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Zero to Hero

November 4, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I forgot about finishing off the story from last week about my first job which prompted a burst of nostalgia while sipping a latte at Gloria Jeans at Bay City Plaza in Geelong.  Bay City Plaza had bought the old SEC/Powercor building a few years ago and extended the Mall and Gloria Jeans was practically sitting where I used to sit when I started work in January 1966.

My first day in the workforce was quite memorable.  It happened to be my 18th birthday, and of course, your 18th meant a driving licence.  I knew I was on a good wicket with this job when I asked them for time off to go for the driving test before I had even started work and they readily agreed.  It was a quick whip around the block for a test in those days and I soon fronted up for work in my car. 

I’ll digress for a moment.  The police used to conduct the tests in those days and they had this board with two intersecting roads and a couple of model cars stationed at each intersection.  They asked me who gave away to whom and that was easy but the next question was really tricky when he turned the board around without moving the cars and then asked the same question.  Sorry, you got me there!

I started in the Accounts section where all the electricity billing was undertaken and they said they’d give me an “easy” job to get settled.  They used to print out the major account bills in those days with an Addressograph machine.  You used one machine to punch names and addresses on a metal plate and the Addressograph was loaded with a stack of plates and used to stamp the account form.  All very labour intensive in those days and computers have taken all the fun out of it now.

You can probably see what’s coming here.  I managed to stick my finger under the machine in the first hour and gave everything from the knuckle up on the index finger a good old walloping.  Enough for me to say loudly, “oh golly”, and have everyone fly into the room to assist.  However, their primary concern wasn’t for my well-being as such and I’ll set the scene for you. 

You would probably think like me that the chances of having an accident in an office that had a reputation of Slow Easy and Comfortable would be pretty hard to achieve, but hey, someone had to do it.  This department had an amazing safety record (probably a week without an accident in those days) and were due for a safety award any day which included a dinner for the crew and spouses with all the tucker and grog thrown in.

Now along comes some little upstart who was out to stuff it up for the 23 people in that section and they weren’t about to let that happen. Someone found some smelling salts, and before I could scream another obscenity, they had my finger all bandaged and had me propped up against the wall with everyone muttering that great Aussie understatement, “She’ll be right, mate”.  Of course, if I’d gone home or to the doctor, I would have been screwed for the rest of my career so I hung in and was elevated to hero status right on 5pm that day. 

I only ended up with a badly bruised finger and a blood blister under the nail and that was soon fixed with a red hot paper clip a few days later.

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  1. june in florida
    November 5, 2009 at 2:50 am

    From reading about the machine it sounds like you couldn’t coordinate your hand and foot work, (like walking and scratching your head at the same time).Glad you got that all worked out over the years.

    June – This particular machine was only hand operated so the Wikipedia vesion must have been different.

  2. November 5, 2009 at 3:00 am

    I always make newbies count their fingers before they start working with any machine, big or small.

    I tell them if they lose one, I’ll have to charge them for it and take it out of their pay…

    Scott – Good advice. I worked in a butchers shop as a kid and I was told if I ever lost an arm on the band saw, they’d match the other one up!

  3. Thomas Houseman
    November 5, 2009 at 7:16 am

    My wood/metalwork teacher at School didn’t care if we hurt ourselves except for this statement….”If you cut yourself, DO NOT bleed on the tools, it makes them rusty!”

    Thomas – Yeah, nowadays, he’d have his arse kicked by a multitude of bureaucracy.

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