Sunday, May 13, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights...Chapter Four

The saddest thing about leaving Gympie had been leaving my cat, “Cat” behind. He was a large ginger fellow. I could never think of a name to suit him, so I’d christened him “Cat”. I loved him dearly. Every afternoon when I arrived home from work, he would be out on the footpath to greet and meet me. “Cat” managed to tear my heart apart the day I left Gympie. He walked right out to the roadside curbing with me when my “lift” arrived to whisk me away to my new world. “Cat” knew. Mum and Nana wouldn’t let me take him, which probably was the wisest thing to do, but that didn’t ease my pain of parting with him. Throughout my life up until then, I had always had a cat. Now, I had to leave my mate behind. It was a bittersweet parting. I was happy being on the brink of a new life, but sad to be leaving my friend of many years.

Settled into Brisbane, all that had been familiar to me was now in my past. I had a new home, new “housemate” and new job with new friends yet to be met. I had my independence.

“R” was busy with his job as disc jockey with Colour Radio 4IP, so I saw little of him during the week and sometimes weekend promotional radio work also interfered with our time together, but at least we saw more of each other than if I had stayed in Gympie.

My departure from Morris, Fletcher and Cross came with little or no fanfare. I would not be missed after such a short tenure with them. Although, I did run into my ex-boss, Tony Atkinson a few years later and he remembered me.

My entrance into Kolotex Hosiery Australia caused little or no fanfare either. With only John Trimmer and me in the office there was no need for streamers, bells and whistles. They came later!

Kolotex manufactured the first panti-hose in Australia. In fact, Australia produced them before the US did, as well. We were on top of the ladder (pun intended) in the hosiery stakes. I loved my new job from Day One. John Trimmer, a gentleman in all senses of the word, was out of the office a great deal of the time visiting retail customers. I enjoyed working alone. Not having others around me was of no concern. Within a few months the status quo was to change.

A couple of weeks after I commenced my new job, a tall, very attractive young woman, a few years older than me, walked into the reception area. She introduced herself as “Shirley Trimmer”, my boss’s wife, who was towards the end of her first pregnancy at the time.

Politely, I said, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Trimmer.”

She laughed, ordering me to call her “Shirley”, which I have from that day forward. As the years unfolded, Shirley and I forged a strong friendship. Shirley and I have remained very close friends to this day; however, a lot of water has gone under the bridge in the intervening years, so I had better continue along with my story.

Previously, I’ve related the tale of visiting Shirley in hospital just after she gave birth, but I will repeat it here for those who may have missed its first airing.

Not yet 21 years old, I was “treading on unfamiliar territory”. My old enemy, “shyness” had a bad habit of reappearing when in the company of strangers. Shirley was still a stranger to me, plus she was my boss’s wife. I had only met her on that one, brief occasion in the office, and at the time, she had been towards the end of her pregnancy. The night before my impending visit, Shirley had given birth to a beautiful, bouncing baby boy. His birth was about six weeks after that first brief meeting between his mother and me. The proud new father suggested it would be a nice gesture for me to visit the hospital during my lunch break to spend a little time with Shirley and to view their newborn son, “Gavin John”. At that point in time, Shirley was fairly new to Brisbane, too as she and Mr. Trimmer had relocated from Sydney to Brisbane less than twelve months earlier, and her husband knew she was without many friends in her new city. Feeling I couldn't decline an edict from my boss, off I went alone, to St. Andrew's Hospital in Brisbane. New to the city, I had no idea the location of the hospital, but fortunately the taxi driver did!

Upon arriving at the hospital, I wished I was somewhere else or the chore ahead of me was over. I'm like most people, I guess. I hate hospitals. I lose my identity every time I set foot in one, which isn't often, fortunately, by my choosing. In trepidation, I walked quietly down the corridor, praying I wouldn’t slip on the highly-polished floor, diligently following instructions of the sign that said "Maternity Ward"! Neither looking right nor left for fear of disturbing patients or appearing rude, I eventually found the allotted room.

