillip Island to do a 3-hour hike around Cape Woolamai, which was absolutely gorgeous! I only saw one other person on the trail, and I saw at least ten wallabies! During the few days before Christmas, I really started to feel upset about being alone (since most of my Melbourne friends were travelling, and my flatmates would be spending it with family) but once the day came, it really wasn’t so bad after all. Plus going for a hike in hot weather made me forget that it was even Christmas! I also ended up getting Boxing Day off, so I used that day to relax and finish my painting. We had to work Friday and Saturday, and now I just have today off until I go back to work for two more days and then it’s New Year’s Eve! Needless to say, this week has completely messed up my sleep schedule, so I’m kind of looking forward to getting back into a regular routine again (although the extra days off don’t hurt!).
So now, what happened at work? Well, I was assuming that I’d have a second meeting when I went back to work the Monday after my last blog post. However, that meeting didn’t happen. So then, I waited for Tuesday (and it was driving me nuts!). My supervisor said that he was going to give me a second chance for my second chance, so I’d have another week to redeem myself. However, I noticed that things still weren’t getting any better that week. Some rows that I got were horrible, and they’d take 1.5 to 2 hours to finish. Since we were supposed to finish a row in an hour or less, if I got ONE bad row, I knew that my daily average would be completely screwed. I decided that I’d have to gather evidence to prove that it wasn’t my fault. I was able to do SOME rows in less than an hour, and some took me way longer, so for my next meeting, I was planning to get a detailed daily report of all of my rows in order to show the difference in time (since the average is the only number that’s shown everyday, which doesn’t give much information). I also noticed that my supervisor had done a couple of random quality checks during the week, so I was hoping that he was seeing what I was seeing. That Wednesday, I was doing a horrible row – there were laterals all the way down the plant. Another coworker (Kim) was in the row next to me and she started complaining about the row that she was in. You see, when we finish a row, we HAVE to do the row across from it (so we’re doing two rows by the same person). Then when we finish those two rows, we have to go to the next available row. Occasionally, there will be a picker or another worker in the row, so then we have to write TW next to the row so that someone else can do that row when it becomes available. Kim had said that the row she was doing had TW written on it, but she was confused because pickers are never in on Wednesdays (so no one should have been in that row, and therefore it shouldn’t have been skipped). She thought that maybe the row had been her row the previous week, and someone was setting her up to show that her quality was bad. I had noticed things being fishy that week, and said that I was going to keep my eye out during the next week. At lunch, one of the guys admitted to skipping the row on purpose. When I finished the row that I was doing, my pile of laterals was EXTREMELY high, so I called my supervisor over and made him take a picture of my trolley. When he asked why, I said I was collecting evidence for our next meeting (and since we’re not allowed phones in the shed, he’d have to take the picture for me). As a scientist, you always have to be able to prove your hypothesis! Anyway, Thursday was the day that I cracked (the case, as well as my emotions). I had to finish a couple of bad rows and then when I finally finished, I went to find the next available rows. There was a row with TW written on it so I went into it and immediately noticed that it was another bad row. Lo and behold, the guy who skipped the row the previous day was in the row next to this one. I jokingly started accusing him of skipping the row, asking why he skipped it and what was wrong with it (to be fair, there WAS a picking trolley in the row when I got there, so a picker COULD have been in the row when he skipped it). He said he didn’t know what I was talking about, and I continued working on the row. However, the row was taking FOREVER to get through and by the time break rolled around, I STILL hadn’t finished it. So after three hours of work, I had only scanned one row. I FINALLY finished the row after break and exclaimed loudly, “Yay, I finished my second row!” The guy came over and pointed to two rows and said that after I finish my next row, I could do those two. I was skeptical and asked why, and he said that they were two good-quality rows that would compensate for the two horrible rows I had to do. “Why would I need compensation…?” I asked, confused as to why he’d be helping me for no reason. “Cause they weren’t meant for you.” “So you DID skip the rows on purpose…” I started the next (horrible) row, and as I was doing it, I got more and more upset. They announced for us to start pollination, so I went back to the middle of the shed and the Leading Hand was there. I asked if our supervisor was around and said I had to talk to him. When I got to my supervisor, I said I needed to talk to him and as soon as he asked what’s wrong, I started bawling my eyes out. And it wasn’t just watery