another day older and deeper in debt

This one’s in chat log form, because I’ve written enough continuous prose in the last few days.

[12:40:14] Brosencrantz: Caroline, Milena and I are all moving into a place just down the road – we were getting tired of Chili Blue, which is very much a party hostel (and the wifi doesn’t work!) and were looking at other options
[12:41:18] Brosencrantz: We checked online, looked around, knocked on some doors, had a couple of potentially promising options but nothing a huge step up from CB
[12:41:21] Cantrix: So Milena’s sticking with you guys for now? That’s nice, you have a group :)
[12:41:37] Brosencrantz: Yeah, probably until Christmas!
[12:42:20] Brosencrantz: Then Caroline pointed us to the stairs of this one I’d not even noticed – it doesn’t have a website or a big light-up sign or anything – and there’s this AMAZING bloke at reception
[12:42:37] Brosencrantz: looks kind of Native American, though he might be some sort of Pacific Islander, I dunno, dark reddish-brown skin, straight black hair in a ponytail, fairly flat nose
[12:42:53] Brosencrantz: I’d say in his early sixties, but maybe a bit younger
[12:43:38] Brosencrantz: oh wait, I just googled his name, it’s actually Maori :D I SUCK at identifying people’s ethnicity
[12:43:54] Brosencrantz: his name, we later learned, is Rehutai, though he says to call him Billy
[12:43:54] Cantrix: Well, that would make since, given proximity to New Zealand
[12:44:06] Cantrix: And it’s not like you see many Maoris in Britain :)
[12:44:08] Brosencrantz: He has a scouse accent though
[12:44:18] Cantrix: Really? That’s awesome :D
[12:44:24] Brosencrantz: Well
[12:44:25] Brosencrantz: Sort of
[12:44:47] Brosencrantz: he has this incredibly broad accent with definite hints of all sorts of shit, Scouse being one of the stronger ones
[12:45:16] Brosencrantz: I DEFINITELY couldn’t pin down where he’s from, and he seems to have lived and worked everywhere from the stories he was telling
[12:45:24] Brosencrantz: Anyway, we go in, look around, ask if he has a triple, what his rates are
[12:45:39] Brosencrantz: $25/night, which is better than most of the hostels
[12:45:43] Brosencrantz: though not much
[12:45:50] Brosencrantz: He hands us a key and tells us to go and look at the room
[12:45:58] Brosencrantz: I ask him as we’re going “you got wifi, right?” and he says “no, sorry”
[12:46:08] Brosencrantz: which for all of us is a massive dealbreaker
[12:46:27] Brosencrantz: but Caroline and Milena were already going up the stairs, so for politeness’ sake we went and looked at the room
[12:46:29] Cantrix: I thought it was odd that you’d voluntarily gone for a non-WIFI place
[12:46:36] Brosencrantz: and it was REALLY REALLY NICE
[12:46:41] Brosencrantz: like
[12:47:22] Brosencrantz: kitchenette, microwave, fridge, telly, nice beds which don’t look like they’re falling apart in a room which doesn’t look like IT’S falling apart
[12:47:29] Brosencrantz: a MASSIVE step up from CB
[12:47:47] Brosencrantz: (I am steadily redefining my sense of “nice”, which I think is a good way to be thankful for things)
[12:48:33] Brosencrantz: “it has a roof” -> “you can sleep there at night without being woken constantly” -> “it has its own cupboards” -> “it has its own cooking facilities” -> “IT HAS WIFI”
[12:48:37] Brosencrantz: Haven’t reached that final holy grail
[12:49:04] Brosencrantz: But we’re all “:0 this is so much fucking better”, exacerbated by how when we come down he says “yeah it’s mostly workers here, not a party hostel, you’re getting drunk and making noise at night I throw you out”
[12:49:50] Brosencrantz: Anyway, we say we’ll go away and think about it over a cup of tea, and we do, but we’re all pretty much sold, thinking we can get a net dongle and use the library (wifi doesn’t work at CB, so not a step down)
[12:50:23] Brosencrantz: We come back, say we’d like to stay there starting Wednesday, and chat a bit, it comes up we’re looking for jobs, he says to Caroline he has a job for her
[12:50:33] Brosencrantz: She records an answerphone message for him for $10
[12:50:57] Brosencrantz: Then he has Caroline and Milena both SING
[12:51:09] Brosencrantz: he claims to have written a song for Bette Midler which earned him five million dollars back in the day
[12:51:49] Brosencrantz: And he says he might have a job for me at 7:30 the following morning
[12:52:32] Brosencrantz: So I went round this morning, he hands me over to this taciturn plasterer bloke, who walks me to a building site a little way from the hostel and tells me to ask for Sam
[12:53:04] Brosencrantz: (I think it’s renovation they’re doing there, but pretty hardcore renovation, like, tearing everything out)
[12:53:10] Brosencrantz: And I start my FIRST and PROBABLY ONLY construction gig
[12:54:32] Brosencrantz: First Sam has me carrying these 20kg sacks of sand
[12:54:40] Brosencrantz: which isn’t bad at all
[12:55:02] Brosencrantz: and then these square sacks of cement, same weight but much more annoying and difficult to manhandle