Stepping inside, I came upon four or five people gathered around the bed…more strangers! They turned and greeted me warmly. I smiled bravely, returning the greetings of the new mother and her welcoming visitors. I started to open my mouth to utter the expected utterances, when out of the corner of my eye I spied a face I recognised peering around a screen dividing the two beds in the room. I hadn’t noticed the screen when I first entered the room, too overwhelmed by the myriad happy faces there to meet me. I looked at the beaming face poking out from the screen to the new mother in front of me with whom I'd started to exchange pleasantries! A person who, by then, probably thought I was a friendly, well-meaning visiting Salvation Army “Sister Josephine” or whomever. Shirley, who I was supposed to be visiting was in the other bed, peeping out from behind the screen.

I withered. I wanted to disappear out of sight, and the world, forever! Embarrassment didn’t begin to describe how I felt. I begged Shirley not to mention to “Mr. Trimmer” my unforgettable, unfortunate entrance. I couldn't stand the thought of them laughing behind my back at my blunder! I felt so silly. The only thing missing from the scenario, I thought, was the piece of straw from my mouth. What a “hayseed” I was, I berated myself! Shirley vainly tried to appease my feelings of desperation. I feigned her kind words had put me at ease.

After Shirley and I exchanged small talk, “Gavin John” and I had our first introduction. He was beautiful. He looked like a three-month old baby, perfect in every way. Peacefully, he watched in wonder at the world around him, a fine coating of blonde baby hair atop of his perfectly-formed head, chubby cheeks and big blue eyes. I was immediately smitten.

As soon as I arrived back at the office, I went to see Mr. Trimmer. I told him the complete woeful tale of my embarrassing botchery! He was very understanding and gentle towards my fractured self, while laughing uncontrollably inside, no doubt, I thought! He wasn’t, I discovered later. He empathized, knowing what I was going through. In the years that followed, the story was repeated often and became a “family joke”. There still remains a laugh or three in it to this day and it’s frequently brought up in conversation.

So my life settled into a smooth routine for a while. “R” and I saw each other a couple of times a week, when possible, and on weekends when he wasn’t doing “outside broadcasts” or other radio promotional work. Sometimes I accompanied him to such events, other times I didn’t. Late one Friday afternoon, I caught a train to Ipswich to meet up with him. As a representative of Colour Radio 4IP and one of the “Colour Radio Good Guys”, “R” was to “crown” the “Miss Rosewood” at the Rosewood Ball. Rosewood is a tiny country town a few miles out of Ipswich. The invitation to the ball had been extended to me as well, being “R’s” fiancée. I’d managed to coerce a dozen or so pairs of stockings and panti-hose as an additional prize for the winner, by explaining to Mr. Trimmer it would be an excellent advertising opportunity for our product. He agreed. Upon our arrival at the ball and to our surprise, “R” and I were treated like celebrities. The “red carpet” was out and “nothing” was “too much”. The ball organizers hovered around us, ensuring we had anything we wanted. It was a fun, unique experience feeling so “important”, if only for a few hours! We were quite taken aback by their genuine generosity of spirit.

Dawn, my flatmate, and I got on well together, not that we spent much time in each other's company. Most of the time, we were busy within our own lives. One evening, a few weeks after we'd moved into the flat, I met Jack, her fiancee, when he called by our flat to pick her up for an evening out. As he hovered around the front door, waiting for Dawn to ready herself, I tried valiantly to make conversation with him but it was an almost impossible feat. He had "John Wayne/Clint Eastwood Syndrome"...he spoke in monosyllables! After three or four attempts to invite him into the lounge room while he waited, I finally gave up on him, letting him remain where he seemed most at ease, standing on the unlit balcony.

