Friday 23rd March (Day 22)
Today was my second day working as a street fundraiser. I was working in the city today a convenient 10 minute walk from my house. We started off working on a street corner but after an hour very few people walked by, which to be honest suited me fine.
A group of homeless people where congregating near where are bags where. I saw them coming one by one each holding a bottle shaped paper bag in their hands. I saw one guy holding at least 4 bottle shaped paper bags, I think the other homeless people actually sent him out to get more booze. One of the homeless guys was particularly vocal; he is a largish black guy with a weathered face. I had seen him before around Kings Cross. He likes to sit on benches and sing really loudly, well when I say sing I mean shout. I have dubbed him “the Kings Cross mascot”.
We only spent an hour or two at this location before deciding to move further into the city. We moved to Elizabeth Street which is one of the main roads that runs through downtown Sydney. Elizabeth Street also runs adjacent to Hyde Park the large park that is just south east of the city. Hyde Park is a lush green retreat from the chaos of the city and working next to Hyde Park was awesome. I was working on the pedestrian footway of Elizabeth Street but it felt more like I was working in the park. The footway was bathed in shade by the trees in the park. There was also a refreshing breeze blowing across the park that turned this particularly hot day into a pleasant one. We spent all morning here and I was really enjoying my job. Everyone seemed more relaxed here and I was having some great conversations with people. My confidence in this job was growing quickly and for once I didn’t feel awkward or out of place.
However there was an issue with where we were, there weren’t actually that many people walking past us. We were hoping things would pick up at lunch but when they didn’t Kate said that we were moving across the street.
I was feeling confident but across the street that quickly changed. On this side of the road the atmosphere was a stark contrast to the relaxed and chilled atmosphere of the other side of the road. This side of the road had no cover from the sun and was baking hot. The gentle breeze blowing across the park didn’t reach this side of the road either. Overall this side of the road was scorching hot and chaotic.
We moved across because it was busier but this was just ridiculous. There were people flying past us left right and centre, people crossing the road, people coming from the road, people going into buildings, people coming out of buildings, people coming out of taxis. They weren’t like the people from across the road either; everybody here was in a hurry. I even had to jump out of the way of one man who was literally going to walk straight into me. It wasn’t like I jumped out at him; he just decided that he could only walk in a perfectly straight line. This afternoon was unpleasant to say the least; it was hot and stressful. Even cool headed Kate my team leader was showing the strain.
After a stressful afternoon we had to drop by the office of the charity we where representing to pick up some documents for next week. After that we headed to the pub. Every Friday the fundraisers gather at a pub near where the head office is and consume large quantities of alcohol and talk about fundraiser.
Since training day I had been promised a free beer after my first week and I had never looked more forward to a beer in my life. I think at some parts of the afternoon it was the only thing keeping me going. At the pub I got a voucher off one of the fundraiser and quickly converted it into beer. I saw the guy who did Wednesday’s training day and I asked him how the others from the training day where doing. It turned out that everyone else had quit and I was the only one left.
Ha, I was the sole survivor. The only one who made it this far. In some ways this made me feel good. But I was also looking forward to meeting up with them in the pub and talking about our first week, but none of them where here so that made me a bit sad. I got talking to a few veteran fundraisers and asked them for advice. Most of them said the same sort of thing, that the first few weeks are the hardest and after that something just clicks and you get good at it. I couldn’t wait until this job got easier.
I didn’t stay at the pub very long because the 2 days of fundraising and the bad night’s sleep meant I was physically exhausted. I needed to go home and rest and have a sit-down discussion with myself about street fundraising and whether it is for me or not.
Btw, I will be adding some photos to this post soon, I am just having some camera related issues, the issues being I forgot to bring my camera on this day.