eyes – it was full-on crying to the point I was gasping for air and couldn’t even talk cause I was ugly-crying so hard. I said what had happened between sobbing, and my supervisor took me outside to get some air. So I had to walk through the shed (past all of my coworkers) in tears. Once I finally calmed down, he asked me to repeat the story (likely cause he couldn’t understand me the first time). However, he seemed skeptical that it would have happened. “Well, was there a picking trolley in the row?” “Yes.” “And was there fruit in it?” “Yes.” “Well then, there was probably a picker in the row.” “Then, why would he have said the row wasn’t meant for me….?” Anyway, he asked if I wanted to file a complaint and I said no, I just didn’t want it to keep happening. So then he asked what we could do to resolve the issue and I said we’d need to have a meeting and explain that if this happens again, there’ll be consequences. So he said he might have the meeting after lunch, or at the end of the day, or the next day. I knew it would be later than sooner, but I just wanted to make sure it would happen. I went back to work and at the end of the day, I still wanted to prove myself. So I looked up the row and saw that the picker had scanned the row two hours AFTER I had scanned the row. I went straight to my supervisor and said, “There wasn’t a picker in the row.” “How do you know?” “Look up the row and you’ll see that the picker picked AFTER I twisted.” “Okay, we’ll have a meeting first thing tomorrow morning.” Again, a scientist always finds proof! Anyway, on Friday morning, we had a 45-minute meeting and it went exactly the way I wanted it to. Not only were skipped rows talked about, but my supervisor brought up the quality checks and said that the following week, we’d be focusing ONLY on quality (and not speed) so that we could clean everything up. So the following week, everyone slowed down by a lot (I stayed the same speed, which is slow anyway), which showed me how much quality everyone was skipping before. Everything was going fine that week – my supervisor was doing regular quality checks and I didn’t have to stress about my speed for once. Then on Thursday, I was working on a row beside that guy again, and he was complaining about his row. I asked, “Did we both manage to get the worst rows today?” “I think so!” Anyway, he finished his row about 15 minutes before me and then when I finished, I went to go to the row across from me and I saw that he had written TW on the row across from him! No way was this week going to be a repeat of last week… So I wrote his name under TW, and started my next row. My supervisor came and helped me with some of my row, so he for sure saw the guy’s name written down. However, when I finally finished my row, I saw that his name was erased! Fuming, I wrote it again, just as my supervisor was going by. “Why is his name erased?! He is DOING this row!” I said. And my supervisor said that he’d make sure the row gets done. Anyway, the guy ended up being upset at me for writing down his name, but I just wanted things to be fair. I also explained to him that I have teacher senses and I have an eye for bullshit, so I WILL notice if it happens again. And since then, things have been great with everyone! We’re all friends, so no one needs to start badmouthing any of my coworkers – it was just one of those crappy situations where everyone was fighting for their jobs and no one ended up winning in the end. But if all of this didn’t happen and if I didn’t have a huge emotional breakdown, we’d probably still be working with bad quality rows and I likely would have been sacked by now. So in hindsight, all of this turned out for the best. Plus, the week after (when all of the quality was great), I actually picked up my speed without even trying! I got 600 plants per hour on Monday, and 626 plants per hour on Wednesday (and we need to get 560)! Not only that, my supervisor did a surprise quality check on Monday and he said there were absolutely no issues with my row (yay!). However, Thursday and Friday went downhill again so I didn’t actually meet my weekly average (I was short by 12 plants!). Now with all of the days off that we’ve had, we’re behind on twisting again so my time has completely decreased (as in I only completed three rows yesterday). Even still, yesterday my supervisor asked if I was SURE I wanted to leave in April, to which I replied yes, unless I get a promotion (haha). As much as I love my coworkers and the joking around and the (mostly) carefree work environment (especially compared to teaching), it’s definitely been a lot more difficult to sustain myself financially compared to teaching. So I guess I’ll have some big decisions to make come April – with my work history, I tend to choose better work environments over better money situations. As of December 23rd, I reached my halfway point at the farm (meaning I’ve technically done the 88 days of farmwork twice, which also means if anyone wants to complain about doing 88 days of farmwork to me, don’t), so I have less than three months left to complete my six months! Although I might stay for a bit longer if they let me. Anyway, life has been great in Warragul – I’m seriously preferring it to Melbourne more and more! I hope everyone had a great Christmas and is enjoying their holiday wherever they are in the world. Love always