Sunday, 14 June 2009

Shaving. It sucks.

I don't like to hate, life is way too short. I can count on one hand the people in life I have met that I actively despise, and still have fingers left over. There are many people I haven't met that I hate, but I am sure if I met them in real life I would no doubt reconsider - except for Chris Martin off of Coldplay. I don't think I would ever tire of punching him in the throat.
One thing I do hate though is shaving. Not so much the act itself, more the aftermath, and mainly the bleeding and the rash. No matter what preparations I take, or any kind of after care, my chin always ends up with more pus than a leper with a multitude of infected tumours. I swear it is a miracle that I haven't yet been found languishing on a bathroom floor having almost bled out through my nut sac.
I find it's a necessary evil though, as I am not too fond of having a beard for a few reasons. Namely, I generally associate beards with sandal-wearing tree-hugging hippies with a fondness for tie-dye, or fat, sweaty middle aged perverts hanging out the back of children. And all the mini-beard combinations I associate with nob-heads.
There is also the worry of walking around with half a hot-dog matted into the hair. I was once on a training course run by a guy with a big, long, ZZ Top style beard. While he was watching us try some of the practical exercises, eating a sandwich, he sneezed. A vile combination of bread, cheese, and sputum ended up in a big lump halfway down - and fused into - his face fuzz. Watching him shamelessly trying to remove it almost put me off bread, cheese and sputum for life.
It's a rock/hard place situation for me however, as the only thing that rivals my vanity in magnitude is my laziness. And although I have made peace with being a scruffy twat, I don't like people to know this about me straight off the bat. I'd rather they had to work a little bit to find this out. So with two events in mind - first day at a new job followed the next day by casual ski instructor try-outs at Coronet Peak - I hacked at my face once again for what will no doubt be the last time for a few weeks at least.

The work - not too bad. I only have a few shifts this week. The first day we just spent a little time going through ski/board fitting, went for a drive to check out the hotels that the deliveries go to and then just hung around waiting for people to want to hire equipment. Which many of them didn't and probably won't until well into next week. So essentially right now my job is just like being unemployed still, just in a different location, with better pay, and with less Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women (which I seriously think should be renamed to Four Sluts on a Sofa).

The casual try-outs, slightly different. I recalled the horrific Quiksilver interview and how my lack of research possibly scuppered my chances of being a retail tard, and knuckled down a few days beforehand to go through all the New Zealand ski teaching progressions to refresh them in my head. I started panicking somewhat, as the more I read, the more I forgot, and the more I confused myself. But I persevered and spent every minute that I wasn't looking at Norwegian lesbian porn with my nose stuck in the manual. The nights preceding it, the bus ride in the morning, whilst eating breakfast at McDonalds, the coach ride up the hill. Every single spare minute that I didn't have an internet connection to distract me.
The try-outs were to be a brutal affair. There were around 18 skiers, and they were looking to hire 8. Split into two groups, the deal was that the morning would be spent having skiing assessments, and the afternoon would be teaching assessments. At any point during the day the group would stop, and if anyone didn't meet the required standards they were taken aside and told not to bother carrying on. It was quite similar to the dance-off scene in Grease, but with less gayness and more career at stake. I approached the ski school director beforehand, a Frenchman with a very thick moustache that I swear I saw mushy peas stuck in, and explained that I had a commitment with my current job and could only probably work a few days per week as this job will in all likelihood turn full time. He told me they were really looking for a solid 5 days, 6 during school holidays, so not to bother trying out for it but he appreciated my turning up and especially letting him know this. I appreciated his appreciation, as much as you can appreciate a Frenchman, and just spent the rest of the day skiing.

Elsewhere, the spare room in the house has now been filled. In a bizarre sequence of events a Japanese girl and Indian fella were shown around on a Friday night and then asked which one of them the room was for. Confusion was rife as they proclaimed it was for neither of them. They then explained that it was for a friend of theirs who was arriving from Japan on Saturday. So they were subtly told to maybe pop back when the person that wanted to move in was actually in the country. I guess I only find this situation odd because I know my friends, and I can't trust them enough to leave my mobile phone unattended let alone leave them to find me a place to live.
However, their friend came back on Sunday night, liked the place and moved in Monday. She then spent the day on the following Saturday doing the whole CV whoring thing, and has a job lined up to start on Sunday. Less than a week she has been in Queenstown, and already has a place to live and a job. I know, I have both, I should consider myself lucky, but I can't help but feel that a combination of being as flabby-titted as I was when I was clinically obese, and a wonderbra, may have got me in there sooner.

