TED

Ted

Through convoluted paths our lives crossed. It started long ago. Untangling the threads takes time. Is it easier to say,

“It’s complicated”.

I meet angularly attractive Maria when I was a mid teenager. She was a rebellious soul, banished to an austere convent school in Ballarat. Perhaps that was part of the attraction? Maria’s misbehaviours and anti parental surliness gained her admission to the nuns, but were no doubt driven by a smart arse older brother, dux o’the high school and an over achieving younger sister who in her turn became like her brother a chemical engineer.

Jammed between them, Maria wasn’t as bright academically as her two siblings. She needed to stand out.  She was arty, and accentuated this to further differentiate herself, to find a space to stand. But the spotlight never shone on her. It reflected off of her behaviors drawing the attention she sought whilst simultaneously the punishment of her parents. Well to be truthful, her father was the one who meted out discipline, while her mother acquiesced in a blue haze of chain smoking.

High school for her ended when she ran off with Ted, no not the Ted of this story, the other Ted. Ted of Ted’s Camera store in Elizabeth St City.

They created a nest in a fusty old two storey terrace on Punt Rd, at the Brunton Avenue intersection just below Richmond Station. The traffic sounds and smells there are horrendous now, they were then. I risked a visit to see how she was getting on here one night. In the months since I’d seen her she’d grown in womanly knowingness, while I’d kept up my naive concern for her wellbeing. Ted was at least a decade older than Maria, and for what I could tell she was being used. I didn’t see her much after that. There were always phone calls to alert me to the latest of her adventures. It was the time of 10B tax breaks for film making and somehow she inveigled her way into the periphery of the movie making scene. There were tales of this and that party and how there was always going to be the big break. She said she’d bought the rights to the story of a cat burglar who’d terrorised Melbourne’s richest suburbs with his external wall scaling to access high rise apartments. She moved in circles I barely imagined existed, back and forth to the US of A, always with tales of daring do. Whilst it seemed fascinating for me there was always an air of unreality. As she moved from place to place in Melbourne it seemed she was barely aware of her surroundings. It was clear to me by now she had no real paying work yet she always in the lap of luxury. Naivety makes its own reality unencumbered by the facts. Occasionally borrowing from me with repayments made less and less frequently should have been an early warning for me. She told me in the end she was working a few days a week as an escort, allowing times for the movie social life and hubbub. This didn’t worry me, she seemed to be able to hold it all together but I suspected that much of what I was told was a figment of her imagination.

Years later I pieced some of it together. She’s moved to the Central Coast of NSW and she-horned herself and possessions into a tiny downstairs bed sit surrounded  by her few possessions. It seemed a long way from how things were when last we meet. Living off of the government she said she’d run away from some violence in a relationship and was busy now supporting domestic other domestic violence victims. This cause gave her access to authorities who investigated family matters, strangely she’d managed to sleep her way through a fair proportion of the Central Coast police hierarchy, or so she said.

Modelling for artists had become a source of income to supplement the dole, and tax free too, a nice little earner!

She’d meet a guy at the Patonga jetty, and she modelled for him and the classes he taught. It seemed idyllic.

Months later she’d moved in. Into the house he’d built behind the dunes on the Central Coast. It was, as they say, an interesting relationship. There was at least a thirty years age gap. She denied there was sex, though later on she claimed they lived as man and wife. I couldn’t get over the niggling feeling that she was using him, though he seemed besotted. Struck me that never really having had a live-in relationship but spending a lifetime looking after his early widowed mother he was a mummy’s boy.

Maria’s flights of fancy included a handmade self designed eco friendly mud brick shack built from soil of the plot he’d bought in the Dorrigo high country. Granting the in situ cow shed and a few acres beside it to the local indigenes was also part of the preposterous plan. I never found out if the soon to be blessed local land council were made aware of their impending bad fortune. It all seemed pie in the sky, and in time the clouds silver lining turned to a golden crust, the pie was setting. It all came to nought. Ideas soared beyond any reasonable budget, the more tragic when the money being budgeted was not your own. The sale of the property when they moved apart lead to a so called division of assets in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Through her self-represented dogged pursuit of perceived rights, Maria was ultimately declared a vexatious litigant. Ted got most of his money back and set himself up close to Bellingen, in a brick veneer cream brick house which he turned into a gallery.

