Mitchell doesn’t believe in the sack
‘If ever I do get a job again,’ said Mitchell, ‘I’ll stick to it while there’s a hand’s turn of work to do, and put a few pounds together. I won’t be the fool I always was. If I’d had sense a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t be tramping through this damned sand and mulga now. I’ll get a job on a station, or at some toff’s house, knocking about the stables and garden, and I’ll make up my mind to settle down to graft for four or five years.
‘But supposing you git the sack?’ said his mate.
‘I won’t take it. Only for taking the sack I wouldn’t be hard-up to-day. The boss might come round and say:—
“I won’t want you after this week, Mitchell. I haven’t got any more work for you to do. Come up and see me at the office presently.”
‘So I’ll go up and get my money; but I’ll be pottering round as usual on Monday, and come up to the kitchen for my breakfast. Some time in the day the boss’ll be knocking round and see me.’
“Why, Mitchell,” he’ll say, “I thought you was gone.”
‘I didn’t say I was going’ I’ll say. ‘Who told you that — or what made you think so?’
“I thought I told you on Saturday that I wouldn’t want you any more,” he’ll say, a bit short. “I haven’t got enought work to keep a man going; I told you that; I thought you understood. Didn’t I give you the sack on Saturday?”
‘It’s no use;’ I’ll say, ‘that sort of thing’s played out. I’ve been had too often that way; I’ve been sacked once too often. Taking the sack’s been the cause of all my trouble; I don’t believe in it; if I’d never taken the sack I’d have been a rich man to-day; it might be all very well for horses, but it doesn’t suit me; it doesn’t hurt you, but it hurts me. I made up my mind that when I got a place to suit me, I’d stick in it. I’m comfortable here and satisfied, and you’ve had no cause to find fault with me. It’s no use you trying to sack me, because I won’t take it. I’ve been there before, and you might as well try to catch an old bird with chaff.’
“Well, I won’t pay you, and you’d better be off,” he’ll say, trying not to grin.
‘Never mind the money,’ I’ll say, ‘the bit of tucker won’t cost you anything, and I’ll find something to do round the house till you have some more work. I won’t ask you for anything, and, surely to God! I’ll find enough to do to pay for my grub!’
‘So I’ll potter round and take things easy and call up at the kitchen as usual at meal times, and by-and-bye the boss’ll think to himself: “Well, if I’ve got to feed this chap I might as well get some work out of him.”
‘So he’ll find me something regular to do — a bit of fencing, or carpentering, or painting, or something, and then I’ll begin to call up for my stuff again, as usual.’
Henry Lawson, While the Billy Boils, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1896, pages 139-141
grub = food
toff = someone who is rich or upper-class, a term usually used in a somewhat derogatory manner
Vernacular spelling in the original text: