The Grape Men, as regular readers would know, are glorious mythic characters who tend to South Australian wine grapes that they keep on a semi-trailer in the large vacant lot next door to my flat.
They are my heroes. I have observed them closely for many years and can now pass on what we, the rat race’s dreary participants, can learn from these stooped, wrinkled, blasphemous, cacophonous, cantankerous gods amongst men:
- If a job’s worth doing it’s worth doing with extremely loud swearing.
Onlooking is just as important a job as lifting, carrying or digging.
Don’t sweat the small stuff is a terrible maxim to live by. We should not only sweat the small stuff but bottle the sweat and splash it in the face of the perpetrators of the minor errors that have led to our perspiration.
Never let the fact there’s ostensibly nothing left to do get in the way of a 12-hour working day. Pickaxing a bare patch of ground, reversing a truck into a position and then moving it back into its original position and thrashing at a fence with a piece of rope are all examples of noble labour.
Don’t put up with slackers. If you ask a co-worker – let’s call him Enzo and let’s say he’s 85 – to move 50 kg pallets from one end of a semi-trailer to another using only some gardening gloves, and about 300 pallets in he asks if he can stop and have some of the tiramisu you’re eating, punish him with a ruthless, mascarpone-and-shaved-chocolate-flecked verbal barrage.
Theirs is not so much an example to be followed, but an ideal to be worshipped.
An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. You can read Benign to Five in those papers every Saturday.