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Yesterday, I worked at the Melbourne Big Day Out. Leaving the house before 8am and travelling home in the dark, it most definitely lived up to its name. I worked at a token booth, selling little pieces of paper to attendees at $4 a pop that with a proof of age wristband, entitled them to enter the licensed areas of the premises and purchase extremely expensive beverages to fuel their drunken fun. For one token, you got water. Two gave you a beer or a cider, while spirits cost you three. I was stationed at one of the quieter booths, which enabled me to get to know the other girls I was working with. There were five of us, plus a supervisor. What follows is a singleminded, stereotypical overview of each of those girls. Please take this with a grain of salt. I have no doubt there is so much more to these girls than this piece will contain. But for the sake of some simplified, cliched humour, I will introduce you to each of them as follows. (Inspired by the lists of Thought Catalog).

The Diehard Music Fan

The Diehard was your ultimate festival go-er. She knew who was playing when, on what stage, and could identify each sound that made its way into our booth with it’s creator, performer and their last performance. She’d celebrated new years at Falls and spoke about BDOs of years past. She proclaimed to have “strategically scheduled” her breaks around acts she most wanted to see, and stuck to her guns, refusing to take a break at any other time meaning the rest of us had to work ours out around her musical preferences. She might have had #99problemsbutfailing3Gaintone because she knew the set lists off by heart. Her friends consisted of likeminded Diehards and when they came within hearing distance of our booth, she took it upon herself to scream “OMG SCOTT! SCOTTTTTTTTT! OI, SOMEONE GET THAT RANGA OVER THERE!”. After blasting our ears and those of the customer she was serving out, said Ranga would then stumble over to her counter being like “OMG NO WAY! HOW DID YOU GET THIS GIG!? THAT IS SICKKKKK!”. Note the use of the word ‘gig’ to identify her job as a sales person – a telling sign of a true muso bunch.

The Self-Confessed Bitch

The S-CB was all over this job. Used to bossing people around as a personal trainer and dealing with perving males while dressed in a skimpy outfit during her “promo work”, she made more sales than the rest of us put together. While not working for money, she spends her time working out at the gym, lifting heavy weights five days a week, and following a strict diet, packed full of protein, training for body sculpting comps which she enters every few months. She has two trophies already, and breaks up with anyone unable to handle her strict eating/lifting regime. She’d prepared her meals for the day and packed them in a Cool Bag to ensure her minced Roo (yes, kangaRoo) and greens, and her two eggs were kept fresh and clean. In answer to the question you’re all wondering, yes, it was clear she Did Lift. Interestingly though, she made fun of all the young girls with intense spray tans waddling around before our eyes, while it was clear she too was sporting one herself. Ahh, the beauty of irony, or is it coincidence? Whatever it was, we all learnt a thing or two about attitude and that her father had paid $50,000 a year for her to attend an elite private school which was “totally worth it”. Good to know you’re using that knowledge well, girl.

The One With No Personality

There’s always one.

The Blissfully Ignorant Immigrant

When told the event was scheduled to receive an impressive 50,000 attendees, her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped. From the developing world, via Adelaide, she spoke fondly of the round tokens in bars of her hometown, and her time dressed up in an animal suit while she supported herself through her studies in the nation’s City of Churches. The only problem was though, her speaking fondling never really seemed to stop. She spoke constantly, of anything and everything, and poached customers from the lines of those next to her. “Excuse me! Excuse me!”, she wailed, trying to attract the attention of those dazed and distracted in the lines before us. She couldn’t understand how so many people would choose to get drunk, during the day time, with relatively no productivity or beneficial outcome other than pure drunkeness. I must admit, part of me struggles with this too. But as it was blatantly obvious to all, it was Straya Day, and what true Aussie doesn’t love a beer or two to celebrate their country’s pride? We told her it’s tradition. “Ohh, is it? That’s strange, isn’t it?” Well whether it is or it isn’t, she sure got the message by the end of the night.

