Eight Days of Freedom: A Schoolies Tale

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School holidays
have begun for High School students down under. Thousands of students
have finished school. Many of these will head to their nearest beach
resorts for a taste of freedom, fun and escape from the memories
of school and suburbia. So what kind of antics will they get up

Probably not
much. All over the country at well-known schoolies gathering spots,
there are police, chaplains and emergency services standing ready
to "assist." Counsellors rove the streets, looking for
those in need. There are official celebrations, sanctioned fireworks
displays and "organized" fun. With so much help on hand,
is the experience still worth showing up for?

We don't think
so. The real world is nothing like a week at the seaside, suffering
the auspices of "organized" celebrations. Yet sceptics
will say this isn't the point. The whole idea of going there is
to get away from the normal student reality of schools, studying
and life in the suburbs. Being naturally averse to taking suggestions,
we take the opposite view. A week in a seaside town, whilst possibly
being pleasant, will do nothing to help students cope with the reality
of life post-school. After being locked up for twelve years, it
is reality these teens will need to cope with.

So here's the
suggestion: like most people adjusting to change, graduating school
students deserve a chance to get used to life outside the school
gates. For most people, this means life in the sprawling suburbs
which surround our cities. This is the real world where most of
us live. The suburbs provide more stimulation than cold pizza, cable
TV and seaside catatonia in a rented apartment block for a week.
Unless your surname is Gates, Hilton or some moniker equally endowed
with fiduciary backing, the real world is where you'll have to live.
In reality, "schoolies in the suburbs" would prepare students
for life beyond school. In reality, a week in the real world might
look something like this:

Day One:
You have completed the compulsory embarrassment and expense of the
school formal. After a lengthy night of rigorous social intercourse,
you roll home just before breakfast. Feeling slightly fragile, you
forget to turn off the 6am alarm, which in your haste to turn off,
is knocked into the waste bin from which is bleats forth its persistent
message. It refuses to heed your frantic search, and still hostile,
you throw the entire waste bin into the hall. That does it: the
whole house is awake now. Which means so are you.

At breakfast,
your servant (who is related only by virtue of surname, and some
contribution of genetic material) reminds you that now exams are
over, you have chores to do. The car needs washing; the laundry
has to brought in; the lawn needs mowing after just a month since
it was done last time; the dog needs a walk, having taken to carrying
the leash permanently in its mouth, but with hopes fading; and the
worst of all — there is no ibuprofen in the house. Disaster. You
retreat to your bedroom, lock the door, and toss and turn in the
pre-summer humidity till noon when the phone wakes you. It's the
Cash'n'Carry telling you your shift starts in an hour, and if you're
late again, you won't get any more shifts. Rolling your eyes at
the sarcasm, you silently make rude hand gestures at your boss whilst
saying you'll be there soon. Eight hours later, you stagger home
swearing at your boss for extending your shift on the cash registers
and vowing never to double bag your own groceries.

Day Two:
after several lengthy phone conversations with clued in compadres,
you suddenly realise you've probably flunked maths by a big margin.
Seems you used last years text book which changed publishers this
year. Oops. Maybe those uni preferences should really be changed
to something with a lower entry score. The Cash'n'Carry rings you
again, saying because you were late yesterday, they've rostered
someone else in your place for the rest of the week. Oh oh. You
really needed the money to buy those killer jeans that are half
price until Friday. Damn. Your mobile phone suddenly runs out of
credit and the only servant at home (on a day off) says no, you
can't "borrow" $20 to refill it because you haven't paid
back the last $20 you borrowed. Last week. Hmmm.

Day Three:
Some weeks should be taken out and shot. Suddenly, one of the servants
announces a work crisis and says they're driving to the regional
outposts for a few days to sort things out. They'll need the big
sedan which means your car (it really is yours, despite
what the servants say about the cost of buying, registering, insuring
and servicing it) is needed for the next week. This means you can't
head off to the beach with your friends for a few days. This is
crucial. You'd organised with most of them to take a few precious
days off and your car was the only one available. Now, they're stuck
at home watching Oprah, running down their prepaid mobile phones
and swearing at you in as many languages they can think of to search
for words with on Google. You wonder if you've seriously offended
someone in a past life for such a run of bad luck. Oh well. Whatever.

Day Four:
you wake with a itchy rash where there shouldn't be one and
wonder about that fling just before final exams started. Maybe the
unidentifiable accent was intriguing but you don't recall the last
name and haven't seem them since. If it's still there in a week
you contemplate a search on line of what symptoms you should really
report to a Doctor.