Memories of his car building and racing days filled his days. Tales of racing Jack Brabham and Stirling Moss at Oran Park kept me enthralled. He painted, travelled the outback in his converted Kombi.

Slowly Maria faded from my memory; Ted had taken her place in the symmetry of life.

 

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An Office non-Encounter

Several passings of the passer. By my open office door. Head down, steadfast and striding. Her whole frame sloping forward, head past the door opening before the feet appear. Actually thrusting forward to avoid any chance of being swept up or stopped by a “Hiya” or a “Chew the fat” conversation. A non-encounter.

The swish and ruffle of a longish cross cut skirt on thick black nylon stockings catches my ear. Its a sensible sound, the way some sounds are, yet so very hard to achieve; especially when I glance down at my crushed black work trousers.

What a difference our new leader has made! The much vaunted leader came as a breath of fresh air. A fresh voice in the upper levels of management when before the leader’s arrival our team’s voice was muted. The passer supported the new leader because of their deep personal rapport. Three of the rest of the team didn’t know the new leader. But at least the strider did. The new leader would make it easier for agendas to be pushed. and so the leader was a convenient foil to hide behind, behind which secret agendas could be developed.

But slowly, almost imperceptibly the leader began to develop an independent voice. It started by not attending some of the myriad of committee meetings. Committees to review the decisions of some lower task forces. Most of the committee members were also members of the subordinate taskforce. The task forces were separately composed of representatives of lower action groups. Everyone at each level had to be informed. Multiple group emails were cc’d to keep all up to speed. Of course there were also the interminable morning meetings. Even the these dreaded morning meetings had to have minutes taken and action lists written on top of handwritten personal notes.

But over time the leader created a distance between our needs and the leader’s other work. The morning meetings went unattended. We were not the centre of attention.
Slowly our voice was silenced at upper levels. Multiple cancellations of meetings meant that even the investigative work the team did went unacknowledged, and the rot had set. Watercooler chats now became bitch sessions. The leader’s attendance times and location were a source of constant fascination. Why were department’s apparently misinformed after the leader’s visits. Every slight was misinterpreted, each mote in the eye an instant plank.
Slowly the morning meetings dissolved and barely a shred remained of the chatty days. The dropping in to discuss events, problems or advice evaporated.

Striding became the norm. Striding past doors now often closed, or almost closed. A cursory g’day to avoid the accusation of rudeness obligatory.
So hard to say what is learnt from the experience.

Perhaps its that one can only really rely on one’s own effort and not invest emotion in what others might do for you.

Mary – A Bunch, Another, then Another

How did it happen? I’m stretching to know. The fragments of a relationship in shattered pieces, picked up and reassembled, only to find the missing part is the one which made everything watertight. Without this piece all meaning flowed away.

I simply can’t remember. Perhaps a stroll through where I was will evoke the past, allow floating tendrils of memory to again enthral me. There was the gentile middle classedness of it all. The deep red cut brick of the one flight up, six pack apartments, spaciously garden set behind a grey green shrub lined garden, slightly unkempt. Pleasant voices floating through open windows while cooking dinner, but here no one dared to stop and eavesdrop. It wasn’t done. For listening pleasure the conversation was muted scudding below the dull drone of the backdrop television sound. The mottled shadows of the branch overhang, the glistening droplets on the just sprayed foliage, and the aroma of the decaying leaf litter.  I’m starting to be there, that place, those moments that time.