The Mum

All crude humour aside, our supervisor was lovely. She truly helped us through stubborn customers, balancing our books and straightening out any potential harassment issues. She brought us together and laughed at our jokes. We found you could gage one’s usual level of drinking by how they responded to a) the prices of the tokens (and thus, drinks) and b) how many they purchased. We giggled at one man who forked out $200 off the bat, without thought, which would get him 25 beers, and noted others who came for just three or four tokens, managing their drinking wisely and responsibly. We learned about her 21 month old daughter, and about her family and lifestyle. We supported her when her one vice ([soy] coffee) was a let down, cold and icky, and she kept us going through sales peaks and lulls.

The day was a success even if Melbourne’s weather wasn’t. I just hope there aren’t hundreds of kids too sick to go back to school this week because they dressed (completely inappropriately) in short shorts and a singlet, for 40 degrees when I’m sure it barely made it to 20. But I guess that’s a sneaky way out of a new school year, so maybe today’s youth are smarter than we all thought?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Working hard, or hardly working?

Imagine how different the world would be if we were confined to the boundaries of our hometown or city. If we could visit other states and countries but had no option to relocate permanently or temporarily, despite feeling more comfortable in the alternate environment. What if the path you chose as a 17 or 18 year old, confined you to one industry or one vocation for life? There was no option to retrain, go back to university, no excuse or remedy for a ‘mid-life crisis’, no way to shift between sectors or orientations. What if the materials of your childhood home defined you in some way or other, the hospital you were born in restricted your options in life, or your first word was utilised as a tool for dividing the population in groups that would somehow shape the rest of their lives. Each factor above contributes to the way we live, how we shape our relationships, how we build our sense of self, how we interact with others and respond to our feelings. Certain people are able to cope with change better than others. Some people are born into wealth while others struggle just to get by. Some people are brought up vegetarian, others are brought up as surf-lifesavers. We can be city people or country people. We might come from a small family, be born to a single mum, or have a dozen brothers and sisters to play with in a bustling household. I might play netball while you choose hockey as your preferred sport. I like Modern Family, you like Neighbours. I eat spearmint Extra, you chew on peppermint. My mum taught me to tie my laces with one loop but your dad ties his with two.

In life, there are many circumstances we can’t control. You might be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time – either way, you could not foreshadow the events that day, or that hour presented you with. Other factors are a mixture of preference, influence and understanding – I say tomAto, you say toma(R)to. I like yellow and you like green. I like JT while you prefer Jay Z. No one is right or wrong, these things are a matter of choice, generally with reasoning behind it even if only that you see one more desirable than the other, or your were brought up one way rather than another.

Now if an employment agency were recruiting for a bunch of people to ‘sell’ the colour yellow as The Face of Summer, naturally they’d be looking for people who saw yellow as a happy colour, a motivating colour, maybe those who saw yellow as the colour of late nights on the beach and days running through a field of blooming sunflowers (or whatever). To employ someone who associated yellow with sickness and disease would be rather a strange choice. They are unlikely to get the same return on investment as their aforementioned, summer-loving counterpart. In the same respect, choosing someone who favoured green, purple or navy blue may not be a wise move, as their personal preference for another colour might present an obstacle in them achieving their targets, and in turn, yours, as the employer. But luckily for you, it would be relatively safe to assume that those who had gone through the application process, put in the hard yards to submit their resume, cover letter and maybe even attend an interview, are not the people who envision summer in shades of green, purple or navy blue. People apply for positions of responsibility whether paid, voluntary or for work (or life) experience based on their skill set, their passions and their curiosities. As a communications student, I am not going to apply for an engineering internship, nor would an engineering student apply for work at a public relations firm. Sure, in the future our interests and abilities may change as we steer ourselves in a different direction. And we are lucky to for the most part, have the chance and receive the respect to do just that.

What has promoted my thoughts on these issues today, is the current debate over a new rights bill that allows religious organisations and companies owned by religious groups to discriminate against potential employees that in some way, challenge their religious foundations or orientation. This includes public services such as hospitals and educational institutions. The Catholic Church are one of the largest employers in the country. International cereals company Sanitarium is owned and operated by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. As outlined in their Guidelines, Sanitarium “recognise[s] the 7th day as a day of rest therefore we do not support events requesting commercial or promotional assistance during the hours of Friday sunset to Saturday sunset (the Sabbath).” Therefore, a business with an estimated turnover of $300 million a year and potential employment opportunities for hundreds of Australians, under this Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill, will have the opportunity and the right, to deny those who seek to work commercially or on promotional jobs for the company on the Sabbath, as well as those who more generally are not in favour of such work, yet are neither opposed to it either.

Supposedly, the Bill will allow religious groups to discriminate against those if “is necessary to avoid injury to the religious sensitivities of adherents of that religion”.

While many people are subject to discrimination, the focus of this campaign lies predominately with discrimination against same-sex attracted individuals. Two of my closest friends are same-sex attracted. One male, one female. Some of my family’s closest friends (practically extended family themselves), are also same-sex attracted. The Oxford Dictionary defines discrimination as “the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex“. It is thereby, by definition, unjust to vet people based on their sexual orientation. Furthermore, allowing religious organisations to do just so gives them rights that extend beyond non-religious organisations, so far in fact, that if a secular organisation were to do so, it would be illegal under Australian law.

This is a Labor government. How can a party who by their own values say they strive to give “every Australian opportunities through education and training, ensuring fairness at work…”, continue to support a bill that will ensure just the opposite? And to further the contradictory action, the Minister looking after the motion through the Senate is Finance Minister Penny Wong – a committed Christian and a lesbian. She is quoted to have said that Labor are ”seeking to balance the existing law and the practice of religious exemptions with the principle of non-discrimination”.

And sure, I sympathise with the dichotomy the government are presented with. Well, at least to some extent. I do not want to discriminate against those of any religion. I don’t want to undermine their beliefs nor am I saying the circumstances can be easily navigated and resolved. I am, however, in favour of equality. I would never want to know someone, or even hear of someone, who has been denied their right to work for an organisation purely based on their sexuality. I never want one of my friends to find they have lost an important employment opportunity to someone with a lesser skill set, relatively no experience and sketchy references, just because they are gay.

Unlike the many determinants in our lives over which we have control, our sexual preferences and thus our personal identity, are not simply matters of one or the other. These desires are innate, they are unlearned. Unfortunately, many people with mental illness or chronic disease suffer these same or similar prejudices, and the stigma associated with conditions, preferences or individual (dis)abilities must be reduced if we are to exist as a society of equals, unhindered by possible rejection or unfair dismissal.

In November 2012, Australian marriage equality advocates welcomed a new draft national anti-discrimination law that aimed to protect gay Australians from unfair treatment in employment and services. Yet this is exactly what we are being faced with a mere two months later. Lobby group GetUp!, the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Greens have also all criticised the current Bill for not offering proper protections against discrimination for LGBTI people. Others who may face discrimination include pregnant women, women who are thought to “potentially” be pregnant, and couples living in a de facto relationship.

Amidst all this darkness though, there is some light. Social welfare charity, Anglicare, introduced a formal policy welcoming and supporting inclusion and diversity nearly a decade ago. South Australian branch chief executive, the Reverend Peter Sandeman is quoted to have said ”Jesus didn’t discriminate in who he associated with and helped and neither should we”. Another light shines from the south, where the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act penalises church-based schools and welfare agencies if they are found to discriminate against LGBTI employees, students or clients.

Now is not the time for Prime Minister Julia Gillard to be losing supporters. The year’s first Newspoll suggests the Coalition has retained the lead on a two-party-preferred basis, 51 to 49 per cent. But a more conservative government is even less likely to fight discrimination cases. So what can you do?

Start by signing these two petitions:

GetUp!’s WE ARE ALL E=UAL campaign, and

Community Run’s WHAT’S GOD GOT TO DO WITH IT? REMOVE RELIGIONS’ RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE

The Bill itself can be viewed here. Public submissions can be seen here.

