Christchurch provided to be a place that I’ve drastically underestimated. Upon arriving, I immediately thought, “oh shit, this place is bleak,” and, “this place has nothing going for it”; but talking with locals and digging into Christchurch’s history, I’ve grown to appreciate what this city has and will have to offer. It was here where I’ve managed to work various jobs in construction, landscaping, and even glass manufacturing (the most interesting job I’ve had so far). A friend and I both scored a steady job at Metro Performance Glass, New Zealand’s largest producer of windows for the South Island. The entire time I’ve been working here I realized I’ve attempted to passively work one job while gaining experience for myself, as if my departure from a job wouldn’t affect my coworkers, but as soon as I began working at Metro, that passivity soon began to turn on me.
My role at the factory was a general hand labourer. I was placed in one of the most busiest and physically demanding departments in the factory with my supervisor, whom I worked beside. In the production process, when glass is cut from the stock sheet and beveled, it was one of my responsibilities to unload numerous batches of glass, some of which had over 200 pieces with varying thicknesses and heights, that were to be “toughened” or tempered at the furnace. Weeks into the job, I still had in mind that I’ll be leaving the job soon anyway, so what would the point in befriending my coworkers? Alienating myself from the rest of my coworkers was the worst decision to make. Though my title limited my range of skilled work, my work ethic had drastically expanded my responsibilities. A month into the job, I was managing machine malfunctions and organizing sheets of glass that were to be loaded into the buffering machine, all the while working alongside my supervisor (he’ll be known as, “super” from here on), the one man team became two. Throughout the duration of my employment, I began to get to know and bond with my coworkers, I actually liked working along side them! This is where my internal struggle began. What was I to do, make friends with these guys, work as hard as I can for my coworkers, and then bail on them whenever it was convenient for me, or do I remain here and work as a “general hand?” I struggled with these thoughts, but in the end I ended up choosing the former over a permanent job offer. In a way, I could feel the disappointment from my super because as much as he denied that it wouldn’t matter to him if In left, him having another skilled worker managing our department made it easier on both of us, the disappointment is what really hit close to home. I realize that I’m coming of age where I’d like to find a career that I actually enjoy, I’m searching for my vocation and it wasn’t found at the factory, I needed to push on. The guilt of leaving my coworkers behind is a fucking pain to manage, but if anything, its presence means that I did do my best at what I was assigned to do, and that in itself is gratifying.
It’s the middle of August, my visa expires in October, and I still have much of the south to explore. Majority of July and August have been two intensely introspective months, rife with personal, relational, and career development, all of which I can’t be without. These past two months have placed a strain on my relationships with not only myself, but with everyone around me and the ones back home. In desperation to decompress and mull over everything, I needed to escape from Christchurch for a weekend. I had recently taken a trip to Methven to visit some friends whom I made back in Wanaka during the summer. While there, my friend Kem and his coworker Tom (hodor), both work at the Mt. Hutt ski field, brought up the idea to hike the entirety of the Te Araroa Trail. Without any doubt in my mind, my intuition was saying, YES, YES, YES!!! and I heeded its beckoning.
So now that my plans have shifted slightly away from Australia, I need to restructure and take care of business so that I may stay in New Zealand on a visitor visa this time around. We are planning on beginning the trail in November.