That is all for now. Please excuse what will most likely be a lack of forthcoming updates, I don't see too much of interest happening in the next few weeks until the season gets off into full swing. I apologise, but I hope you will appreciate that the first few weeks I had a lot pent up to report on so it all came out pretty quickly and now I have got it all out of my system, it will slowly peter out into a bit of a trickle, no doubt leaving you with a sense of unfulfillment and disappointment. In fact, imagine it akin to a sexual experience with me.

Except that when I apologise for the blog, I actually mean it.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

My bathroom has 3 doors

Honestly, it has. A door to the bathroom, a door to the toilet, and a cunning sliding door affair to shut off the toilet from the bathroom in case someone needs to micturate or defecate when someone else is showering. When I was younger, more foolish and a little more naive, all I wanted in life was one of those huge fridge-freezer combos with an ice dispenser on the outside of the front door. And someone similar to Jenna Jameson in looks, moral fibre and loose virtue to dispense the ice into my Jack and Diet. Naked. (Incidentally, for those unfamiliar with Jenna Jameson's body of work, please do not google her. Especially not at work). But now, I have a bathroom with 3 doors, leading to endless door/room combinations to experiment with. Which cunningly leads me onto explaining a bit about where I am living, in what will probably be a journey into bone-crushing, eye-watering, shit-a-kidney tedium.

I have been here almost a week now, in a scenic little area just outside Queenstown centre, called Sunshine Bay. Which kind of makes me feel like I live in an Australian soap opera, albeit with less hot jail bait Aussie chicks. The house I am living in is set on three floors, with a lounge and kitchen at the top, two bedrooms and a bathroom on the middle floor (with 3 doors!), and a bedroom, bathroom and garage at the bottom. I still can't get used to saying that I am going down to bed though. The view from the lounge balcony is the photo above, which is also the view from both the windows in my bedroom. The windows that dribble cold air over my head when I am trying to sleep. I took a bus ride to Frankton the other day to pick up a heater, but to be honest it is quite small, and offers about as much heat as a tea light unless you sit directly on it, but then that just fills the bedroom with the smell of singed hair and burnt scrotum.
I've ridden the public transport out here a few times now, at first with trepidation, but in comparison to the bus in England it is, as most things out here are, a pleasant experience. A fact no doubt attributed to the lack of council estates, poor people and limited availability of Stella Artois in cans.
From Sunshine Bay, it is about a 25 minute walk into Queenstown (uphill), and then a 25 minute walk back (uphill). Despite this, it is a very scenic walk - a woodland track that runs by the side of the lake - so I am more than happy to walk it. When I first walked it, nightfall was coming fast, and as it got darker and darker I started to worry a little. Firstly, because walking some woodland routes like this in Canada you have to worry about bears. No problem down here, no dangerous wildlife. Secondly, because walking some routes like this in England you have to worry about sexual predators. No problem there either, as the main protagonist is walking a woodland path in Queenstown. And as night falls, it becomes harder to walk as my eyes are constantly drawn to the sky, where there are more stars than I have ever seen in my life. No picture I could take could possibly do the night sky any justice. So close your eyes, and press the heels of your palms against your eyelids as hard as you can until you see spots. It's like that but better. You can stop doing it now, I can't be held responsible for anyone reading this ending up spending the rest of their lives walking into furniture.

So back once again to the house. It is still the two of us here, myself and another English guy who holds the lease. The third bedroom is currently being advertised and viewed. In the interests of redressing the imbalance created by having two guys living here, the advert has been asking for a female. There have been a few come to view it so far. The only one who was genuinely interested however was ruled out for various valid, and not shallow at all reasons. Being fat and ugly had no influence on the decision. The majority of interest has been from South American girls, who have strangely expressed a huge interest, then changed their minds but brought round different male friends on the basis that it would be perfect for them. Each time they return, they come with more friends who they think it would be more suitable for. I am starting to think they just like hanging out here. We disagree about the suitability of their friends on the basis that the ones they bring round have too much penis and not enough vagina.

