Week 21 – My emotional roller coaster

Hello there, it’s currently 12:30am on a Monday morning and nope I’m not asleep.

I’m not going to work tomorrow but I’m gonna wake up early in the morning to message my supervisor and inform him that I was not able to go work today as my car broke down last night.

I could have send the message on Sunday night but I decide to respect that nobody should be disturbed on weekends (something which doesn’t exist in my previous jobs) so I’m gonna wake up at 6am to send that message.

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This week has been a series of ups for me; all until Sunday evening when my car broke down.

Let’s start with the happy moments.

I started working at a vineyard last week and apart from my first day where I had to waste 1.5 hours of my life because I saw the ‘late start’ text only after reaching the vineyard, my remaining 4 days were pretty amazing. It was an amazing company (possibly the best so far; on par with the ski resort) and the weather has been really kind to me as it wasn’t hot and sunny on most days. The supervisors (and full-time staff) were kind and not that strict with our breaks plus I didn’t get scolded for being too slow or doing too much of a bad job (though I think that wouldn’t be the case for me). To add on, we had a bbq lunch on thursday (there was salad, bread and butter, kebab, meat patties and grilled onions plus gassy drinks) and it could potentially be a weekly affair.

As a result, I’ve not given up on the job yet; despite the long and expensive drive to work each day.

So, what do I do in a vineyard?

  1. Bud Rubbing
    We have to get rid of unwanted new buds/shoots from the ‘trunks’ of the plant in order to ensure that all the nutrients are reserved for the chosen shoots. To do so, we were given gloves withs lightly rough rubber and use our hands to rub against the trunks. As the trunks were low (waist level and below), we often have to do a bend. Some people would choose to alternate bending your back with half or full squats in order to stretch certain parts. We usually do this work about 1 to 3 hours per day and we often do a row in pairs or more; giving us time to ‘rest’ while we walk down.
  2. Wire Lifting
    Grapes are considered ‘creepers or climbers’ plant and support will be required for them to grow up and straight? As a result, every row of grapes have 3 to 4 wires to keep them in shape. What we need to do in the early growth of the vines is that we need to bring down the wire to the appropriate height for the shoots to grow. Also, the wires will keep the plants straight and grow upwards. Without the wires, the shoots may bend in the wrong direction and risk getting damaged by the tractors. This job difficulty is pretty average as it really depends on how tight the wire is. Sometimes I feel it is rather easy but other times, I need to use a lot of strength to force the wire out of the ‘catch’. This definitely feels like an ongoing job which probably need to be repeated every month as the creepers grow taller.
  3. Shoot Thinning
    Similar to my ‘fruit thinning’ experience, we have to select and pick the elite plants and eliminate the weak/smaller/grow in wrong direction/extra plants. So its kind of a QC (Quality Control) work again and we try our best to be accurate with the number of remaining shoots left. We spend the most number of hours per day on this job as it is the most time consuming job. On average, I think I spend about 30 seconds to 1 minute per vine and we have done rows that require up to 2 hours to complete. It is a little less tedious than bud rubbing as you do not have to bend down all the time.
  4. Weeding
    I kind of have a little bit of weeding experience when I was working in the plant nursery back in Christchurch. Back then. we had to use our hands to pull out the weeds and even though it sounds easy, the weeds are a pain in the ass and you kind of need to use a lot of strength to do it. This time round in a vineyard, the weeding is a whole new different level. We were give garden hoes where we have to whack it to the soil to dig the roots of the weeds out. This whacking means you’re working a whole new set of muscles, from your back to your arm and often, strength (which I don’t have) is required. To be honest, if I need to do this on a daily basis, I’m not sure how long I can hold it out for but thankfully for now, I’ve only done 2 hours of it so far.

Before I started this work, I knew it would be hard work and I may just quit in one day cause I couldn’t take the heat and hard work. However, now I find myself being unwilling to resign from the job, despite the long drive to work daily. The people are nice, I have my own space and time to listen to audiobooks and there’s free lunch for one day! The downside is that I still have to pay $10-14 for petrol on a daily basis and my mileage for my vehicle is going up significantly faster than what I thought it would be.

Just some thoughts about this audio books that I’ve ‘read’ so far.

  • The making of a manager by Julie Zhuo – although there are theories/practices that are pretty familiar from the other non-fiction books I’ve read, I really like the way she writes so humbly (despite her high position) and summing things up really well and easy to understand. Although this book is not relevant to me at this point of time, I believe that I am likely to refer back to this some day. No matter which part of the corporate ladder you are at, it’s pretty useful to read the book and understand the different perspective (of perhaps your boss) in why some things turn out this way. You know I’m slightly missing some parts of the corporate life while I was hearing the book.

(and that’s about it for my weekday job. let’s move on to my weekend)

I ended up on a sofa bed at Queenstown on Friday night cause I wasn’t thinking straight when I agreed to drive my friend down for her marathon the next day. It was a good getaway to be honest. I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone till late at night for a really long while. It was also nice to have someone beside me while I drive down that one hour journey to Queenstown. The down side was that I didn’t get a good sleep (well, sofa bed; what can you expect) and the weather was pretty crappy throughout.

