God I love a man in high vis gear. Really, I do. Rugged, hardworking, doing his bit by travelling away to keep his family in bread and water, facing the elements and wayward machinery in his fluorescent yellows and ‘look at me NOW’ metallic stripes. Even the artfully splashed dirt across the shoulders which was probably gained from fireman-lifting some poor dirty kitten to safety from an awful fire he happened upon on his way back to the donga after shift’s end. Oh yes, I get a bit silly in the wee when it comes to a man in high-vis uniform.
And it all seemed terribly romantic this Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) existence. Sure, you’d have to deal with the kids for four weeks on your own while your partner was off working hard and getting lots of ‘adult’ conversation. But on the other hand, your house would stay toilet seat down for that time and you’d have no guilt about throwing the children at him while you waltzed out the door for your ‘waxing’ appointment (read wax, coffee, gossip with friends, poke around the shops and drive around singing your playlist at top volume). Your partner would be around for weeks enabling them to spend ‘quality’ time with your children and you yourself. And you’d be ever so happy to see each other after four weeks in your separate work or household jungles. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that crap.
Yep, it’s crap.
Absolutely painfully crappy: put-your-big-toe-in-a-vice-and-tighten-it-a-little-every-day-for-years-on-end crap.
I can categorically say that my short experience with being a FIFO Widow has led me to question on an almost daily basis how the hell people doing this over a long period of time actually keep their marriages and sanity intact. Really! How do they?
My husband has been working away for three days out of every week for the past few months which at the start was almost idyllic. I had full remote control access, the house was tidy, I could cure the children of their bad habits (endless milk at bedtime for example) and I could muck about on Facebook unhindered by disapproving stares for hours…
But that turned to crap pretty quick. On his return I felt hard done by since I was working 24 hours a day keeping these kids alive all on my lonesome, whereas he wanted a ticker tape parade on arrival back home because he’d been working at actual ‘work’ (or ‘having fun with other adults’ as I like to call it) for a few days. The house exploded with all manner of husband related paraphernalia and suddenly my youngest child is back to drinking a litre of milk just before bed again. He needed to get away for a surf, I needed my time away so I didn’t kill a member of my family… and then suddenly it was the night before he went back to work; everyone’s got Sunday night-itis and we felt like we’d hardly spent time together as a family. And these are just a few chips off the iceberg of shitfulness that is FIFOing.
To all those FIFOers out there, at home or at work, you have my unconditional admiration: I really don’t know how you do it. Do you just grit your teeth and think of the jetski? Or thank the mining gods you’ve got a roof over your head and food to eat in the sixth most expensive country in the world to live in?
Our FIFO journey is almost at an end and I can not wait. So in a final salute to all the FIFO widows, here is a little bit of high vis eye candy to get you through the day. Except for number 6. That’s a shocker.
1. Oh Harry…
2. More high vis Harry? Yes please!
3. And then there’s Brad, being all coy and serious, working hard for Ange and the brats.
4. And this shmuck. Apparently he qualifies as eye candy since he has a high vis vest on.
6. And just to prove that high vis cannot always work miracles… I give you our illustrious Prime Minister:
7. Even this dog looks better than Tony Abbott in high vis.