Thursday, May 10, 2007

Reaching Out To The City Lights....Chapter Three

Monday morning couldn’t come quickly enough for me. As soon as I arrived at work and found a couple of moments of privacy in my office, I rang to make an appointment for an interview for the job I'd been told about at Saturday night's party. I'd checked out the advertisement in the weekend paper and it seemed just right for me, as Beth had said. An appointment was arranged for 1.15pm. It was difficult to keep my mind on dictation during the morning, but I managed to muddle my way through somehow, probably making up words as I went along. Legal terms become very repetitious after a while. I had already been working in the legal office in Gympie for five years, so I was familiar with most of the jargon, but we hadn’t handled many insurance cases and fewer divorces in my previous position. I was eager to shrug off the coldness and the harsh realities of the city legal world, having been accustomed to a more relaxed, very often fun-filled working life at Tozer and Jeffery, the company I had not long left behind. It had been sad for me leaving five years of friendships formed where the boss, his wife and their son treated us “girls’ as part of the family. Graham, my boss’s son was doing his Articles under his father’s guidance. He became a close friend (and still is to this day). Like me, he loved the beach and surfing, so he often gave my friends and me a lift to Noosa to “ride the wild surf”, his board strapped to the top of his car. Graham went on to take over his father’s business, which he successfully built into a much larger firm. He retired early. He and his wife now live at Rainbow Beach, a stone’s throw and a half from the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Working at Morris, Fletcher and Cross was a world away from the life I’d become accustomed to in the Gympie office. There was none of the warmth I had experienced during my first five years of my working life. I was now just a number, an unrecognized face amongst many. And to make matters worse, I was expected to join a union! That fact in itself motivated me into finding another job! I had never been a member of a union and I had no intention of becoming one.

Dressed for the occasion, I wore my “Miss Australia” pure wool Chanel suit on "interview day", wanting to impress the man who, I hoped, would become my new employer. Hair in place, high heels polished, I rushed out of my office on the stroke of one. Striding across Queen Street towards Heindorf House, my heart pounded in my chest, my stomach turned cartwheels. Reaching the top of the stairs to the first floor, I paused for a few minutes to catch my breath and still my thundering heart. Shoulders back, stomach in, head held high, just as my mother had taught me, I walked into the office a good ten minutes before the appointed time. I exuded an air of confidence that was lacking inside of me, which soon became obvious. I tried not to fidget as I waited in the reception area. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. Within minutes, Beth ushered me into a rear office.

I stood frozen to the spot, completely out of my comfort zone. It had been over five years since I’d applied for a job. There had been no interview required by Morris, Fletcher and Cross. A telephone call was made on my behalf. All I had to do was just turn up on the day I had specified. Now, I was face to face with a total stranger, without a clue as to what I was letting myself in for. My mind was both blank and in a turmoil at the same time. Was I doing the right thing? I was on my own with no one to advise me. Would I listen to advice if it was forthcoming? Probably not! Smile…put a smile on your face and try to look somewhat normal!

Reaching across the desk, I shook the hand of the stranger standing behind it, commending myself in the meantime for actually being able to manage that much.

“Please…sit down, Lee,” a well-modulated voice instructed me. The man in front of me smiled kindly. “I’m John Trimmer.” He was in his early forties, suited and well-groomed.

I somehow managed to find a chair and sat down carefully, back straight, knees together.

“Hello, Mr. Trimmer,” I whispered. Where had my voice gone?

Gently coaxing information from me, he said, “You speak so quietly, Lee. Speak up, I can hardly hear you.” I think he forever rued the day he said that to me!

The interview came to an end; Mr. Trimmer rose from his chair and walked with me to the front door, promising that he would contact me “soon”. And “soon” became soon, because mid-afternoon I received a telephone call from him advising me I had the job"When can you start?" He asked.

My new position was to be secretary to Mr. Trimmer, who was the Queensland Manager for a national hosiery company, Kolotex Hosiery. The office in Heindorf House included a small storeroom in which stocks were held to service the inner-city department stores, such as David Jones, Myer, Barry & Roberts, as well as Waltons, Edwards & Lamb and McWhirters in Fortitude Valley, together with the smaller salons and boutiques. Gresham, Down and Johnson, wholesalers, were agents for Kolotex. They, in turn, serviced all the country and regional towns throughout Queensland. The head office and factory of Kolotex was in Leichhardt, a Sydney suburb. All other hosiery manufacturers were based in Melbourne, Victoria. In those early days, the Queensland office was only a small cog in a much bigger wheel. That was to change within a couple of years.