And just consider what it would be like if you couldn’t get a job because you were brought up in a brick house, when all a company was considering were those who’d spent more time in a weatherboard. That determining factor is or was, out of your control. You didn’t choose the house you lived in as a child. But it became part of who you are. That house shaped you and will forever be in your heart. So don’t discriminate, because you’re hitting out against someone else’s home every single time.

Today I was in the city with friends and money arose as a topic of conversation. How to make money, how much money things are worth, and what we paid for certain acquisitions. One friend had paid $70 for the t-shirt she was wearing. The other was wearing a shirt that he’d cut to suit his own style, supposedly worth $100 at the time of purchase. Food was bought, myki cards were topped up with money for necessary travel into and out of the city, and we were all (of course) dressed and groomed with clothes and styling products/makeup/at-least-shampoo that had cost someone some dosh somewhere along the line, too.

We talked about haircuts. How much to get your hair dyed at a salon? How much to do it yourself? I used to have bright pink, dip-dyed ends on my long (read: extra spending) hair. I don’t know how much it cost because my mum paid for it, but I know that it was a lot. I also know that I had to pay the same stylist to un-dye it when I changed schools to meet the school’s uniform policy. I’ve also dyed my hair on many occasions at home, or with a friend, for a much smaller price. A packed of hair dye might cost anywhere between $10 and $35, depending on the brand. My friend’s hair was dyed currently, and she’d saved herself some money by cutting it and dyeing it herself. Boys, on the other hand, we were informed, needed their hair cut every four weeks, my other friend told us. So while guys haircuts are usually much cheaper, the cost adds up when you take into account how frequent their trips to the hairdresser are. Or how shitty the hair dye you buy from the supermarket is and need to re-dye it after its faded a week after you last forked out $15.

While we were out, one friend wanted to buy a ring, but it was $20 she didn’t have right now. The other told me his iPhone earphones were ‘only $35’. And that’s when it hit me. On January 1st, the Labor government cut the Newstart Allowance significantly, to an equivalent of just $35 a day. The majority of Newstart recipients are single parents (mostly mothers), meaning that not only does that $35 have to sustain one person for a day, it is likely to need to be stretched to support two, or more persons, children with needs, wants and wishes a parent only dreams to fulfil.

When you think of $35 it might not sound that bad right off the bat. But as soon as you start to consider some of the things mentioned above, it disappears without a trace. Hell, that’s without life’s necessities of health care, educational expenses (such as tutoring), extra curricular activities, hobbies, a gym membership to keep you in decent shape, food, rent and other living costs. How one, let alone multiple people are meant to survive on just $35 a day baffles me completely.

Families Minister Jenny Macklin suggested that she could do it. Acting Greens Leader Adam Bandt will actually go on the dole for a week and see how he fairs with such a measly amount. But the experiment, while interesting, will be rather inconclusive because everyone, including Mr Bandt, knows that once his seven days are up, he’ll be going back to conditions that enable him to work, eat, sleep and thrive as a politician and as an Australian not subject to these conditions.

I doubt anyone would choose to live consistently on $35. The unemployment crisis in Australian is again, set to peak, and as a person without a job, the prospects for gaining one are looking slim. Of course, I am lucky to be fully supported by family, but I cannot imagine this news being sunny for anyone. Especially those receiving the Newstart Allowance who are being told it is just a safety net and are highly encouraged to go back to work. What if there is no work to go back to?

So tonight when you are spending money on dinner, drinks, a movie or even on petrol, spare a thought for those that aren’t so fortunate to own a car, to go out to eat, or who can only afford fast food. Without money for formal or organised exercise, or the motivation to better yourself provided by such environments, many will find themselves travelling down a path of chronic disease and ill health… but that’s another story. And anyway, the government and tax payers have got their back, right? Yeah, right.

Youth unemployment, it’s an issue, right? In fact, unemployment is an issue across the board. Ever since the crash of the Global Financial Crisis, jobs have been harder to find, harder to obtain, and even harder to keep. The government has warned us that less and less young people are making something of their lives after leaving school, with fewer youth engaging in work or study of their own accord.

