Relating to coworkers as a former treeplanter can be hard. Going from one industry to another is always a bit of a shift. Going from trades to customer service means you have to watch your words, dress presentably, and actually practice your worker’s rights in regards to a harassment-free environment.
It’s weird going from sales, back to the wild world of fundraising. O by the way, I’m a fundraiser again. For those of you that don’t know, fundraising in Australia was my introduction to the sales world. I would learn later that sales and fundraising are completely different (but not really). But they’re more similar to one another than tree-planting is to either; though many will say fundraising is really about the charities. Then again, there are plenty of planters who will say plantings really about the experience, family, trees… whatever hippy bullshit the season’s fuckwit comes up with really.
Anyways. No matter what industry you go into after treeplanting, just know your coworkers have never been eaten alive by mosquitoes, black flies, and horse flies. They might have a camping experience, or maybe they did Cadets, or Scouts as a kid… In their world, the experience is similar, because they don’t understand how thick and unending the swarm can truly be.
You honestly can’t imagine a sky blacked out by bugs until you’ve seen it. Audio drowned out by the buzz till you’ve heard it. And the itch. I’ve repressed the itch because I can’t afford counsouling. #COVIDproblems.
Then Again You Don’t Get Them Either
You think you do. Lord knows I used too for the longest time. Because I’ve grazed the surface of their experience. Seen the industry, and their life for three weeks I read ’em like an open book. Truth of the matter, they don’t take breaks from their friends or family. They don’t go and come back, spicing things up every couple of months. They’re just there, being with one another day in day out. For all its beauty and repetition.
Because you’re always going into new things, new places, picking up and dropping off, you’re not as akin to the monotonous grind. If we fail or don’t like something, we blow in the wind. The planter community is full of transients, and we help each other while flaking around the world. It lets us take risks easier because we have less to lose. Our roots are more shallow, and our bark is thinner, lighter, and adaptable. We can’t support as many things, but we can be placed anywhere and thrive for ourselves.
Those that stayed to grow. To have a focus instead of adventure. Well, taking leaps isn’t so simple.
Plus they probably have a greater mental stigma and fear of failure. They’ve likely taken more calculated risks in their life and have grown slowly but steadily. At least slow but steady in the eyes to the transients, who experience peaks and depths week by week.
Relating to Coworkers as a former treeplanter goes both ways. You want to make them understand you, but you’ve got to put in the work to understand them.
This Post Isn’t About Treeplanting Is It?
Well, kinda. It’s about relating to coworkers as a former treeplanter. A life after treeplant if you will. And not the between seasons ‘life after treeplant’, The mental check out, and financial planning of life after planting. When your main income, and possibly main adventures and friends no longer come from the plant cycle, but from a new industry or venture.
Sometimes I think I’m being overdramatic. That if I stopped overthinking it, and just accepted the flow this wouldn’t be difficult. But I’ve always had treeplanting to escape too. If the job sucked or the industry wasn’t right; i.e the first time I tried fundraising and realized it wasn’t for me when the roaming team truly got off the rails. They couldn’t scare me with “We’ll fire you” because every week the planting season drew closer.
But now it’s gone, and I’m left sorting my own accommodation, meals, adventures, friends and income. And when I try to tell people about the wild bush, they say they get it. But they don’t, and it really bugs me.
And then they tell me how to deal with animals when threatened or looking like they’ll attack. Come on, really?
So. The Current CoWorkers
I really like my boss. I think she’s awesome, and one those mentors I’ve been waiting for to learn from. She’s got heaps of responsibilities, so I don’t expect her to hold my hand or hang out with me after work, but I know there’s going to value in every conversation.
However, there’s another coworker, Ash. We had a really rough start. I mean the initial meeting was great. High energy on both ends, the boss said we’d get along well and we had this body language of let’s be friends and make a lot of money. I was really excited at first.
And then he got way up in my face, told me to stay on my side of the booth while being on my side. I know its petty, but this sparked an inner confrontational beast, and I called him out for being a hypocrite. Writing this out I realize how childish this all sounds, but in the moment it felt like that important first impression to set of oneself. His intentions may have been friendly, but I interpreted them as a dominance hyarchy play.
Testing how much disrespect, invasion of space (personal and commercial) and ego he could throw at me. In my experience shutting that shit down once, especially early is sufficient for a healthy friendship, or workmate relationship.