Moving on further, I think I have finally found a job. I went for training the other day, and have 3 shifts this week starting on Wednesday. It is working in a rental shop in Queenstown, delivering equipment to hotels in the area and helping out wherever else I am needed. I say I think as I have still not signed any contract, or got any of the finer details sorted out, but I am pretty sure it's nailed on. The benefits as far as season passes/rides to the mountains are great, and it is going to be good to finally have something to do other than walk uphill into Queenstown whoring my C.V. to all and sundry and waiting for the inevitable unsuccessful e-mails/phone calls. I am also attending the casual instructor try-outs for Coronet Peak and the Remarkables on Thursday which I am hoping I won't balls-up as spectacularly as I did with Quiksilver.

And finally, yesterday was opening day for Coronet Peak, so I headed up there with a few people for a day skiing once again. To be honest it was a bit of a damp squib. In fact returning to the lavatorial theme I opened with, it was much like waking up on a Sunday after a night out followed by a kebab or curry, making a coffee and grabbing the Sunday paper WITH the supplements and heading upstairs in the knowledge that it will be a long, arduous but immensely satisfying experience, only for it come out in a series of little tiny rabbit pellets leaving you deflated, crestfallen, and most importantly still hungover.
Not that it wasn't a good day overall, essentially the important thing was that I was skiing and on snow again, which is always amazing. And after having work done on my boots they don't hurt as much as they did last season. I was just expecting a bit more of a fanfare being the opening day, when all I could really see happening was a one-man band outside the restaurant - essentially just a busker with more speakers. It could have been improved by replacing him with the legendary recorder-playing busker from Christchurch. And the weather wasn't great, a little low on visibility. But the snow was good, and like I said, I was skiing once again, which made me happier than a dog with two dicks.

And in a final final completely unrelated note, in fact more related to the hilarious "Beaver Liquor" than anything else, during my C.V. whoring I popped into a job agency where the helpful lady informed me to come back next week as she was in the process of sorting through the piles she already had to find out who was still available. My eyes were drawn to a C.V. on her desk. In the name of Ming Poon.
Where is a middle initial "e" when you really need it?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Quiksilver Interview

Way back when I was 13 and in school, I had a bit of a passion for Craft, Design and Realisation. For the very few of you reading this that are older than me, that was the fancy new name for woodwork, metalwork, that kind of thing. My passion was unbridled. Almost.
I could think of nothing I enjoyed more than designing something I neither really wanted nor needed, drawing up plans, measuring, gathering the materials, getting halfway through before deciding there was something more important I could be designing that I neither really wanted nor needed, drawing up plans, etc etc. Ad infinitum. 0.3 recurring.
The passion was still there to create though, so much so that I gave up quite a few lunchtimes in a teacher supervised workshop to create on my own time. And, of course, avoid any playground taunts for being a fat gobshite with a squeaky voice. It was during one of these sessions that I found I needed to trim down a small, probably 2 inch long at the most, piece of wooden dowelling. Off to the bandsaw I went to cut it down to make it fit into whatever bonfire fuel I was making that week. Now, the thing about dowelling, it's very essence, is that it is cylindrical. And if you apply downward pressure to one side of a cylindrical object, it spins. And feeds your thumb straight into the bandsaw blade. It didn't feel too bad right then, and the teacher at the time told me to run it under the cold tap and it would be fine, but the pool of blood forming in my hand did not inspire me with confidence.
My 13 year old sorry sobbing frame was driven to the hospital by my wonderful mother, and fortunately I was seen quite quickly from what I remember. The blade had cut around about 2/3rd's of my thumb, but missed the bone, so after a quick check by the nurse (involving peeling the end of it away to check), I was prepared to get it numbed and stitched up. The anaesthetic needle was driven multiple times into the fleshy base of my thumb. It was agony. I am not ashamed to say I screamed the hospital down. If I was my grown-up, quick-witted smart-ass self by that point I would have asked for an anaesthetic for the anaesthetic. 5 stitches later, I was whole again, with a week off school to look forward to. Happy days. Aside from the obvious general heartbreak, and the loss of loved ones, this incident was by far the most painful experience of my life.

