Nobody wants to work. But very few of us are ever going to be good enough to get paid to surf. So how do you get your fix of surfing and still make enough coin to keep you in boards, suits, red wine and surf magazines?
Well here’s a cut out and keep guide to surfer friendly jobs. Working for the man sucks. We’ve all been there. The idiot boss, the aggravating colleagues, long hours for little reward and the slim chance of promotion. The 9 to 5 is a soul-jacking experience. If you think your job is the be all and end all then best not read on, but if you think your job is a way of making money to give you the means necessary to go and do the stuff you really want to do (i.e. surf), then read on.
One of the keys to a surf friendly job is the hours. If you are stuck behind a desk all day then you are rooted, you can only manage weekend warrior status like that. So with a little compromise on the hours you commit your wage slavery you will be the man (or lady) on the dawnie mission whenever it’s on.
Barkeep/Waiting On A classic surfer occupation due to the hours, it’s either lunchtime (when the surf is crowded) or evening (when it’s dark, durr). If you are working behind the bar you are less likely to be quaffing ales as well so you win on a few counts: 1) You are saving loads of money by not spending it on piss 2) You are staying healthy, we all like a few beers but a beer gut and surfing don’t really mix 3) You’ll be clear headed in the morning and on it for the early.
Maccas Much derided but an easy option. The work is uncomplicated, you get free food (even some healthy options these days) and they have stores everywhere. Once you have got some experience you can work in any of the restaurants, as they are all use the same equipment/procedures. So you can work in Newquay, Anglet, Sydney or anywhere else that you want to surf. Hours are flexible, the pay better than you think and when you are done with it all you can always profit by writing a book about how you flobbed on every burger you ever sold.
Bin Person A good way to keep fit and find lots of interesting things that people throw out. Hours are good, you’re done before lunch giving the whole afternoon to surf and the money is cool. Granted you’ll end up smelling like shit and may meet some very strange people in the gutters at 5.30 a.m. but it’s worth it. Get a rural route where it’s more driving than working and you’re styling.
Postie Same deal as above, start early and finish by lunch. You get paid for set hours and once the work is done you can bugger off for a surf so even though you are contracted till 1 o’clock odds are most days you’ll be outta there by 11. If you get a bike round you keep hell fit and around Christmas time you should be able to skim off plenty of cash from the Crimbo cards. Just don’t tell them you got the idea here.
Surf Photog There is no easy way to start being a surf photog. You just have to go out and do it. Sure you’re gonna make mistakes and you will blow heaps of cash on camera gear but get it right, make a name for yourself and you could find yourself getting paid to go on exotic trips. Never gonna make a million doing it, but you’ll be chasing the surf 24/7 and so will surf more than anyone apart from the pros. Unless the waves are firing and the lights good in which case you’ll be shooting with gritted teeth. It’s the devils bargain. You just have to pray for rain cos then you can surf all day.
Surf Journo A rare breed worldwide. All you need is a spark of originality, a good grasp of what works in the surf mags, a tonne of real life experience and access to a computer. A 2000-word article can net anything up to £300 from one magazine, write something really good and you can sell the same piece again to mags in the US, Oz and Europe. Ch-ching. The beauty of the job is you get to go on trips to simply surf and observe, unlike the poor photog that has to carry two tonnes of equipment.
Drug Mule/Runner Not technically legal in some parts of Europe but still a career path that surfers are always gonna take or be associated with by the lazy mass-media. Morally tricky, ethically unsound and there is always the risk of being gunned down when you step on some kingpin’s toes … it’s never pleasant when someone pops a cap in your ass. Not really advised unless you are extremely stupid/desperate/lucky/have a deathwish as recent cases in Bali etc confirm.
Drug Guinea Pig If you can get past the queue of South Africans, the drug test is a legal way to make cash quick for minimum effort. Jarvis is the world authority on the many aspects of this field. Some tests involve a control group being given a placebo (a dummy drug), so you get paid to take a sugar pill and not some shit that may thin your blood or something weird. Course you don’t know if you are on the heavy stuff or the dummy until people start wigging out and spewing everywhere. No surf for the weeks you are doing the test but you can score a couple of grand for a few weeks playing pool. The best we heard was one test where the control group had to drink vodka all day every day? That’s science?
High Class Professional Escort Manwhore Or Regular Lady Hooker: if you’ve got it flaunt it. Can work in any country, although local rates or awkward pimps may make it unworkable in poorer nations. Evening work as well so it frees you up for the early. Possibly illegal, depends on the country and obvious moral/health issues.
Lifeguard: Torture. Sitting on the beach watching witless tourists make tools of themselves whilst the waves pump. Only upside is you can annoy the shit out of other surfers by setting up the swimming area right on the best bank on the whole beach. Good money for sitting on your arse reading the paper all day.
Pilot: Bit of a long shot this one, but if you make the grade you are styling. Plenty of time off, oodles of travel, good salary and you can keep an eye out for new spots when flying. Just don’t let anyone know you’re taking the scenic route to check out that new reef.
Hostie: Traditionally a job reserved for ladies and and men that have a skin care regime but surfing is a broad church and as such all are welcome. Similar perks to pilotry but minus the fun of tooling around in a 747 like you are Luke Skywalker or something. Get an Indo or Pacific route and you will score heaps of waves.
Rig Worker: For the serious surfing monk. You want to surf? You want to travel? Don’t mind being cooped up on a rusting metal box in the middle of the sea, with some very butch men for four weeks at a time? Oil and gas rigs need cleaners, cooks etc and the pay you get for suffering low-grade porn, burly bearded men and having no life at all for half the year is ample. Enough to bog off to Indo every time you get a few weeks off between stints.
So there you go, a smorgasbord of job opportunities for you. Get out of the office and out into the real world and spend more of your time surfing and living than chasing the false gods of money and possessions.