When I started working a FIFO roster, plenty of people had concerns about how this job would impact my life – specifically my relationship with my husband, family and friends, my health and my bank balance.
My bank balance has benefited significantly. N and I have paid off a significant potion of our mortgage and enjoyed two fabulous holidays, Antarctica and New York. I don’t buy scratchy toilet paper and I have my hair cut at a nice salon. Some weeks it already feels like I’m missing out so when I’m home, I buy the good stuff. It makes me appreciate the job that I have.
There is a part of me that refuses to cook boring home cooked meals when I am home as I’m only home for 9 out of 28 sleeps. I’d rather cook something completely different from the food served at work or eat at a restaurant. For a while, N got home delivered meals but now he prefers if I can cook up a few meals and place them in the freezer. I don’t mind this either – it’s thrifty and I can have some assurance that he is eating his vegetables. The man can not exist on baked beans and scrambled eggs alone.
There are a few things you should also keep in mind…
- N and I save money because while I am at work I am not shopping, socializing or using household utilities.
- I’m working 50% more hours than your traditional 9am-5pm worker so it makes sense that I should earn more.
- I’m not spending two hours commuting to and from work each day or spending money on an office appropriate wardrobe.
- I love shopping at thrift stores. I don’t have expensive clothing tastes or a need to drive a fuel-guzzling status car (especially when I am home so little)
- My roster has limited flexibility so if your wedding / birthday or other event falls on a date when I’m at work, N will be attending the event solo.
- Paying bills is fairly easy with online bill and banking with programmed or auto payments
- Christmas and birthday present shopping is a huge, monumental pain-in-the-arse. I have to spend precious time at home trying to find the perfect gift when I could be hanging with you having coffee or I have to find the perfect gift online and pay for shipping. This year, I went online shopping and half my gifts didn’t arrive in time. Boo!
- My contract doesn’t include maternity leave and I don’t get paid extra for working public holidays. If I’m sick, I don’t get to go home nor does anyone bring my tea and toast in bed but we do have a generous family leave policy (see my post from when my Gran died)
There are blokes at work who can’t afford to get a job in the city because their mortgages depend on the FIFO wage to make the monthly payments. Some blokes work FIFO to allow their wives to be stay-at-home mums but that has its own set of challenges for their relationships and health. FIFO jobs are a great way to get ahead financially provided you live within your means.
If you’ve got any other questions about the FIFO financial pros and cons, let me know.
We work 6am to 6pm which leaves a couple of hours in the evening to fill. The project is located 90mins from the nearest town so heading in for a few drinks or a movie isn’t an option.
We have a couple of options. Last year, my preferred option was do my laundry, watch TV in my room and eat chocolate. This lead to a shortage of chocolate mid-rotation and a mild feeling of guilt. To combat this increase in chocolate consumption, I would head down to the basketball or tennis courts or cricket nets for a run around or a group work out. We played a few rounds of no-rules tennis which was fun. We also did some excellent circuit style work outs and sprint sessions. There is a regular group but their workouts were super intense so a group of girls met on an alternate night for a slightly easier version. We don’t have access to a large grassed area but if we can negotiate with another camp nearby, it would be great to play some Ultimate or football.
We also have the wet mess. There is a variety of light beer and low alcohol wine as well as chocolate, chips, cookies, coffee milk and sundry items like toothpaste and tampons. The wet mess also has a media room with big, comfy armchairs, a pool table, darts and ping pong. There is a book swap but I’ll confess, despite being a big reader, I’ve never even looked at it. The wet mess also has a projector screen and sound system that plays everything from State of Origin to one of the various music channels.
I spent a couple of nights at the wet mess this rotation. It’s nice to talk to people that you don’t work with on a daily basis. We had a few beers on Australia Day and a few beers on my last night. There is also a BBQ that you can pre-order for lunch or dinner. They’ve been a popular summer change to eating the usual buffet dinner. There aren’t many organised activities at the wet mess – movies, trivia or other. I’ve been asked to join a committee looking to improve the standard of living at camp with a focus on food, facilities and social activities. Any suggestions on evening activities would be greatly appreciated…
The last rotation, I spent most nights at the gym. I’ve been working out twice a day because I’ve been bored. I’m too tired to do any thing that requires thinking or fine motor skills like reading, sewing or drawing. I’ve been hitting the treadmill and watching my iPad or listening to music. I worked out with a friend from my previous project which was good opportunity to catch up. I’m hoping we can make it a regular thing with a few of us going together. Last week, I clocked up 60kms of combined cycling and running which felt awesome. I thought I’d be exhausted but it’s been incredibly energising.