I spent a lot of money too. We ate out – Vietnamese for dinner; Japanese for lunch and I had breakfast at a cafe with another friend too. I ended up buying a new pair of waterproof shoes/boots as my current one from mountain warehouse is about to break apart (or perhaps it kind of broke already with holes at the sole at sides; probably from all that ladder climbing). As usual, we ended up at Pak n Save and it only left me more broke than I already am. At that moment, I thought all that spending was fine as I was still gonna get money coming in the following week.

On Sunday, I drove my car to Cromwell (20 mins drive) and continued in my friend’s car to Arrowtown. For my drive there, I did feel a little bit of jerking acceleration when my car was acceleration from 90 to 100kmh. I had this problem before when I first got my car (I had the issue with 60 to 70kmh) and as my car was still covered under the dealers 3 months warranty, I went back and he replaced this thing called ignition coil for me. Car was good since then and the only other problem I had was a punctured tyre two weeks ago and was that the start of my bad luck?

(Let me skip the fun times we had at Arrowtown and Queenstown because it’s too depressing to think of the happy moments when I’m feeling pretty sad right now)

Anyway, so after the jerking acceleration had a bit of issue, I kind of decided to go for a servicing on Monday to make my mind at ease but I guess my car was not satisfied with that wait. I started driving back home (at about 7:45pm) and the car started throttling and I was like oh shit. Maybe my car needs to be warmed up. So I waited for my car engine to heat up and continued driving. Oh crap, it was still throttling even at a speed of 20 to 30 and I’m like, cmon just let me get home. I’ll drive down for servicing tomorrow (at a cheaper town). I went out of the small road and on to the short freeway before hitting the bigger freeway across the bridge and suddenly my engine throttled badly and.. all my engine lights turned up – i kind of call it the screen of death.

Alright, what do I do now? It’s freaking Sunday 8pm and I’m stuck along the roadside and I’m panicking cause I don’t want to settle all these nonsense in the dark. Called AA and turns out that I do not have a membership with them and none of my policies includes a roadside assistance. They offered me a $195 option to sign up for a membership immediately or contact the contractor on my own which will be $150. Well, I thought that since it could possibly be an engine issue, it should be covered in my mechanical breakdown insurance which was gifted to me by my car dealer when I bought the car. However, the people over the phone couldn’t have any single access to the system cause their only job was for ‘roadside assistance’ and I couldn’t call the insurance company either as it was after office hours. Right.

Called my friend (the one who drove me to QT) but she didn’t pick up the phone. I had to get this settled. I called the recommended contractor who would come to check and tow my truck away for $150. On hindsight, the $195 was definitely the better option but.. I wasn’t thinking straight. bad decision.

Anyway, the service guy did eventually come and my car was brought back to the workshop cause he couldn’t diagnose the issue. After his computer diagnosis, he said there was something with a sensor which was an electrical issue. He estimated that it will be about $200+ for the spare part and he got to add in the manpower cost. While waiting, I tried to call AA if they allowed me to do a post purchase of the $195 service but sadly I was rejected. Also, I managed to dig out my insurance papers in the car which indicate the excess for any work was $350 >< As my car was almost due for servicing, I asked them to do the servicing as well (as I don’t want to waste another day to do it) and it was going to be $100-200 and there will even be replacements I need to do after the check and I’m estimating it to be $1k worth of damage.

It is currently 2:39pm and I’ve not received any call from the workshop. Was planning to call them at 3pm but I guess things don’t look too rosy since it’s been so long?

Moving on to the list of my bad news – one I just received like 1 hour ago.

So my very comfortable bed will no longer be mine in 3 weeks time as my landlord suddenly remembered that she had a long term booking made for all her rooms. Technically, according to our agreement signed, it was a one week notice either ways and 3 weeks is pretty generous. Looking back, I gave up a job at another orchard (which had accommodation) for this room; thinking that I could stay here for long term but right now it seems that all my plans are gone (as always).

So right now, I am going to be about $1k poorer, suffering potential income loss of about $100/day for each day I am unable to work. Why can’t I hitch a ride to work? Cause I stay 30 mins away from my workplace and no one else in the right mind is doing what I do. Everyone else stays 10 mins to work.

I tried to look for another job nearer to my house and I had like 30 mins of hope before the agent replied me that the position has been filled.

So right now, I’m still waiting for the next piece of bad news cause it feels like it never ends. At the same time, I’m also telling myself that everything will be alright in the end cause things always work out right? Even if it doesn’t I can always pack up my bags and go home.

(To be updated after I have more updates on my car..)

Okay, back. Just got a call and the estimated damage is $800+; of which my $350 excess for my insurance turns out to be pretty useless as the only thing that is eligible for claim will cost me about $340. Right, so even if I’m blatantly being cheated by the workshop, I can only suck thumb and accept it because I have.. no other choice! Anyway, so it seems like I’m gonna be jobless for two days (minimally) and my pay for next week will be under $400 and.. I don’t know what I should do anymore.

Just. Gonna. Live. Each. Day. Goodbye; Farewell Plans.

I’m gonna live in the moment. Next up > Looking for accommodation.

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