We should be able to live our lives the way we want. We shouldn’t be under pressure to conform to a society with certain ideals or an ideology that does not fit who we are finding ourselves to be. For some, it takes time. Travel, experience, life. Sure, I’ve gone from high school to university but many friends have taken gap years, started working, or have found themselves occupied with other pursuits. There are healthy ways to spend time and there are unhealthy ways. But giving someone a break after 13 years of education shouldn’t be taboo.

However, for those of us who have decided to balance life, study and work, we should think this trio of events is attainable and likely to be possible. The thing is, employment is hard to come by and I, for one, have been trying to gain employment over the past months without much success.

What has prompted this post though, is a terrible experience I’ve just had. Earlier this evening, I rocked up for a group interview with lingerie store, Bras ‘n Things. I arrived early, as I would for any job interview. I parked my car and found the location. But as the store came into view, I noticed a mass of people – girls – standing around the surrounding stores. I didn’t know what had happened. Had there been an accident? Was one of the nearby stores having a one off sale? Were there celebrities in sight? What the hell was going on?

It was only once I was amongst the crowd that I saw all the girls were holding A4 pieces of paper. And at the head of the piece of paper read ‘Job Application’.

Fuck.

Are you kidding me? There were about 200 girls there. Now, I’m bad at estimations but this is no exaggeration. Girls, probably aged 16-30 (okay, young women), were lined up, on the street, in the heat, and ‘dressed to impress’, as we were told to do. Girls in heels, skirts, some in pants, some in black stockings and jackets, adorned with jewellery, hair in bows and ribbons. It was almost an unbelievable sight. And the thing is, they wanted to interview us. Together. ALL AT ONCE.

It was ridiculous. The scene was like sardines in shades of pink, blue and black, of all shapes and sizes, yet racing for the one prize. But none of the girls are to blame. No one knew this is what we were to expect. I thought I might have been going to an interview with maybe 50 other attendees. Even 50 girls vying for scant positions is a lot. But what is one’s chances in a sea of hundreds?

The stores folding doors were opened and we crammed inside. Packed to the brim, one girl fainted within minutes. It was hot, it was steamy. The smell of fake tan spread instantly. Girls shook their application forms for air as airhead staff began their recruitment speech. ‘Come on, take a lollipop. I went out and bought these especially for you! Come on, your allowed!’ And then, ‘I wish I could give you water too!’ Yeah, I’ll bet you did. It was practically an Occupation Health and Safety hazard just being in that space.

After finding out if anyone knew anything about the company, we were told the ‘perks’ of working for the brand. The ‘possibilities’ and ‘promotions’ that awaited us as (potential) successful applicants. With 209 stores across Australia and New Zealand and a new Kardashian range, who could think of a better place to work?

An hour later, I could think of a better place to work. Anywhere.

They split us up into north, south, east and west as girls made their way to their assigned destinations, all within this tiny store. In the group deemed ‘East’, we started going around saying our names, the position we were applying for, the store(s) we were applying for, and why we wanted to work at Bras ‘n Things. I think six girls were lucky enough to have this opportunity. After that, it was decided there were too many of us (no shit) and we were to make small groups and introduce ourselves to each other. We wasted about 15 minutes doing this and then were given an ensemble to ‘sell’ to one of the staff members. Ten minutes later, a staff member came around. I literally got to say about two sentences. I think I said something about the breathing material, the quality of the product with good stitching and something else that’s already slipped my mind. She didn’t even get my name down. She asked my name – ‘sweetie’ – and when I told her, she just looked at me blankly. I’m sorry, but if you didn’t hear me or didn’t understand, I’d expect you to ask me to repeat it, not just stare at me. So I repeated it without request. But I’m pretty sure that even then, she didn’t even take the time to write it down. Maybe Esther is too hard to spell or something. I get that a lot.

But wow, talk about a lack of respect. I’ve taken the time to come to you stupid group interview which is basically a meat market, and you can’t even give me the time of day to get my name. It’s totally rude and ultimately, disgusting.

