Pripyat, not Cowra. It's a metaphor, okay?

*puff* *puff*

Wow, lookee here—there’s a blog under all this dust.

I’m glad the whole PCYC thing’s over, really. Every weekday, I’d leave work and meander up to the PCYC to spend several hours staring into space as nothing happened around me. Often, I’d pop in on the weekend, and sometimes, I’d see the place seven days a week. Mim put a lot of effort into that place, but I’ll admit, I didn’t, because I saw it a coming a long way off:

Some ego-obsessed tool from head office won’t relinquish an ounce of authority to the locals, nor will they spare the personal attention the operation needs. And so everyone runs around in circles until it all falls apart—in short, it becomes a death march. You see it a lot during election campaigns. The worst part is that you can’t simply move on; you need a long time to recover, probably as long as the death march itself. I guess that’s why, in the years I worked as a political campaigner, I’d want to de-spine people like sardines at the end of a three-election year.

Anyway, I’m here now, and I’m starting to feel like writing, again. For those out there who care but don’t know yet, Centrelink tacked another six weeks onto the end of my contract, and I’m reasonably happy working there. Maybe I’ll try to make a career of it; maybe I’ll tire of the Department making policy in a vacuum; who knows?

I think I’m also starting to get the hang of Cowra. After six months here, I’ve come to the conclusion that Cowra is the Town That Checked the Fuck Out. Everyone who gave a damn about this place has either moved on, or is waiting for some poor schmuck to hand off to. Hell, I found myself on two committees, just by showing up to meetings.

Every day, I sell online services to a community barely cognisant of IT. But worse: there are no jobs, no transport, no entertainment and abysmal literacy. If you’re female, then single motherhood is one of the more promising career prospects; otherwise, there’s property crime, the dole or the open road. Two-thirds of the shire relies on government benefits, and one-sixth of the local economy passes through Centrelink.

Half the town has that same expression you see in ghettos and in the wake of pervasive violence. If it was simply small-town elitism at work, then maybe outrage would correct the problem. Instead, the town labours under a stifling pall of apathy—even the victims don’t care any more. Why should they? All too often, they work to marginalise themselves even further; a social compact spans generations to keep them poor and stupid and wittingly dull.

Oddly, this doesn’t depress me. I grew up with this, after all; I’ve been where they’ve been; it’s home. But to them, I’m the guy from Centrelink, with my cushy government job and my too-modulated accent and funny clothes, kinda nice and kinda smart, but not in a reassuringly threatening manner—I’m the outsider, but moreso, because I don’t fit the clichés precisely. This makes me very uncomfortable, because most people decide you’re a threat, or worse still, make you into some tinpot messiah—messiahdom never ends well, either.

Better to keep my head down and observe. And become one with the apathy.

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