Posted by: Gregoryno6 | February 28, 2010

More About – the CV.

1978-1979: Storeman at a biscuit factory in Burwood Vic. My first job out of school was on the afternoon shift; probably about a quarter of my working life has been shift work one way or the other. I remember finishing work about 1am one night and riding the pushbike home to Surrey Hills along completely dark streets because a thunderstorm had knocked out the lights. I have an idea that I turned my own lights off too as I flew down Warrigal Road. But that may just be me romanticising my youth.

1979-1981: Once upon a time, at the corner of Glenferrie Road and Liddiard St in Hawthorn, there was an old white two storey building. It was home to a leatherworks; I made sandals, belts, and bags. Nowadays I wouldn’t dare make anything more complicated than a vegemite sandwich.

I spent most of 1981 hitchhiking up the east coast, visiting Sydney, Byron Bay, and working for a time in Mount Isa. The rock crusher at the open cut ran 24 hours a day, and I scored the night shift on the coldest nights in 25 years. Only -2, but I was wearing three shirts, two jumpers, two pairs of socks, and a parka and the smallest whiff of breeze cut through it all like a knife. And then as usual I woke up at noon the next day and it was 33.
There was some work to be done with explosives there. Occasionally a monster rock would get caught in the crusher’s jaws and we had to blow it. But the windup key didn’t always work. So, there we’d be in the blockhouse, sirens roaring and the area cleared – wind, press the red button, nothing. ‘Give it another moment,’ the shift boss would say, and just when I thought, nope, a wire’s come loose, BOOM.

1982-83: Sales assistant at a bookstore in Bentleigh Vic.

1983-85: Back at the leatherworks in Hawthorn. I lived above the bike shop just across the road for a while.

1985-1990: Shift work again, making toilet paper in Box Hill. The only thing more insane than the job was the money they paid to keep you there. Which is how I survived five years in the place.
There were men who had been there twenty years or more. They’d just taken the job to get the house paid off. All those years later they owned two or three houses. They were usually into their second marriage as well.

1990-96: I moved to Perth and arrived just five minutes after Major Recession rolled into town. And I was from the east, so I was about as popular with employers as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah. I worked for a while at a chicken processing plant, then settled into a long stretch with a labour hire firm. I became one of the top men in the crew, the guy they sent in first for a new client because they knew I’d make a good impression. I worked all over Perth, doing stores work, but also labouring jobs such as unloading containers. In January, with the container outside and heated up like an oven, that’s a real fun job.
I did a few spells with the Perth Mint. Helping to move stuff around in the vault one day I picked up a tablet of white metal. ‘Silver?’ I asked; “No, platinum,’ they said. When I asked how much they just shrugged and said, “Oh, probably about $25,000 worth.” It was a weird feeling to have a year’s wages sitting on my hand in a disk the size of a drinks coaster.
And – to answer the inevitable question: no. You were searched at random by a man wearing a gun when you left each day – although the gun didn’t bother me as much as the box of rubber gloves he kept on his desk.

1996-2003: I got back into retailing, working in office supplies at two different places with a year off in between.

2003-2005: I was back with an agency and ended up being a casual for a safety equipment firm for more than eighteen months. I had one of those jobs that none of the full-timers wanted to know about: organising the daily pickups. That meant sorting through goods for three or four different trucks, wrapping pallets, checking paperwork. They wanted me desperately to go full time, but the management in the place had a collective IQ somewhere between Inept and Psychotic. I wasn’t going to be trapped.

2005-present: The safety firm finally bit the bullet and sent me on my way. I was advised by the warehouse manager that I had six weeks to train my replacement. I only mention that because he was the fourth warehouse manager they’d had since I’d started there. And the guy he asked me to train was already notoriously problematic.
After a couple of short term assignments I wound up working for a computer firm based on the campus at UWA.  I left there for another firm in 2007, but that didn’t work out. Then the computer firm asked me back because my replacement there hadn’t worked out either. I stayed for another six months and this time management found two competent people to take over from me.

I found a job within walking distance of home, which was a real treat after three years of crossing town to get to the university. But that was the only real advantage to the job, sadly, and the major disadvantage was the boss who flew over from the east coast to rant and scream at the managers. I quit after five weeks.

Today I am a low-ranking but well-regarded employee in a national firm. The branch manager leaves us to do the work, and mostly everyone pulls their weight. There haven’t been many times when I could say I had the ideal workplace, but this is certainly one of them.


Responses

  1. And I was from the east, so I was about as popular with employers as a ham sandwich at a bar mitzvah.

    The west and the east don’t get along so well?

    • It started way back, more than a hundred years ago. WA had a gold rush in the 1890s and suddenly a lot of men from Victoria and New South Wales were arriving in Kalgoorlie. They were nicknamed t’othersiders.
      Later on, a lot of local firms were bought up by larger businesses based in Melbourne or Sydney. The executives sent over as managers were called ‘wise men from the east.’
      In the first six months I was here I heard the story several times of how WA had tried to secede from the Commonwealth. I got the impression that this had happened during the 1970s, or possibly the 60s. Well, no. Not quite – try 1933.
      Have you ever heard of a book by Geoffrey Blainey called The Tyranny of Distance? He was writing about Australia generally, but it especially applies to Perth. It’s as far from the east coast as London is from Moscow.

      • I had no idea about any of that at all! I need to read more about Australian history, since I know embarrassingly little about it.

  2. Well, you’re hardly unique in that. But if you’re interested, check your library for anything by Blainey. I’d also suggest The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, but that is very heavy going for a supposedly non-academic title.

  3. Interesting reading Mr G06. You have lead an intersting life. Many a tale to tell no doubt. May have to have another visit and hear more stories over a red or two.

    • May have to have another visit and hear more stories over a red or two.
      Now a comment like that is going to give some people the wrong idea.
      People like me, for example.


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