And yet frankly I wasn’t there. I lived sixty miles away in industrial Geelong, a town, declining as its car maker, wool spinners, and educational institutions watched vainly. Their jobs went to cheaper countries somewhere but here. My house was in a tiny little dead end called Cogens Place, on the margin of the Geelong CBD, a once grimy workers area, fearing oncoming gentrification, well placed twixt the beachfront and parklands. I loved that little place, one and quarter bedrooms with sloping back veranda covering laundry and enclosing the other outside dunny. Yes, so old yet sporting two dunnies, how chic I felt. I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough, when shown by the real estate agent. I’d spent two nights in the car after being turfed out of the local motel, They’d over booked me for a regatta weekend when I had arrived from Queensland … but that as they say is another story. In fact ‘if memory serves me correctly'[My tribute to The Iron Chef] I also spent some nights living at bay side Port Arlington, which now comes to mind. The place however deserves its own zinger.

I’m unclear how we got here, internet most likely. I can recall  a vegan café on second thoughts a restaurant, on the wharf at St Kilda, seafood at Mordialloc, doesn’t that name conjure more than the place really, Moor-dee-al-oc.

And over time we feel for one another. She had married well, very well, nineteen years earlier. In those days they were unable to have a kid in a petri dish or baked elsewhere. They adopted a Korean girl. Perhaps this lead to their greater sexual dysfunction over time, which I gleaned from deeper and deeper conversation.

She and the lass lived together in this redbrick idyll, the father elsewhere, financially well supportive though divorced many years earlier. The girl had matured beautifully into a gorgeous svelte gymnast. We enjoyed weekends together when I made the Friday night drive up the northbound highway, away from industrial grim.  The birthday parties in somewhat up market surrounds. I felt slightly out of place. A Cirque de Soleil performance in the centre of the city.

We listened to CD’s and cooked fusion dishes. And at the back of the collection Leon Cohen. My Lord Leon Cohen. That gravel mourning dirge of meaningless tripe. It was played over and over. I enjoyed it then as now, muted.

Times change, and an argument to 4am one Sunday evening capped off  the relationship. It was time to leave, time to wish our time together goodbye. Looking back I can’t remember the argument details, but I do recall that we hacked over the same ground over and over from 10pm.

So I wondered less and less over the next week. I settled into the routine of work trying to find reasons for the factory’s poor performance, analysing reams of figures to glean some meaning from data. Each night leaving the office with yet another conjecture and arriving the morning after, sometimes with a new possibility.

I was closing in on a solution one morning when there was a knock on my partially open office door.

“Yes, what is it?” I mumbled without turning around from my flickering screen.

“These are for you, I think” said Karl, as he proceeded to set down the large bunch of flowers on my table. He maintained a snide knowing look as he slipped back out into the corridor. The flowers were from Mary, a large scented bunch, with a card, Surely Karl had read the note. How to respond? Well certainly not to Karl.

A week later another bunch, arrived delivered down the long corridor to my office by the receptionist I never knew we had. These flowers were the prickly long lasting type made of Australian natives. It was time to strike back, I plonked them fair square in the centre of the wooden conference table dominating my office. Of course I placed them on a place mat to save the varnish, but dominate the room they did. They lasted longer than the first week’s scented floral tribute. For something like three weeks, enough time for the next delivery to arrive. A smaller bouquet, more posey like I felt, more like a going away present. It soon decayed and ended up in the bin after a few days.

After this there were no more. No flowers no colour no calls.

Paul

I came to this town pursuing a job. A state head office job, up in the clouds, but how was I to know. My first taste of the Public Service.  A place where if the staff was halved the productivity would double.  The world of this template, that form, this way of addressing the public, that way of avoiding the issue. It was grouse. I loved learning it all, being just one page ahead of the game, trusting gut and instinct to patch over where daylight shone through holes in my self-belief. Phwee, there were some close calls. Minutes produced moments before a meeting.