That’s all the after work activities we’ve got at camp. Nothing incredible to write home about but just enough to keep you from going insane. Let me know if you have any after work ideas to mix it up…
Do you share an office kitchen? We have a large kitchen with two dishwashers between 80 staff. It is funny to watch how people interact with the dirty dishes. I’m not happy about having to stack or empty the dishwasher but it annoys me when people consistently place dirty mugs in a machine that is full of clean dishes that haven’t been put away or when I can’t find a clean fork for my lunch. This happens at least once every two days. I figure some items are washed several times before someone puts them away. I’m also amazed at how inefficiently people stack a dishwasher. There is definitely an optimum stacking design but it seems that the easiest to option is to opens the door and place your item in the closest available spot rather than filling from the back or with other like items. We have signage on the dishwashers to let people know which machine is full of dirty or clean dishes and which machine is running. The single most effective tool that we used was duct tape. We taped the machine closed so that items could not be retrieved mid-cycle and once clean, it would be a clear indicator to empty the machine. Turns out the guerrilla duct tape tactics, while effective, were considered unfriendly….
We also have disposable mugs next to the ceramic mugs. There are people who despite working in the office consistently use disposable cups. I often ask people if they’d really like a disposable cup or if they could use a ceramic mug. We can’t take the disposable mugs away as the crew often come in to make a a cup of coffee too. I’d like to move the disposable mugs to the same cupboard as the ceramic mugs instead of being on the bench. I would hope that people would then make a conscious choice as opposed to just grabbing the closest mug.
I’ve also noticed a distinct difference between the attitudes towards kitchen cleaning between our company and our client who we share the fifties with and also between the sexes. Our clients staff are less likely to stack or empty the dishwasher. They have a staffing level approximately one third of ours so it makes sense that I notice them cleaning the kitchen less. In terms of gender, there are almost ten times as many men as women but women tend to be the ones that clean the kitchen. I’m not sure if it is due to traditional gender roles being played out in a non-gender traditional environment or the inbuilt genetic disposition of women to notice and address mess. I’m not one to sit on the sidelines so if I notice someone leaving an empty cup, I’ll mention it. I’ll also ask someone to put the dishwasher on when they’ve finished with their plates.
Do you share an office kitchen? Do you have any hints or tips for keeping it clean? Do rosters actually work?
Working away from home has challenges and one of the hardest for me has been the lack of physical contact. I’m not talking just about sex but hugs, holding hands, snuggling on the sofa and goodbye kisses. Over the last twelve weeks, I’ve noticed this change in physical contact around the office.
My grandmother passed away just a few days after I had returned to work in November. It was very sudden and I was extremely upset. My colleagues saw my distress and coordinated our admin staff to send me to Melbourne to be with my family. My company got me on a plane to Melbourne so quickly I didn’t have time to pack a sweater. My boss, who wasn’t on site when I left, rather than call me, sent me a text after three days just to see how I was so I could respond in my own time. My team sent me ‘thinking of you’ texts and did not call or text me about anything work-related.
I was able to take two weeks off. I returned to work for four nights and it was tough. My team were respectful and caring, ensuring I had whatever I needed. Twelve weeks later things still aren’t the same. I ache for the person who was such a pivotal part of my life. I’ve noticed that by being so vulnerable, my colleagues shared more of their lives with me and hugging is more common amongst us. Not just hugging when we are sad or angry but hugging to say ‘Thank you’, ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Are you ok?’. The latter is a killer but I’ve been so lucky to have huggers who don’t let go until I do, respected waiting until I’ve sorted my shit out. I’m so grateful for them…
The physical contact doesn’t even come close to the level of contact I’m used to at home with N but it has allowed me to be more human and strengthen the bond within the team. They are top kids and I’m really thankful they were there when I needed them…
I fly a reasonable amount, four flights a month, to a remote area of Australia. I’ve been a Qantas Frequent Flyer member since 2006 and I’ve just earns enough status points for complementary membership to the Qantas Lounge. I was pretty close at the end of last year but my points reset on Dec 31 so I had to begin earning points again. If we hadn’t travelled to New York, I may not have earned enough status points this year.