Until now.

I donned my finest O'Neill t-shirt, dropped my jeans to just-below-butt level, and got to the "group interview" just before 3 today to find a sign on the door with the schedule of events. Photograph, Questionnaire, Intro, Game - The Bus Stop, Game - The Spoon, Q&A. As we filed in one by one, in what felt like the queue for the shower at Auschwitz, we were given name badges and had the photo taken. Name badges in this situation have one use and one use only. It gives the perfect excuse to look at some of the pendulous breasts on display. "Suzanne, is that Suzanne?? Is that a Z?? Sorry, my eyes aren't that good, I may need to get closer. Do you mind if I touch each letter as I read it?".
Onto the questionnaire then. Which didn't bode well. First question - Why do you want to work for Quiksilver? The answer I didn't put was "because like everyone else here I am in a foreign country, with no job, and no income, and I have applied at every place in Queenstown, and you are one of the only ones to respond". Do they honestly expect that each and every person there has had aspirations to work for them since they were toddlers, and by happy coincidence they may now get the chance due to a new store opening up?
Second question - What do you know about Quiksilver boardriders? I knew, I knew I should have done some research. I was in Starbucks earlier drinking the equivalent of the English Channel in Latte thinking that I needed to. I planned to stop off at the internet cafe on the way down but misjudged the time. Historically, my brutal honesty in this situation got me a 10 year career with B.T. but I have a feeling it may not do me any favours this time round. The guy next to me kept looking at his mobile phone. I think the smart-arse may have texted himself some company history. Tosser.
The other questions were relatively easy, customer service related generally. The last one however, slightly different kettle of fish - Describe in your own words, the qualities that define a team player. After the first two questions didn't go too well, I didn't really take the rest too seriously. This is how, after a little babble about various things, I ended up writing something of David Brent-esque cringe-worthy proportions - "There is no 'I' in team". Yes, I actually wrote that. Mainly tongue in cheek, but looking back on it I may have to nip off for 5 minutes to repeatedly headbutt a bed of nails tipped with arsenic.
On to the games. The Bus Stop game consisted of getting into groups and having to decide which one of 3 people to save from certain death - a 90 year old woman with wads of cash (that you don't know about), your soulmate (who you don't know, so don't know that she is your soulmate), or your best friend who has saved your life a few times before. And in The Spoon Game, we were given a fork(?) and had to come up with as many different uses no matter how bizarre. Essentially it just seemed like we had to write down any objects, in the world ever, that weren't forks. Which is how we came up with Virgin Atlantic Space Station. And then had to sell it to the Quiksilver guys via jingles, skits, adverts etc. I spent most of my time next to the door, hoping to get out as soon as possible. There were 38 people in this interview. I counted them, twice. Although it was a necessary evil, I think I would rather have had a urethral swab with a cactus. A really wide one too.
Apparently they will call the successful people halfway through next week. To be honest, the mobile reception where I am is quite poor so I don't expect my phone to ring.

It's not all horrific car-crash news though. I moved into my new place yesterday. It's nice here, but a little cold in the bedroom. I like a cold room, in fact sometimes there is nothing nicer than waking in the morning in a chilled room, where it is nice and warm under the duvet. But I can see my breath, which is never good. I have been all round town looking for a heater today, but for some reason nowhere sells them. Which in a town that's not quite as cold as Siberia where none of the properties seem to have insulation or heating, it seems odd that no-one has cornered the niche in this market.
I also have work lined up for later this month. I have been taken on for a few days a week delivering rental equipment to hotels, which may lead to more hours. The benefits are awesome too as far as lift passes and rides to the mountains go. I go in on Friday for training.
And I bought gummi bears, and chocolate covered raisins.
But the best news ever, for today at least, I walked past a liquor store called "Beaver Liquor". Honestly.