When applying for the role I’d no idea what was expected. Thirty years in private industry was no preparation. The phone interview set the scene. Sitting in the lush greenness of Coffs Harbour, I can still recall the fax cluttering twenty minutes before the telephone conference with the scenarios which flummoxed me. They, each of the interview panel would ask one of the set pre-sent questions. I would provide my verbal version of my prepared answer. Hhmm.

I knew none of the panel. The questions were just the starter and I guess the panellists formed an opinion based on the style of answers. Much later on I found out Q thought my answers were great, I knew my stuff, and I’d challenge the culture but that I’d have some challenges fitting in with public service mindset.

For the first two years I ground away writing minutes at meetings of the incomprehensible with folk I barely knew and who was who. Working in the office of the Chief Poo Bah meant our office had a certain status and the policies we worked on were state wide. Did this matter to me? Not really. I carried out the will of the high level committee I worked for and sought the information requested never really understanding just how much pain such requests inflicted on the regions. One of these regions was Q’s where he worked as a quality and safety consultant. Whilst in the same field we were often at odds. I listened carefully to his arguments and vast knowledge of cases which he’d accumulated from dealing with the incidents and complaints from all over the state. We looked at the analyses and recommendations. However, it was in an analysis we jointly performed which showed me where his passion for a role shone through. Q’s database skills and memory of events put the client at the centre of each analysis. His frustration was clear as the recommendations piled up unactioned.

The time came as inevitably for us to be restructures. The edifice of a head office was dissolved and I was moved out to the regions, in fact Q’s region and luckily into his department. I got to see firsthand the strength of his ability which I’d come into conflict sometimes over the past two years. Slowly I took on some of his functions. A process of osmosis, a process of argument and resolving ethical dilemmas. My understanding of a life dedicated to serving others grew and whenever there was a concern in my mind, I found it best to step back and learn how the issue might be otherwise handled. Something for me to learn after a lifetime of always having an answer or at least appearing to have one.

Q took on a leader role, unpaid in job grade yet paid the inevitable price. Unsupported from above he became grist in the mill of management indecision. It was a wearing time. No training, personality mismatched, a role far removed from his people abilities and analytical strengths. He crumpled. I watched as he slowly slid under. Chronic ill health was the result. In desperation he took a role at lower pay away from his intellectual love to re hone his practice with oldies. And he loved it, slowly slipping into a role he felt he might enjoy but grew to love. It’s been powerful to see his transformation, to see someone I once feared, then admired then became friends with. As for me I’m doing his role, the role I was originally opposed to. That’s life.

The Big O

RAY O

He was a stern man, crumpled and stern, or so he seemed to me. As manager he had his own secretary, Hazel who Dave said could eat an apple through a tennis racquet. Me, I thought she was lovely, and over time she provided me the little tips which feed into that little compendium we all keep in the back of our minds of useful and useless information that will someday be used. Ray didn’t smile a lot but when he did it was the twisted lip smile which might be interpreted as a snarl. Perhaps he was shy, but none at the plant was his equal, ‘cept maybe Ron. Ron, who was called after by Ray as he’d passed between Ray and a couple of juniors Ray was admonishing,

“You going far Ron?”

Quick as a flash, Ron turned in his grey lab coat and responded,

“No, not far in CSR!” and continued on and out the mezzanine door.

It made an impression on me clearly. I can still see the scene, as if it were yesterday.

As one of the juniors being admonished   for some misdemeanour that day such wit would never have come to mind. But it stayed with me.

I was being asked to explain the discrepancy in stocks of plaster that had accumulated over some time. It was a tense scene.

The weeks preceding I’d been riding the crest of the wave. Weekly production rates had been rising.

“Mr O,” I’d firstly reported, “We achieved 13.6 tonnes per hour last week, and as far as I can tell that’s a record output for the plant.” I was chuffed and it showed.

“So how did you do that?” Ray said, not even glancing up from the pile of letters Hazel had left there for him to answer. I had no idea really save for good luck. There were plenty of bullshit reasons to be trotted out but I thankfully saved these.