Not long after, I, and dozens of others, were shown the door. Sure, I’d like to have progressed to the next ‘stage’ but as stage one consisted of me saying barely 20 words and nothing more, and after the poor treatment I’d received, I was almost glad to be on my way.

And as I said, I was one of many. I’m not taking this as a personal attack but I think we as young people, have a right to receiving greater respect than I was shown tonight. I know you had literally hundreds of other girls there who by your accounts, were in someway more suited to the position (after hardly saying a thing), but that doesn’t give you the right to dismiss others in such a horrible manner.

And to be honest, I think you’ll have lost some customers, Bras ‘n Things. In our little groups we discussed how far we’d come for the interview. Personally, I hadn’t had to travel too far, but others had travelled for a good hour or more to make it, only to be out of there without having the chance to show their personality, their skills or even their name.

And I don’t care if you have the new Kardashian range, I happen to dislike the Kardashians and even if I did like them, their underwear can get stuffed. The distance between the Kardashian girls and the piece of underwear you are buying is so great you may as well send them fan-mail and you’d get closer to the real thing.

So in turn, I’ve lost my respect for the brand, Bras ‘n Things, and for mass recruitment in general. I know not all company’s recruit in this way, and I’m aware of the practicalities involved in recruiting for such big names. But what I experienced tonight should not happen under any circumstances.

No wonder so many youths are unemployed.

In January this year, she up and moved across the country. She packed her clothes, her dancing shoes, shipped her car and transferred her position at a nation-wide store to another state. She’d worked hard and travelled to the United States to gain experience. She’d auditioned for a panel of industry experts who analysed her singing, heard her monologue and watched her dance in the call backs. And she impressed them.

With so much talent, she gained a place in not one but two performing arts colleges. The decision was made and in a matter of weeks she’d relocated. A tiny bunch of first years with the hopes and dreams of the Fame school in tow, twenty lucky and talented performers were given their chance to shine. They’d come up on top of hundreds of applicants and their time was now. And it is now.

She’s been back and forth between states numerous times throughout the year, but as of the weekend, she’ s back for good. Well, for the summer. And we caught up today in the heart of Windsor, among slow walkers, people sipping coffee, thrift shops and free ice cream at the opening of the new Ben and Jerry’s store.

It’s crazy how different two people’s experiences of their first year of university can be. Her course is full on. Full time. Five days a week of learning, stretching, rehearsing, training, dancing, singing, keyboard playing, costumes, blocking, acting, performing, bonding. The small intake each year gives students the chance to become a family, as well as befriending and housemating second and third years of their course. The course has traditions. The theatre is full of traditions. They have houses allocated to the school that have been passed down through the generations of graduates. The second years fundraise for the third years and perform for the first years. They train together, they party together. They live in each others back pockets and secrets are scarce. But it sounds incredible. Arts school. Performing arts college. It’s traditionally American but uniquely Australian at the same time.

The graduating Class of 2014 come from all corners of the country. From Cairns to Adelaide, Mooloolaba to Sydney, Perth and of course, Melbourne. They’re of different ages, some straight out of high school, some in their twenties, and a mix of boys and girls. They may be as different as they come, but share a united vision of soloing in a Broadway show, name in lights and closing to a standing ovation. To an outsider, it may seem like a long shot, but these kids have got what it takes.

We visited the auditions for next years intake which were going on down the road. In so many situations you hear of the older group making fun of, teasing, belittling or scoffing at the younger group. But as my friend told me, her class are so excited to have ‘new first years’. It is such a community and the vibe is invigorating.

There’s something about the performing arts that’s like a disease. You catch it and then you’re plagued with it for life. Amidst such tough competition, everyone is there to support each other. There is something in performers that runs through their blood, constantly pumping through their veins and it makes them come alive. They have a dream and they’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen. They work when they’re sick, they rehearse insane hours, they push on when their feet are sore and life is throwing everything at them. But I guarantee, when they perform, you are witnessing their heart and sole on the line, every single time. They show their vulnerabilities and it takes guts to expose yourself to an audience like they do. Once song may have hours and hours of work behind its facade. And making it seem easy and effortless is only part of the task.