Always one who becomes suspicious if life runs too smoothly and happily, I thought things were almost too good to be true, but pushed the thought from my mind, not wanting to rock the boat. My life had settled into calm waters with blue skies above; as if on cue that was to change all too soon. Dark clouds were forming on the horizon. The thunder had not yet made its presence known, and I’d not noticed the clouds.

22 comments:

  1. Hi Lee, you have some duplication you might want to fix in this post.
    Another "link" in our lives, Julie and I owned and operated the Caltex SS in Rosewood for about 3 years, a great little town.

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  2. I have read it all, including the duplicates! I did laugh though (sorry) about the hospital blunder...and now, the story is about to get a little more 'dark'...exciting!

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  3. I'm sorry about the duplication, Peter and Rebecca...I wrote and posted this hurriedly this morning before going out for the day. I'm glad you enjoyed it, notwithstanding. :)

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  4. Oooh, dark clouds on the horizon...I can't wait for the next installment!

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  5. And not a raincoat in sight, Robyn! ;)

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  6. Oooh, great story, Lee. Looking forward to the next bit .. you have me intrigued !!
    Take care, Meow

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  7. Dark clouds were forming on the horizon. The thunder had not yet made its presence known, and I’d not noticed the clouds.

    Super story so far. Sounds like a thriller is developing.

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  8. utoh...darkness looms on the horizon huh? not a good sign !!

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  9. have loved reading this.. cannot wait for the next bit but think it may include some sadness which always upsets me.. :-0

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  10. Hi Meow, keep your eyes peeled, there's much more to come. :)

    Hey there Steve....stop biting your nails!

    Deslily and Sally, great to see you both...I hope you hang in here for the rest of the story....

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  11. I just printed pics of the two kits for Stormy to take to work tomorrow, and for me to take to the Vet with them tomorrow. It is amazing how much they have grown in only a week or so. Today, Stormy was back to work, and the kits shadowed me everywhere I went. I'm not used to being checked out in the bathroom. Pixie came scooting in when I was going to shower this morning, and jumped in the shower/tub. She was off like a rocket when I turned the water on. I laughed so hard that I had to sit down. Specks, the little boy just sat there and took it all in.

    For those of you who wonder what I am babeling about, here is a link to Stormy's blog, or click on Lee's link to Stormy above.

    http://cabinwood.blogspot.com/index.html

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  12. Now we are ready for the next couple installments, Lee.

    P.S. EBAY said the Cobra was non returnable.

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  13. Ah...you're going to have so much fun with Pixie and Specs, Marc (should be Spicks and Specks! ;)] They love company so they won't be far from you.

    They're a wonderful little things. I commented in Stormy's blog not long ago. :)

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  14. Saw your comments Lee, Thanks.

    And yesss!! we are having fun.

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  15. Shall we prepare to watch a train wreck??
    Interesting stuff here Lee. Well done. Get on with it girl.

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  16. I will! I will, Cliff! ;)

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  17. Lee, it's TTFN for me now. It will be a busy day for me tomorrow, hearding cats. At least they like the pet carrier for now. May change after the Vet visit though. Our last cat hated the vet trip. She came unglued at the sight of the pet carrier. We will see.

    G'nite from us.

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  18. Good night, Marc and Stormy. :)

    All the best with the trip to the vet...make sure he checks the kittens out, and not you! ;)

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  19. I will admit that this installment was really good, with the red carpet treatment and all and the funny story at the hospital. Dark clouds make me sad so I will get my Kleenex ready for the next one. Great writing.

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  20. Hi there Sandra...keep posted. :)

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  21. Great story, Lee. Love the "ladder" pun! Laughed at the hospital story. Hard to imagine you being shy but often seemingly confident people are. I can imagine your agony at leaving the cat. Oh, I'm worried now about the dark clouds so am going to read the next part..

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  22. I'm outsmarting the cliff hangers now by waiting until you have posted more than one chapter before I read. Of course, I'm not so smart, if you end the next chapter in a cliff hanger. Off I go to the next one...

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