Two hours later,
the itch is driving you nuts and spread to even more unscratchable
places. Scouring the bathroom you come across some weird milky lotion
that promises a nirvana of itch free skin; you vaguely recall what
that feels like. Promising yourself to at least ask for a last name
next time, you use half the jar, only just managing to avoid extreme
embarrassment when a younger sibling hits the bathroom door with
a clenched fist. Oh that right. They're still at school this week.
You skulk back to your room. On the way, grab the cordless phone
and a half emptied bottle of coke. Breakfast never tasted so sweet.
Gotta remember there's another phone extension though. Cash'n'Carry
still being unhelpful and haven't called. You ring the naff being
in the roster office but they must be on another planet today —
so distant they don't remember the coke and chips you shared with
them over lunch one day just last month. Don't people care any more?
What happened to loyalty amongst friends?

Day Five:
Great. Just great. The local university is on TV for all the
wrong reasons. Turns out someone's stuffed up big time and cooked
the enrolment books. Lots of kids aren't going to get offers next
year because of an admin snafu. There's more detail but you've heard
enough. You wonder if government assistance might cover the cost
of living in a regional centre but recall that means you'd have
to rent, buy food and so forth. Isn't that what servants are meant
to provide?

After a dreary
day, you go to a party. Someone offers you a trip overseas for free.
You go, like, are you for real, like? Wadd'ya think I am? Just another
drug mule for hire? You vaguely remember something you saw on TV
about people who were dumb enough to get caught being jailed overseas.
Being clever you know that wouldn't happen to you. But at least
you wouldn't have the servants cracking a nana whenever you don't
make the bed with hospital corners. The party continues.

By 11pm the
party is stomping. You realise this is because there are dozens
of kids there you don't know. The venue is a friends place. It might
be getting a bit out of hand. Watching the flames while toasting
marshmallows and swigging warm Pepsi (it wasn't Coke, but it was
free) you idly observe that they never had a barbeque pit before.
Odder still, the burning wood is a strangely green colour. Whist
contemplating the pretty white smoke it makes, you fail to realise
that half the fence line is now missing palings, and suddenly, parked
beyond it, a big red fire engine now sits. Surreally, hooded men
wearing masks emerge from the truck and drag you into a corner.
They clamp an oxygen mask on your face and tell you to breathe normally.

you protest as they uncaringly spilled your Pepsi and your marshmallows
are now black. They ignore and mutter amongst themselves using terms
like "cyanide poisoning", "toxic smoke" and
"just wait till your parents hear about this." Not really
comprehending, you turn your hand over to admire the blue fingernails
and that's the last thing you remember until the next morning.

Day Six:
The hospital staff are very kind to you despite what you said
to them last night (which you don't remember at all). One of the
servants rocks up and carts you home, to bemused snorts and giggles
from your siblings. At least you weren't arrested. You read the
headlines that say the holding cells were full and that charges
are being laid for damage to property. At least the party was fun.
Until the guys with the red truck turned up and spoiled it all.

Your fingernails
are no longer blue. You notice a funny taste sensation at the back
of the throat and wonder if you need to drink more water. Your servants
consults some lists and gives the all clear for you to drink whatever
you want, proclaiming all fluids to be helpful. Gee thanks. Annoyed
that the party ended early (and cut short on chatting up the naff
insider from the roster office), you cut out to a friends place.

Four hours
later, you return. Your friends are in more trouble than you are.
Caught with a few illicit substances on hand, they were arrested
for possession and they face Juvenile court sometime next week.
One of their servants just left the house with the sole car packed
to the ceiling. The remaining servant says they have to get a job
and there's no cash for handouts. That means your friends chances
of maintaining their social status look slim. Out in suburban Nowheresville,
this is serious trouble; a social life can quickly drop dead in
the water without ready access to wheels. Also, no car means no
job. No way you'd be seen dead chaining the much-abused third-hand
bicycle behind the local Cash'n'Carry unless life depended on it.
It also means the remaining servant will have trouble getting a
job so they can support your friend in the style they were accustomed

To escape the
world you pick up the weekend paper and read that the latest series
of video-phones will shortly come onto the market. You know your
friends will buy them and you have to keep up. This means you have
to get a source of income that doesn't sulk when you take the keys
to the car. Guess you'll have to beg the Cash'n'Carry for mercy
(and a few more higher-paying weekend shifts).

Day Seven:
your at-home servant attempts to describe working for a living,
with all the antiquated views, exaggerated bad scenarios, guilt
inducing terms and pronouncements of dread. Foreign words abound.
You keep the eye-rolling to a minimum, all the while watching the
clock until you can reasonably get somewhere else on some pretext.
The phone rings, momentarily distracting the servant. When the servant
starts debating the uninvited caller about the merits of investment
property mortgages, you seize the car keys and bolt. The car gas
tank shows half full — success! On the way out you also "borrowed"
their unlocked mobile phone so the day is yours. Life is sweet.