“We’ll see how it goes next week then Poon,” he said and I was dismissed. I was Poon; there was Russo [Mario], Page [Harry], McMillan [Dave] and Smith [Richard]. None of we lower ranks warranted a Christian name so I was not offended.

The week passed, stockes were checked and I eagerly awaited Chui [Albert] to calculate the tonnes produced based on the Gyprock board output, the reject accounted for and the storage stock difference. And there it was again. Yet another week of record high production of plaster, even topping the week before.

Eagerly I reported into Ray,

“Mr O, we cracked 14 tonnes per hour this week,” my excitement barely contained. There was nothing that we’d done differently that week, but if the sun was shining then who was I not to bask in the glory.

“Really?” was all he said. I felt a little miffed that he couldn’t share in my moment of glory. I was on top of the world. Such moments of triumph were rare, and though I didn’t know the reason why I really didn’t care.

The next week the plant was running well. The phone call from the foreman’s office seemed routine,

“What that? You’ve what!” I retorted.

“Yes we’ve run out of plaster” Tony replied. Tony was a recently promoted leading hand. Faithful in a puppy like way, he always aimed to please. A few weeks earlier he’d called me at home desperate for support.

“The plant’s stopped,“ he reported. I figured it must have otherwise why on earth was he ringing me at home?

“So what’s wrong?” I asked.

The line was quiet for a moment.

“Um, er, there’s something wrong somewhere” was his unforgettable reply. This became my mantra for many years whenever technical difficulties beset me I could always start problem solving steady in the knowledge that I’d always find somethig wrong somewhere.

Clearly there was something wrong somewhere right now I thought. Had we overused plaster?

‘Go check the bins back up the line then” I said.

“But we already have, they’re all empty” he said.

“What do you mean they’re all empty? Have you given them a good whacking on their shells to make any hang-ups fall, are all the vibrators on?”I asked.

‘We already checked’ he replied to my sinking heart.

“There’s gotta be plaster in the silo, what does the silo meter read?” I shouted.

“125 tonnes” he said,

“Well then there is plaster see!” I grouched.

I raced out to the silo. It was a massive construction on the tarmac in front of the large warehouse. Built of three steel rings the lowest of which was concrete filled as a foundation and two rings above each capable of 150 tonnes of plaster storage. A total storage of 300 tonnes. The top of the foundation layer had three airslides arranged to promote the flow of plaster into the production building.

It was an otherwise balmy day on top of the silo when I arrived. The steady whoosh of the pneumatic air-blasts cleaning the socks in the dust collector was all I could hear. The vacuum created from the dust collector made lifting the metre by metre silo lid impossible. I had the dust collector turned off, the noise subsided, the vacuum dropped and I eased the lid open.

Peering into the gloom I couldn’t see the bottom. Down I went and got and got an empty sample can from the laboratory and a long length of twine. With one end of the twine jammed into the sample tin lid, I lowered the tin into the darkness. Down and down it went. Firstly it was deeper than I thought it should be and then I swung the pendulum from side to side and then in a conical arc. The tin occasionally bumped on soft plaster, but for the most part it hung free. I realised that over the airslides the plaster had run out of the silo for use, however between the slides the plaster had lain for ages and sat there like a little Himalaya range for years.

I marked the twine at t deepest pit and then retrieved the can.

At the edge of the silo I dangled the plumb bob on the outside of the silo. It reached all the way down to the top of the first welded ring. The silo was empty.

Having completed his afternoon session with Jack Longley in the warehouse office, Ray came out into the sunshine, striding into the shadow of the silo.

I shouted down to him as he glanced up.

“Mr O, Mr O, the silo’s empty!”

And without breaking stride he replied,

“And there goes your record production rates.”

For years later many production trainees benefited from my embarrassment that day. They were always told to physically check stocks and not rely on the meters which had let me down so badly. The silo meter had lost two of it three counting magnets so that it was falsely recording only a third of the vacant space in the silo. The 120 tonnes recorded should really have been 20 tonnes.

