Monday, January 21, 2008

Beer and Work – Part One

I was prompted to commit these musings to virtual paper by a comment posted by Frank Marchesani (not his real name) regarding drinking and employment. Let me ‘hit one to the fence’ off the first ball of the innings by saying that there is really no place for drinking on the job in any instance except when your job description includes the words ‘Beer Taster’. I can’t run the risk of being seen to promote irresponsible beer-haviour.

I don’t, however, have any problems with celebrating at the end of a shift with a number (insert your favourite number here) of refreshing frosties. Several of the jobs that I have enjoyed have only been made so by the inclusion of the local breweries’ finest upon the conclusion of the paid festivities. Indeed some jobs were not rewarding enough for me to return for the next instalment were it not for the provision of ‘knock off drinks’. And when you have spent so much time in jobs dispensing drinks to numerous patrons it is only natural that, come the end of the shift, you would want to see what all the fuss was about.

The relationship between Dr Lager and me began at primary school age – Sunday School, would you believe – and as we matured (?? - aged) we managed to land jobs which were run by people whose hiring policy ran along the lines of taking the good staff aside and saying; “So, you got any mates looking for some work?” as a result of which, at one stage the Doc and I had worked at about ten different jobs which we had procured for each other. And, now that I think about it, most involved having a quiet ale at the final bell. The hospitality jobs were obvious for this activity, but others were just about young blokes having fun, working as hard as needs be and then debriefing afterwards with some liquid downtime.

One such outlet for our merry ways was a horse riding holiday camp for kids aged 4 to 14 which we managed to stay employed at for every holiday period for something like eight years. We had attended a Youth Group at the venue previous to this and the then owner was so impressed by our exemplary behaviour and fine upstandingness that he invited a few of us to return in the summer as camp leaders. And, like in the shampoo ad, ‘they told two friends, who told two friends, and so on and so on and so on!’ until the whole crowd of us had done at least one camp. The Doc and I, along with Stacky who now lives across the Nullarbor, were the mainstays of this warped leadership patrol clocking up around forty camps between us.

And, strange as it may seem, we really were good leaders. The activities were all planned and conducted without major accident or incident, the kids were all fed and looked after well and the only littlies who suffered any serious mental adjustment issues were already like that when we found them and we never had anything proven. Plus, we never lost any, despite the pleading and the bribes from some of the parents upon drop off. But how, you ask, did we run such a tight, well oiled and professional holiday educational program? Why, beer, of course.

Now, we never drank on the job, but one or two nights out of 14 we sat back after the last of the stay-ups had finally dropped off to the Land of Nod and cracked some relaxing tins. We sorted out beforehand who was going to take the early shift next day and who would score the sleep-in and then it was on with the merriment. It was on such occasions that we discovered, shared and passed on the traditions of some of the finest drinking games and launched in to the longest and funniest of shit talking episodes ever launched.

Also on the agenda was attempting to break the previous record for crushing cans stood one on top of the other. Once the tower was complete, the attemptee would take his place up on the table and then try to jump as vertically as possible on to the geographical centre of the top can. For the feminists out there (in case one stumbled across this site – what?! It could happen) I used the term ‘his’ in the last sentence, not at the exclusion of the gentler gender, but because, put simply, none of the female leaders was ever stupid or drunk enough to pull off this stunt. They did, however, join in the froth-fuelled mayhem of a quick round of ‘Dent The Can’ (explained in some detail in the Drinking Games post from November 07) which was always good for a chuckle and some First Aid.

As I stated earlier, the kids were always in very safe hands and painting smiley faces on their sleeping bums and making them punch themselves in the head and memorise the safety instructions on the fire extinguisher were all done while we were sober and besides the Statute of Limitations has well and truly expired and we can’t be touched. And the kid we convinced to fill the shallow end of the pool with water taken from the deep end of the same pool was a bit dim to begin with and he had the most fun he had had all week for that three and a half hours. Plus, at least one of our favourite charges is now a respected journalist and social commentator and, if she’s reading this, I COULD just be making all this crap up. Could be.

More on Beer and Work soon.

Prof. Pilsner

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