It's two hours
later. The sun beats down and the bitumen looks to be buckling from
your perch in the shade. The guy from the tow truck with the greasy
teeth shakes his head and says for the umpteenth time, its gonna
be at least three days before you could possibly get engine parts
for that. How were you to know what the red light meant?
You were sorting out a crisis — the mobile battery was almost flat
after just a few text messages and a brief call here and there —
then the car sort of slowed down, gave a discreet cough like that
overweight English teacher you never cared for, and quietly expired,
like you wish the English teacher always would do, but never did.
The card in the glove box had a mechanics number on it. Heroically
sacrificing the last juice in the mobile battery, you ring the mechanic
and tell him where you are before the phone symbolically follows
the car's lead, expiring with a protest of beeps. The tow truck
driver shakes his head again. The cars smells like hot burning oil
— unfortunately there wasn't any where it was supposed to be. How
were you to know?

The mechanic
says no, he can't give you a lift home, he has another job to pick
up. He offers to drop you at a bus stop. You decline politely, thinking
only losers get on a bus. You have the last twenty bucks from your
servants wallet on hand. It pays the cab until you get nearly home
when the meter exceeds your bill and the driver tosses you out.
At least there wasn't far to walk.

Day Eight:
Waking far earlier than you need to, you review your reception
home yesterday. Yeah, fair enough the entire family is now car-less.
But it could have been worse. We could have been hit by a tsunami
or something in the meantime. Cash'n'Carry rings shortly after breakfast
and begrudgingly offers you an afternoon shift. Calculating the
cash value of your fifteen year old bicycle at the local pawn shop,
you realise that an afternoon shift probably pays more money so
the disgrace of riding rather then driving will have to be borne
forever. You accept the shift and hang up. The icy stares and angry
comments from the home-bound servant are cold enough to freeze the
house so you retire to your room again. Suddenly you realise your
television set is missing. How will you function? After being confronted,
the servant admits yes, they took the TV to their room as punishment
for killing the car. You can have it back once the car returns.
The servant spins on their heel and stalks off to their room, slamming
the door behind them. Through the cheap wooden panelling you hear
the click of the wall mounted air conditioner, the only one in the
house which, incredibly unfairly, lives in the servants quarters.
There is no justice. Slumping onto the couch, you catch the tail
end of a weather update from the TV in the lounge room which promises
a nice hot bicycle ride to work to look forward to. Sweet.

The Happy
for a lot of our readers, there won't be one. The end
of school is certainly something to celebrate. But it is also a
time to grapple with real life. There are many students who will
defer life for several more years under the guise of "further
education." Most people this is a good idea. Being naturally
resistant to supposedly good ideas, we disagree. There is plenty
of opportunity around for those prepared to think laterally, and
pay their own way.

Of course,
most graduating school students won't think this way. At great expense,
many will head off to a college of their choice, where they will
spend many years and much of their parents money on clothes, parties
and occasionally going to classes. If they get a piece of paper
at the end, they become as Gary North describes them, "certified
drudges," able to be drafted into corporate slavery until retirement

Is this all
there is?

Sadly, many
will not contemplate any other life. Nor how it came about in the
first place. Few if any would know of the words that described how
we come to be enslaved to a job for most of our working lives:

“If the
American people ever allow private banks to control the issue
of their currency, first by inflation then by deflation, the banks
and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the
people of their property until their children wake up homeless
on the continent their fathers conquered.”

Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States, 1801–1809

Despite being
held hostage in a learning factory since childhood, many will be
functionally illiterate, innumerate and incapable of demonstrating
much potential to learn anything much useful.

Yet many of
us who can read, write and do occasional arithmetic (perhaps with
the aid of that infernal electronic abacus) fail to realise how
we are robbed each day of our lives by those who pretend to look
out for us. Students of any age would want answers to these questions.
Who is our friend? Who is our enemy?

During their
lawful incarceration, all students would have heard vaguely from
time to time about the 3 R's; what they probably didn't hear about
was something far more important, the 4 G's of life: God, gold,
guns and government. Yes grasshopper, fanciful distractions they
are not for they affect your life every day without you realising.
The trick is that of the 4 G's, only one you need, one you don't
and two you'll need at some stage or another. Think about it.

Best wishes
for your post-school experience,

Your Editor.

2, 2005

[send him mail]
getting a full-time job straight from school, Your Editor
embraced poverty (and part-time work) in his mid-twenties to become
university qualified. A cheerful pessimist, he enjoys reading the
Daily Reckoning (sometimes every day). His roles models are
Ron Paul and the Mogambo Guru. Having worked for both private and
public sectors in various roles, he hopes to one day move back to
a real job in the private sector.

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