So I called him out. And he laughed it off. Still being uncomfortably close to my face. Where in uniform while potential sign-ups pass us by. He goes to break the tension, pats me on the back and feels something off. So then he literally starts rubbing me the wrong way.
Shout Out To Mom And Treeplanting
I had shit posture as a kid. I hung my head low, and when I discovered Warcraft 3, my neck was perpetually cranked. Treeplanting didn’t help my posture one bit. Those big heavy bags on a hunched back really makes it sore. Sliped disc’s, hunched necks, and general spinal failures are common in the industry, and common among nerds. As a nerd in the industry I was fucked.
So for my birthday my mom and dad complied a big ole box of goodies! And in my box of goodies was a posture corrector! (Fuck am I old. I used to get excited over 6packs and day passes to water resorts. Now I get a posture corrector and think it’s the best thing ever). So I strapped that bad boy on! After all, its sales, and I need to look my best! Plus, I’ll be passively fixing my back. Win-win.
Yes, I have grown self-conscious over my nerd neck, and shitty posture over the months. I’ve been doing my darndest to fix it myself, but this rut has really taken a lot out of me. Sometimes its ok to use additional resources.
Wrap It Up Man
Right, I know this is about Relating to Coworkers as a former tree planter and now I’m dairying, but when don’t I rant?
So he feels the corrector and makes a comment about it. But he doesn’t stop rubbing it! I slap his arm away and it latches right back on. “DUDE! What the fuck is that?!” I shoved him and grumbled “Don’t fucking touch me man! I’ve known you five minutes”. At first, I was embarrassed my secret was out of the bag, then I was embarrassed for losing my cool. Then I was furious he wouldn’t drop the fucking subject.
I know its not a big deal, in fact, it’s fucking awesome I’ve identified a core problem and have been able to take responsibility and action. It’s just a responsibility and action I wanted to take in private. A process and victory none but my-self had to know about. (And my parents, because they sent me the thing). And I guess you guys now because I’m talking about it.
Anyways. I found myself having a moment in the bathroom. You’ve got a broken tooth, a back corrector, a degree you’re not using and you’re dependant on your parents’ money… Well if we focused on the bad we would have gone home by now. At least we’ve got a new job! A sales job. With that, I splashed some cold water on my face and went back to work.
I didn’t make a sale today. Didn’t come close. In fact, I could barely stop people, and that was never hard for me back in the Straya days. Then again I’ve done an awful lot of changing since then.
Leave It At The Door I Guess
After years of working alone, I’m back to working in proximity of people. I used to feed off it, and I’ll do it again. Today I walked away realizing I need to go over my pitch and adapt to these new fundraisers the way I adapted to the tree-planters when I was a rookie. Be a blank slate.
Unlike Public Outreach, this company has a lot of ‘career’ fundraisers. People who’ve been doing it for over 3 years. The guy I was working with today has been doing it for four. He’s literally put more time into this than I have into school (because summer break’s for students and seasonal folks) Yes he was hands-on, but fundraisers are lose. I perpetuate that and stressed my old company was loose and fun and I’ll be a loose fun guy who hits targets.
It just caught me off guard, then my reaction to my reaction created an internal snowball. I didn’t think we’d get that touchy with each other that fast. There were other factors at play; like my pitch. My god was I horrible. I reviewed but didn’t practice last night. I built interest in two people to listen to me. And my god did I bomb. Then again, I was barely stopping. Whether its because buddy fucked me off or not is irrelevant. It’s my job to do what I got to do to get people to stop and give me money to send special needs kids on field trips. How I cool off is on me, but I need to cool off.
One Last Word About The Guy
The guy’s by far the best fundraiser I’ve ever seen. I won’t bore you with the details, but he managed to tweak me personally, then make me grovel professionally. His tactics were so cringed, yet so effective. Everyone was a hard close, and that’s way better than I can say about me, Joe, Bic, Yuga and Paul when we were fundraising. Relating to Coworkers as a former treeplanter will be tough but I’ll get there.
I guess I’ll have too if I say I’m the learner and worker that I am. This place presents such an incredible opportunity to learn; because this guys good. He did it the way I wanted to do it when I was 22, only he’s a killer. I was an aggressive sales man, who annoyed people into doing it. This guy makes you want to do it. I’m not sure how, but he’s really damn good. Thats my take on Relating to Coworkers as a former treeplanter.