Concord Plaster Mill has gone now, but not the lesson I learnt that day

Passing Aunty

Apparently it was 2011. I’ve forgotten the exact date. Vague shadows of memories started to coalesce. Fragments fleetingly recollected, of the cramped student studio in a pigeon holed high-rise apartment, the gaunt Indochinese umbrella salesman at Lidcombe railway station, then the sumptuous family wake following nibbles in the red tiled pagoda imitation shelter in the heat haze of Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney’s multicultural heartland.

But something was amiss. The western  chapel was not the same as before. The opaque narrow glass windows were shorter, though the harsh sunlight pierced them with the same soft burnt orange brown hues as it had four years earlier.

Was it really four years later? It seemed like yesterday. 

I noticed the head of the coffin faced in the opposite direction. My guess was it faced the furnace, the fiery furnace being central to the whole complex. Ah this was the eastern chapel.

The crowd was subdued and muted. It was less of a crowd than back then. I’d expected it to be larger. There were few I knew.

What is the feeling one has of a memorial crowd being smaller than expected? Is it a reality check for yourself. That the fondness in which you held the person being memorialised is not shared by others? It’s not something that can easily be verbalised. Is it the sense that the distance I’d travelled for the event seemed large compared with that covered by others more local? A kind of superiority arrogance on my part? Was it disappointment, and if so for who? A missed opportunity to pay respects, an opportunity which passes but once. Her grandkids had returned from Europe, New York and Malaysia, much further than I. 

I knew my uncle less than my aunt and her guidance to me over the years had been far greater. Had my uncle been accessorised in my mind, somehow lionised but seen only as my aunt’s extension? 

From the tributes, the esteem and love with which he was held by her shone through, married 67 years. He was her ducky. My heart was very warmed.

After a visit to the fading blooms of the rose memorial for him and their son, we departed for the same lounge room where four years earlier we’d shared in a typical Australian Chinese cook up. For me it was homely. This time though there could be no “on the way home” visit to Aunty, for her daughter an existential realisation that she was the only surviving link to her growing grandkids and the past generation. I’d had felt the same burden of being, the last survivor of a generation, perhaps a load I still bear. We live to bear witness.

Sitting at the table picking at the food I said in passing to the three grandkids,

“Been back since when granddad died?’

And they let me know that in various time frames and periods they had.

“And Mum’s been over to see us all a few times too” was the consensus,

“Do you get up here to Sydney much?” they asked.

“Yes” I replied, “probably a few times since your granddad passed away.”

“So is your wife Anne the same lady you came with last time?” asked Andrew.

At that moment past recollections and present reality separated.

Four years now seemed an eternity.