But don’t be misled. Performers have skills that trick you, and lead you into a world outside your own. You’re suddenly inside their world, the world of the stage and in that world, anything is possible. It’s a wonderful place to be in and it’s there for the taking.

So go and see a show. Book tickets to a musical, a play, a showcase. And after the curtains have closed and you’re processing what you’ve seen, take a minute to consider the hard work that’s gone into that performance. It’s a mindfuck. And then leave with the confidence that by seeing that show, you are helping to sustain an industry and the life of individuals who live for the stage and the thrill of performing. And then go and book tickets to another – ’cause you’ve been tickled by strains of that blessed disease. The performing disease. All the world’s a stage, you just have to open your eyes.

Day Four of the Carnival.

Official Flower: Red Rose

Today had ‘a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere’ drawing families, school friends and all the regulars to the track for the final day of the Spring Racing Carnival. As I mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t rostered on to work today but received a call yesterday afternoon asking to report to Tote Control this morning to wait to be allotted a placement. We’d been asked to keep all four days free and I was more than happy to finish up the festivities with the crowds.

Completely coincidentally, I ended up at the very say tote of the very same station I’d been at on Thursday, so I was familiar with the supervisors and many of the other workers. On the train in I saw many young girls and boys dressed up in suits and floral dresses, the girls discussing how they were wearing makeup and the specifics of what their mothers had applied to their faces.

Special stalls and areas set up for Family Day included a Boost Juice truck, a large fairy floss store ready to ruin teeth for decades to come, face painting and special kids areas. We’re not allowed to sell bets to kids under 18, nor to adults who are obviously betting on behalf of someone underage but I so no one refused when fronting up with the cash. They’re pretty clearly underage when two young people say ‘I’ve never done this before so you’ll have to bare with me’ and then are profusely thankful for you helping them along the way. I saw no 18+ wrist band but they were served regardless. Same goes for the six, seven and eight year olds who were held up to the counter to place ‘their’ bets with one girl I’d say as young as four even taking the tickets and putting them into her own little purse. What’s The Law?

I saw many young couples with their arms around each other, the girls looking at least two years older than their boyfriends in their heels, splashed faces and tightly pinned hair. All the dresses today were fresh and appealing. I really saw such a mix of colours, lengths, styles and fits, but less peplum than the previous days. The kids and teens sent me back to 2008 when I attended Stakes Day with friends. To be honest, our favourite part was getting ready for the day, but I hope all that attended today were thankful for the sun and celebratory spirit.

There were prams that’d been absent all other days as families flocked to the track for their big day out. There was a stronger police presence than I’d seen before, too. Safety first. Two things I’ve been meaning to mention are as follows. Number one: in no circumstance should stockings be worn to the races. They look ridiculous. The races are a spring festival, so no matter what Melbourne throws at you, you must adhere to the rules of Spring fashion. No fishnets, no patterns and certainly, no black stockings. The same goes for leggings and tights. Just no. Secondly, it’s been really lovely to hear a range of accents around the racecourse. I’ve spoken to many Pommes, heard Italian accents, Americans, New Zealanders and South Africans.

One couple I served multiple times today were from Wellington. They were moderately intoxicated but were fun and having a lovely time. They kept coming back to me, their ‘lucky charm’ to place their bets, and learned my name to personalise things a little. They offered to bring me back fries to eat because I’d been such good luck for them, which I politely declined. But they won in every race they bet on, so you can’t ask for much for than that. I also chatted to a British soccer player who said he was inebriated and here on holidays, who asked me out for drinks. Again, a polite decline was satisfactory but he was fun to have a laugh with for a minute or two.

It’s funny because after four days at Flemington, I saw precisely zero horses. That’s a measure of how big the area is. On the train home, I listened to a conversation of a group of friends, probably in their 20s. One guy was legitimately confused when his friends corrected him saying Indonesian food was from India. ‘Thai food is from Thailand, Indonesian food is from India! A 50 cent cone is 50 cents!’ He had no conception of Indonesia as a separate country, let alone a country in its own right at all. It’s a worry, is it not?

