(Turn and face the strange)
Don’t want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
(David Bowie “Changes”)
I’ve been at my present job for just short of 25 years. Well and truly over half my life time. It’s hard to get my head around at times. I started my working life as a typesetter. It was an accident really. I had little clue about what I wanted to “do with my life” (as we so grandly seem to say these days) when I left school a few months before my 16th birthday. I knew two things: 1) I wanted to make money and 2) I wanted to leave home. The first was a necessary precursor to the second.
I had been working after school and during school holidays at a child care centre where, at the ripe old age of 14, I would often be left in charge of a room full of toddlers. Because at 14 I actually felt more like an adult than I do now (because ignorance is bliss yo!) I took this completely in my stride and loved it. What I loved best was the money. My very own money that I didn’t have to ask my mum for. I could do whatever I pleased with it and that feeling was bloody intoxicating. Like your average meth head, I was hooked baby.
So the year was 1983 and I was in Year 10 and there was no way in hell I was staying on. I knew the workload that the HSC required didn’t work well with the amount of partying and slacking I was intent on doing. Plus it did not work with my plan of earning money and moving out of home (see above).
Despite the protestations of my parents (who had, after all, travelled around the world and survived countless hardships to provide me with this better life and these opportunities) I was dead set on being a working girl. So my dad lined up some work experience for me at the HCF art department (because what 15 year old girl doesn’t want to do something “arty”?). Of course the art department did not involve any actual art. We produced the brochures, posters and forms required to make a paper addicted 1980s corporation run.
That was fine by me. I did my week’s worth of work experience and fell in love with working in the city. There was nowhere I felt more alive than in the city. I loved working with adults (who strangely seemed to take me seriously), I loved being productive, I loved the hubbub of the city, I loved buying my buttered finger bun at the deli downstairs for morning tea.
The work experience led to me being offered a full time job as a “junior”. Looking back it isn’t impossible that my dad twisted some arms to get me in there. It’s never been expressly stated but as a parent now I wonder…
Anyway, in December 1983 I started full time work. In those days I was keen, eager and ambitious. I learnt the trade of typesetting and finished art quickly and progressed as different technology (cough… what passed for technology in the mid 1980s wouldn’t look out of place in a dinosaur museum today) was introduced. I moved from company to company and enjoyed the people and the challenges… oh, and the money.
Sorry I’m meandering… At the end of 1990 I was working part time at a small design/type agency in Surry Hills and wasn’t really sure what it or I was all about. I was bored and listless. So when my dad told me he was starting an engineering company with his business partner and would I come work for them as a bookkeeper I couldn’t see why not. I knew little about bookkeeping (though I had done an evening touch typing and bookkeeping course during Year 10 – who remembers the Receptionist Centre Girl ads?) and double entry journal keeping was certainly amongst my considerable skill set.
January 1991 I was ensconced in our new offices in Ultimo. It was mostly boring at that stage. Just me, dad and Bob. I was lucky if I put out one invoice a month. I think we turned over about $100,000 that year. Microsoft it wasn’t. But I kept myself busy by making sandwiches for us all for lunch, soldering the occasional batch of circuit boards, getting divorced from husband #1 and bonking the graphic designer who shared our office space.
Part 2 coming soon…