The Rochedale Brick

“There’s just the job for me” I thought, reading the ad in its display space.
“Production Manager -Major Brickworks”
I was intrigued, having no expertise in making bricks didn’t seem a problem. Slugs of clay, heated efficiently to minimise costs is all it could be. Technical skills and faith in my ability to get to the guts of a process were areas I was now confident in.
In went the application, email as I recall, then the wait.
It wasn’t long before a response to come in and see the organisation.
Out in the margins of the suburbs there were brick veneer bungalows loafing on their less than adequate blocks. All through the scarified land scape which were once once treed and shrub lined they sat, silently baking in the summer’s heat. The tumble down factory buildings echoed history passing. Partially hidden behind a more modern office block, pretending to be a brick veneer home, mini wing walls adjacent displaying the latest in bricks for potential purchasers to feel and touch while wondering wondering what their dream might be.
Parking in the dusty car park, I was shown a board room by the receptionist. Just an office, the upward glances of the workers behind the receptionist told me that going to the board room clearly meant something was going on.
I waited quietly in the empty room, took a seat by the board table and pondered.
It seemed like ages, but doesn’t it always. The elasticity of time where minutes elongate into hours and flickers of recognition absorb daylong attention.
A couple of minutes later he appeared. Suited and middle aged, seemed like a man on a mission. Having take over as general manager he said,
“Well we need someone to straighten the place out, get some new thinking in here. Seems you’ve done some turnaround work in textiles and salt.”
It was enough for me that he’d read the resume,and I knew what I’d written. Briefly I expanded where he showed interest, clearly he had an approach already forming in his mind.
He was clearly new to this area, certainly not from production or engineering.
“So tell me about you” he said after laying out his view of what was wrong with the operation he taken over in recent weeks.
I rattled off a potted summary of what I’d done since retrenchment from CSR, a blow to my confidence which I’d internalised and not really come to grips with. Even all these years later. The taxi driving, the unemployment, the worry.
I mentioned exciting changes we’d made in Brisbane plasterboard and how working with colleagues from other divisions fertilised the mind.
“The stand out for me was the self firing bricks introduced at the Darra works” I said, “They used waste coal from a seam running through their clay pit, crushed it into the pug of wet clay then only had to raise the temperature of the slug to coal ignition temperature, and the brick was self firing. They saved a fortune in gas, Joe Public loved the ‘shot glassiness of the bricks. The guy was a legend who thought of this and his technical manager Dave, a genius.”
“You know Dave, do you? He asked.
“Yeah probably one of my best mates outside the confines of plasterboard where I’d worked for, well, too long.
He looked at me.
“That’d it’d be Dave in a wheelchair, wouldn’t it ” he queried.
“The one and same” I said and then mentioned some other anecdotes confirming our friendship.
The interview seemed to come swiftly. He said there were some things he needed to check and would I mind waiting for ten or fifteen minutes.
“No, that’s fine” I wasn’t going no place after this. Most who are unemployed aren’t.
The minutes dragged, there’s only so much that can be gleaned from the photos of some past glories arrayed round the walls. A glum affair really. Rarely if ever looked at by those who inhabited the place, not understood by those like me who were clapping eyes on the display, seeking some, if any meaning in the sterile frames.
Enough time passed to allow lolling back into the boardroom chairs. Upholstered in that modern fashion which echoed past civility yet tried to equalise everyone.i lolled there, ten became, fifteen twenty then twenty five.
“Is it bad form to walk out on an interview?” I found myself silently asking. There’s only so much that can fill the void before doubts surface.
“Was it something I’d said, or worse not said”
“Whys it taking so long? What the hell’s he checking?”
No idea was my conclusion, any road “Who cares”
By now I couldn’t. The eager air of bated anticipation had expired from my chest. I was feeling as if I didn’t need to be there, well if anywhere, not here.
He appeared again, as unexpectedly as he’d disappeared.
“Sorry to have kept you so long” he explained but there were more details I needed to work out with Dave. You were right, he knows you well and it’s changed my strategy”
I was taken aback
“Changed strategy?”
I wondered what the strategy might have been before needing change, and if so what part at all did I have to play in it?
“Well you came here for a Production Manager role , but Dave says you’d be the ideal guy to work with him on a couple of major quality initiatives we’ve never been able to get off of the ground, what do you think?”
So after confirming I had worked with him, Dave and he had worked through a strategy which maximised my benefit to them and got me working alongside a guy I had always respected.
“You could work as a consultant on a three month rollover contract. Do you have any idea what you’d charge?”
“Shit,” I thought, “I’d come here for a job and was being offered a role that while less secure I could name my price”
“Can you start next Monday?” He said.
“Sure,” I said trying to calm the synapses calculating a fee.
“Send me an email with price tomorrow and you can start Monday”
“A price?” I had no idea, but somehow kept that to myself.
“Yeah, ok, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, is tomorrow ok? I’ll send you that email ok.”
We shook hands, a totally unexpected outcome, a pleasing one at that.
The next twenty four hours were a blur. Sage advice from here and there to determine a price. But soon it was settled.
I started on the Monday at Rochedale brick.