It’s here – that day that so many Australian freelancers dread. Melbourne Cup Day. That one day of the year when my employed friends look forward to a half day of work followed by a copious amount of canapés and bubbly, and for us? Nothing. No change.
For those unfamiliar with the Aussie ways, the Melbourne Cup is the country’s biggest horse race. It’s the equivalent of the Derby, or the Grand National. Almost every Australian business will be effectively closed from lunch time, so the staff can get silly, have a few drinks, and prepare themselves for the big race at 3pm. Bets would have been placed earlier in the day, and after the ponies have done their thing, the drinking will continue long past the point where it’s a good idea. Heads will then be very sore at work tomorrow.
At least in Victoria people get the day off. Here in New South Wales there is no holiday. Of course, for Victorian freelancers it’s a theoretical day off. I’m sure my colleagues there are doing what I would be doing if it was a public holiday here – sleeping in, certainly, but then working on anything where a deadline or a client expectation needed to be met.
There is no freelancer camaraderie on Melbourne Cup day. We do not gather from lunch time onwards in city pubs, sporting a lovely suit or a frilly fascinator. We do not imbibe the bubbles like they’re going out of fashion from the minute the boss cracks open the bottle. We do not get involved in ‘sweeps’ (I didn’t know what a sweep was until I started dating a suit in my early 20s. How would I know what a sweep was? Hello, solo freelancer here! Who am I going to sweep with?).
I have tried to get involved. In years past I would pop down to the TAB, put a flutter on a pony (I would choose based on the colours the jockey was wearing, very scientific). I would sit by myself at 3pm and watch the race. I would cheer for my pony. Alone. I would lose my $5. I would go back to work. Truly, the only thing sadder than not participating in the revelry of the Melbourne Cup is trying to participate on your own.
At least I have the children to fall back on now (not literally, of course). Fortunately I always have something important to do at 3pm on a Tuesday afternoon – pick kids up from school. Actually last year was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on Melbourne Cup day. I organised an impromptu viewing of the race in the kindergarten room, with a few of the kiddies and some willing teachers. We wore silly hats from the dress-ups box and shouted at the ponies. It was pretty good, but not as much fun as the real deal, I expect.
One of these days I’m going to wrangle myself an invite to an office on Melbourne Cup day so I can experience the pleasure that the employed must feel on this day. The joy of only working a half day, the naughty thrill of getting pissed on a Tuesday! Or, even better, perhaps I’ll organise a gathering of freelancers, and we can take over a pub in our t-shirts and trackie dacks, beers in hand, united in our lack of any other form of unification.
Come on ponies!
Until next time, happy freelancing.
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