After I changed trains I sat across from two gentleman who I’d say were in their 60s. For one, it was his first train trip in 20 years. He still remembered nearly all the stations, in order, as I confirmed his guess upon request. He also offered me a job at his cafe in a nearby suburb which was kind.

Emirates Stakes was a good day. Girls grew up, families had fun, babies cried and money was won. A more than adequate end to a wonderful Spring Racing Carnival. Congrats Melbourne, you’ve done a nation proud.

Day Two of the Carnival.

Official Flower: Yellow Rose

The race that stops a nation. Worth $6.2 million “it is hard to convey the sheer scale of Emirates Melbourne Cup Day to someone who has not witnessed it before”. The event guide professes you can “experience the pulse of Australia in just one day”. If that doesn’t sell it to you, I don’t know what will.

But on a lighter note, the long day, struck by typical Melbourne weather turned punters inside out. The winner of Race 7 (The $175, 000 Cup) was Green Moon, backed by few, with favourites Americain and Fiorente failing stick their noses out far enough. I was again, inside the Phar Lap marque, shaded from the stormy weather but inside a tent infused with fishy mains, beer breath and aftershave. I’d say today’s punters were less experienced than those on Derby Day but the crowd of 106, 000 was larger than Saturday’s who came for a more traditional atmosphere.

Within the first 15-20 minutes of my shift, I was asked about my age, twice. First, by a lady working in the marque who said someone on Saturday had just suspected I was the daughter of an employee, hence why I was wearing a TAB shirt. She told me what I am always told, that it is good to look young – when you’re older. But I am not older, and thus it is frustrating and becoming repetitive beyond belief. One of the day’s first punters asked me how old I was, saying I looked like I should’ve been at school. “You look about 15!” I know woman, I know. The third was an Italian man with very little English, who specifically asked a relative to ask me my age. He couldn’t believe the truth.

But regardless, he and his family kept coming to my tote to place their bets. As did quite a few other punters. I became peoples’ lucky operator once more, and I was glad to be of service. One lovely gentleman even slipped me a cheeky $20 tip from his winnings at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, I lost $29.90 – more money to come out of my pay. I seriously don’t know how it happened. Well, literally I do, but I was so careful! It’s hard to believe I could’ve paid two people the wrong dividends, but c’est la vie.

In terms of fashion, Cup Day “has gained a reputation for fashion with a penchant for drama. It is the day to make your strongest fashion statement with an exotic or outrageous ensemble.”

Well… Let’s just say I think Derby Day brought with it significantly more style and class. In my opinion, block colours worked best. Tans, zesty colours and subtle tints pleased the eye, with swirly patterns and exhaustive prints seeming a little out of touch. Peplum was in, and tailored pieces stood out as winners. There was too much flow and not enough certainty in the cut of many dresses. Well-fitting dresses paired with minimal extras looked perfect. As much sense as it may make in theory, wearing a dress in one colour and matching accessories, all in another colour seemed a bit by-the-book. Fascinators and hats were generally well sculptured, and unlike the dresses, those with a bit more flair and creativity gained my attention for positive reasons. I only saw one woman that looked suited for the races in a pair of black pants while other wearers of tops and pants looked much too casual for such an affair. I noticed much more of what I would deem bad fashion today than I did on Saturday, particularly in the form of oversized floral prints in whites and pinks which were all too childish for a day at the races.

One other thing; aesthetics say it is better to freeze than don a jacket as the goings get cool and tough. Nearly every woman I saw wearing a jacket looked mismatched. So unless you’ve thought long and hard about what to put over your shoulders ladies, leave the extra baggage at home. It’ll lighten your load a little.

The train home wasn’t as packed as I think many of the general public left after the Big Race. After 10 races, hundreds of bets and a couple of short tea breaks, I was ready to head home.

The day definitely had a different feel to Derby Day. I’d say it was directed more at the general public than traditional race goers but the crowd certainly knew how to cheer and chant for their winning horses. The day was a celebration of fashion, friends, funds and festivities of all kinds. No doubt, one for the books.