An Idiot’s Guide to the Post-Uni World

Words by: Luke Hickey

Image credit: nationalcollege.edu

I’ve been an occupant of the Real World for a couple of months now following the completion of my psychology degree and boy, is the Real World the drizzling shits. You’ll be working all the time, for little to no money or recognition, all the while competing with the other 2 million rats in the race to carve out your own little slice of the pie. It unequivocally sucks, especially when you have soft 40-somethings telling you to “enjoy these years, mate. Best time of your life”.

Resist the urge to strangle them with their clip-on ties; they live in a world of Blend 43 and institutionalised-sexual harassment far removed from yours. But the constant uphill battle of bill-paying, unpaid work and making a name for yourself can absolutely wear you down, and it’s easy to see how people go crazy, lose their edge or get married from the constant pressure of the post-graduate world. Which is why I’m here today with a few things I’ve learned so far in finessing the big bad Real World.

Learn adult fighting-words.

In this case, I don’t mean something like “that bloke’s a few sheep short of the top paddock” or some other antiquated Banjo Patterson insult, I mean learning to use 10-dollar words in verbal conflicts. There’ll be plenty of examples in your post-uni life where, someone forgets to pay you for a week’s work, you get billed for something you didn’t purchase, you get on a plane to Melbourne and your luggage arrives in Queensland. Any such occasion where the shit hits the fan, you call to complain and no one takes responsibility for the fuck-up. Obviously, the most common reaction in these situations (if you’re anything like me) is to rage against the call centre, call everyone listening a sell-out and demanding to know why they are in cahoots with the 1%. If you’re Claremont born-and-raised, maybe you threaten to get ‘your attorney’ involved as well. This will get you nowhere, people taking your complaint have heard every immature threat in history. Which is why you have to argue like an old man who will not go away. The biggest phrase to learn is obviously “I would like to speak to the manager/whoever’s in charge”, but some other key ones include:

“What kind of way is this to run a company?”

“I’m not leaving until I’m satisfied”

“Why am I paying for your incompetence?”

“This is completely unacceptable”

Learn to develop your inner guy-who-complains-about-live-music. Fight like a Norman who annoys, pesters, and will not go away. Hell, threaten to take your case to 60 Minutes. More often than not this will result in your desired outcome being achieved.

Verge-side Collections and Retail cast-offs

To be fair, most of you already know this as a great method of picking up reclaimed furniture for free. Some of you may even have experience with breaking down something from a verge collection back into raw material to be used for something else. Speaking of which, do you what is a great source of free, high-quality construction material? Liquor stores and supermarkets. Those big wooden pallets that products arrive on and just sit out the back, waiting to be picked up are perfect for building furniture.

Sometimes the retail chain in question pays a bond with their supplier for the safe return of the pallet, so these ones are usually off-limits (pallets marked ‘CHEP’ are a good example). However, frequently liquor and food chains will get smaller pallets that, once emptied, just take up space in the skip bin. One conversation with the floor manager and an offer to take those unwanted pallets may be all you need for a continuous source of wood. I truly believe woodworking and carpentry is a lost art in the current world of manufactured, cookie-cutter home living; get good with a hammer and nails, ask to use your uncle’s bandsaw and you can build a completely unique bookshelf, bedside table or desk in less than 2 hours. There’s plenty of online tutorials to help you get started. Remember: measure twice, cut once.

Petty theft in the Supermarket duopoly.

I would never encourage stealing or any other crime, regardless of whether the victim could simply write the stolen product off to little expense. Theft is wrong, and apparently against the law too. All I’m doing here is anecdotally reporting on the actions of other miscreants who have stolen successfully from Coles and Woolworths with absolutely no legal repercussions, because it is really, really easy.

For example, you know those self-checkouts, where you use the touch-screen to indicate what kind of mushroom you’re buying? Did you know you can just enter in a cheaper fruit or vegetable on the touch-screen, like field potatoes, before you weigh a bunch of off-the-vine cherry tomatoes and the machine won’t know the difference? And that you’ll be charged $2.75 for almost $10 worth of vegetables? Well, how about that. Now, I’m certainly not advocating that anyone do that, but it is certainly interesting to know how easy it is to exploit those human labor-replacing machines. If you’re feeling a bit Tyler Durden-y, maybe you do this a couple of times a week to lessen the load on the ol’ wallet. That is absolutely on you if you do, though. I certainly don’t want to be responsible for Project Mayhem 2.0, or worse, more people wearing those godawful “the things you own end up owning you” T-shirts.