Qantas differentiate between points earned from associated suppliers, like credit cards and car rental companies, and points earned from taking flights. I have a ridiculous amount of points from our credit card and my work flights. I attempted to upgrade our flight home from New York with our points but we were unsuccessful. In hindsight, we should have opted for the upgrade for the flight to New York and if we were unsuccessful, then attempt to upgrade for the flight home. Rookie mistake. I now have enough points for two return economy flights to Paris so I’m already thinking about making some holiday plans.
My complimentary membership is valid for one year, so I’ll be drinking a considerable number of gin and tonics and utilising the free wifi as much as possible. For the early morning flights, hello espresso coffee and goodbye aeroplane meals. After a few visits to the lounge, I am impressed. The food is good, they let you know when your flight is delayed and when it is boarding and I’ve never had to queue for the toilet and they are way nicer than the ones that everyone else has to use in the main part of the terminal.
None of this helps though when you arrive home to find yourself stuck on a runway waiting for a gate at the terminal after a big storm. Good start to the weekend!
N and I went to New York last month for two weeks… It was lovely to hang out and explore a city together. Rather than bore you with a blow-by-blow of what we did, I’ll just give you samples of the things we enjoyed…
There was a huge variety of food in New York. Everything from gourmet doughnuts to fresh tacos and Asian-inspired hotdogs. Proximity was often the first filter in our selection of food. Most of these foods, but not all, were found using Google, locations determined using Maps and reviews were read on Yelp. These were just a few of my favourites…
Apple Cider Doughnuts
I googled Best Doughnut in New York and CarpeDonut came up as winning a New York Magazine run competition in 2013. I followed their path on Twitter over a few days and finally determined when we were going to be close to their location. It took a few subway stops and a slightly rushed walk to make it on time to the New York Library free tour but they were well worth it. They were light, fresh and very tasty, a lovely balance of sugar and spice. As a bonus they weren’t busy and they use locally sourced, organic ingredients.
These were a serendipitous find at the Brooklyn Flea. There was so much food available that it was hard to pick. They were hot dogs with Asian inspired toppings. These won our lunch pick for their uniqueness. I had the Ito, a Japanese curry with KimChi Apples and N had the Mash, a spicy ketchup and mustard combo with crushed potato chips on top. We topped it off with a drink from Brooklyn Soda Works while gazing over the East River to Manhattan – uber picturesque.
These were a mid afternoon snack when I was craving fresh foods, salad or similar. They we’re located in the Essex market, a local collection of providers close to our Lower East Side apartment. They weren’t too busy and we got to watch the filming of a short food segment. The tacos appeared small but they were super fresh and flavourful. The flavours are not typical of any Mexican food we’ve tried so it was nice to see the different combos they put together. Mine was full of avocado, cheese and habanero sauce while N went for the chipotle’d chicken with salsa fresca.
Beechers Mac and Cheese
I am not a Mac and Cheese person. I don’t eat it, in fact, I’ll go out of my way to avoid it. When I read Beechers Handmade Cheese made the ‘World’s Best Mac and Cheese’ I was skeptical. I thought it would be a good test to see if I really don’t like Mac and Cheese full stop or if it was related to the type cheese that was used in the Mac and Cheese. Turns out, while it might also be the ’World’s Best Mac and Cheese’, it was also the best Mac and Cheese that N and I have ever had. The serving size was good for sharing as a mid-afternoon snack and the cocktail of the day for $5 went down nicely too. The recipe is online but considering it is made with Beecher’s own cheese, I don’t think they’ll be shipping to Australia anytime soon.
This was an awesome find. We had a rule that we wouldn’t eat in each place more than once. We broke the rule here… I saw a board advertising Lemon Meringue oatmeal here and so we stopped for breakfast. It was delicious. It’s an oatmeal bar where they add sweet and savoury condiments to steel cut oats. The Lemon Meringue had lemon curd, crushed graham crackers and marshmallow whip. N had the Peanut Butter and Banana. On the second day, I had Indian Spiced - raisins, sliced almonds, crystallized ginger, cardamom, vanilla & brown sugars, coconut milk while N had the Dulce de Leche Cheesecake - graham crackers, whipped ricotta, dulce de leche drizzle, cinnamon, brown sugar, whipped cream. These were so filling and surprisingly great tasting that I’ve downloaded their menu for some oatmeal inspiration at work.
If you ever go to New York, try and eat local wherever you can. Avoid the fast-food chain stores. Don’t be afraid to follow the locals to a spot where the lines go out the door – it’s a good sign the food it worth it.