[12:55:46] Brosencrantz: Then I’m hoiking planks from one part of the site to another, I’m AMAZED I didn’t end up stabbing myself on any of the nails sticking out, they’re all shapes and sizes
[12:56:27] Brosencrantz: from these splintery little kindling bits to huge semi-rotted timber beams about nine feet long, six inches to a side square
[12:56:33] Brosencrantz: and then some sacks of bricks and rubble
[12:57:30] Brosencrantz: After that I’m… let me set the scene fully
[12:58:02] Brosencrantz: Two decent-sized rooms with high ceilings joined onto one another, like a square-edged 8 shape
[12:58:48] Brosencrantz: Underneath, about four feet down from the floorboards, there’s a lower level, and in the middle of that is this service passage thing which goes down another four feet or so
[12:59:19] Brosencrantz: The floorboards have been taken up unevenly, lots of the supporting joists are still there, but the actual boards almost entirely stripped away one side
[13:00:06] Brosencrantz: The lower level bit is full of random bricks and timber and mess and shitloads of brick and plaster dust, and my next job is to tidy that
[13:00:53] Brosencrantz: Chucking rocks into sacks, chipping away all the little globs of cement and sweeping up fine brick dust while bent double
[13:01:10] Brosencrantz: I asked for a mask, but it was useless, so I ended up breathing through my t-shirt
[13:01:50] Brosencrantz: I cleaned away this area of about ten square metres before the bossman asked me to come up, and I hauled myself up through the floorboards
[13:03:05] Brosencrantz: And he handed this jackhammery electric breaker thing, it was huge, three times the size of a regular electric drill
[13:03:05] Cantrix: I’m glad this is going to be a one-off job for you, sweeping up brick dust without a mask
[13:03:38] Brosencrantz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Makita_demolition_breaker.jpg This sort of thing
[13:04:16] Brosencrantz: And pointed at this huge wooden beam that was stuck in the wall, half running behind the mantelpiece, and told me to get it out
[13:04:54] Brosencrantz: I tried just pressing the head up against the wall and pulling the trigger, it almost jumped out of my hands and made no impression on the wall
[13:06:27] Brosencrantz: He showed me that you have to sort of thrust with it at the same time, and be stabbing into the bricks and mortar and plaster as you pulverise them, and to brace myself somehow while standing on two subfloor joists which were both about two inches wide
[13:06:40] Brosencrantz: Then he and the other dude in the room basically took off and left me to it
[13:07:48] Brosencrantz: I managed it in the end, there was this really cool feeling of accomplishment when I’d smashed the hell out of both ends and wiggled this huge beam (it probably weighed more than you) out from the wall and behind the pipes
[13:08:08] Brosencrantz: Oh, there were also lots of random electrical cables running everywhere and sticking out of the walls
[13:08:14] Cantrix: Oh dear
[13:08:27] Brosencrantz: But I’m amazed I didn’t end up killing myself somehow
[13:09:17] Brosencrantz: Then he moved me on to the next room, which was similar, except with twice as many bricks and bits of heavy shit to deal with, loads of planks to duck under, and there was a burst pipe leaking on the floor so everything was really wet and soggy
[13:09:25] Brosencrantz: which is not easy to brush up, and I just had a plastic dustpan, not a shovel
[13:09:57] Brosencrantz: Oh, and there was another dude standing on a couple of planks and using another of the breakers to fuck huge holes in the wall, so bits of brick and stuff were constantly raining down
[13:10:10] Brosencrantz: Bright side, not nearly as much brick dust
[13:10:44] Brosencrantz: A couple of times he had me move these REALLY heavy beams, the two of us could barely lift them, while he was on the upper floorboardy level and I was on the lower level
[13:11:31] Brosencrantz: Which was tough enough just carrying, but halfway across the path we had to move them, there was this fairly fragile plastic pipe
[13:12:26] Brosencrantz: So I had to duck under that while holding this massive chunk of wood in one hand and quickly-as-possible grab it with the other, in this ridiculous contortionist wiggle where if I let go it would fall, crush me, and probably drive fragments of pipe through my back
[13:12:38] Brosencrantz: This was when I started getting real headaches and feeling sick
[13:12:59] Cantrix: 0 . 0
[13:13:12] Brosencrantz: I went back to grubbing my stuff up, but after a few minutes went over to tell the bossman I wasn’t well and could I take a break
[13:13:26] Brosencrantz: Halfway through my feeble requests I threw up in a corner
[13:13:37] Brosencrantz: He said “go home mate” and gave me $37
[13:13:47] Brosencrantz: Here endeth the adventure :D
[13:13:58] Brosencrantz: I can still taste cement when I breathe through my nose
[13:14:38] Brosencrantz: So
[13:14:40] Brosencrantz: How was your day?

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