Receiving the good news, I promptly handed in my notice to Tony Atkinson, the lawyer to whom I was secretary. As I had only been employed with the firm for five weeks, I advised him I would be finishing up on the coming Friday. I was to commence my new job the following Monday. Suddenly, everything was moving rapidly. I was happy, excited and eager to take the next step in my course of my life, a step that would continue growing bigger and longer for the next fourteen years.

News of my change in direction wasn’t accepted well by my family back in Gympie. My brother, again acting like “big brother” threatened to come down to Brisbane and take me back home, saying, “You leave home and you think you can just chop and change jobs!” He continued on with a diatribe I took little notice of, telling him to mind his own business that I knew what I was doing. He didn’t agree, but I remained firm in my resolve. My mother warned me of the dangers of “fly-by-nighters”. “A one-man-operation” was doomed for failure, taking me down with it, she repeated. I did my utmost to calm the waters, insisting I knew what I was doing and all she was prophesizing would not come into being, for her to trust me and my judgement. In the meantime, Nana said little other than, “I hope you know what you’re doing, love.”

“I do, Nana…everything is just fine,” I assured her. Nana exuded a certain calmness, empathy and wisdom. She had gone to bat for me when I wanted to leave high school to go out to work and earn my own money, when my mother argued against such a move, because she wanted me to continue my schooling, attend college and become a school teacher. Unless I won a scholarship it was a snowball's chance in Hell of my family or me being able to afford my progressing through to college. I wanted to earn money to help within our household, and of course, for my own independence. Nana was the one who talked my mother around to my way of thinking at that time. And I was certain she was doing similar regarding my latest decision. I left the appeasing of my mother and my brother to her. There was little more I could do from afar, other than prepare myself for my new job, one I knew I was going to enjoy. The hosiery company wasn’t going to “disappear overnight”, nor was I!

I didn’t know then but I was about to go on the ride of my life filled with wonderful adventures and opportunities, a ride that was to last for the next fourteen years, and one that would have a large influence on my life. A new world of big business, fashion parades, top models, television and radio and much more was beckoning.


  1. Anonymous8:30 PM

    LEE.... You get your bottom back on that chair right now and finish this story! Please... Lee?

  2. Uuuuuh, Uuuuuh, You are leaving us in suspense.

    BTW I found a 14 Ft tame Cobra on Ebay for you, It will be there in less than a fortnight, they promise. Just don't shake the box too much before you let him out...Please. It would be wise to pet him and blow in his face so he knows you in the future.

    Just kidding you know.


  3. BTW, I Lubs Ya Dagney.

  4. Well, rough weather, will check back later.

  5. Haha...Nicole...I'll be back soon...I've somehow got to squeeze fourteen years into this story! And all without boring the pants off everyone! ;)

    It'll be "Return To Sender" Marc! lol He'll probably be dead by the time he gets back to you. Enjoy those little're going to have so much fun with them being part of your and Stormy's household. :)

  6. I am loving this!! Can't wait to read the next installment!

  7. Good to see you again, Rebecca...thanks for popping in. :)

  8. All Aboard for a fourteen year ride of a lifetime.

  9. Anonymous4:34 AM

    That was some quick job hopping. Like others, I'll be looking for the next installment.

  10. Can't wait to read and learn more about you, I will be bringing my computer to Texas so I can keep up.

  11. I am sure you can put 14 years into an interesting text. Just do not HOSE US. hee hee

  12. Hi there, Peter, Steve, Shelly and Lady Di....good to see you all. :)

    It was a quick change in jobs, Steve, but well worth it. :)

  13. Top models? Hopefully you'll have more pictures to share. Modeling is actually one industry that has never piqued my interest. But with your story-telling talent, I'm sure it will be deliciously readable here.

  14. I'll see what I can arrange for you, Dave! Thanks for popping in. :)

  15. Hi lee
    Nice photos on your first chapter and I think many of us, certainly myself, relate to that feeling of “spreading one’s wings”, from the quietness and serenity of a country town to seek adventure in the “big smoke: You seemed to have found many interesting people to philosophise about life’s mysteries. I read your chapter 2 /3 and look forward to its continuance. These stories tell us much more about you without being any less entertaining, I think its part of the benefits of blogging, you can begin to understand much more of the many interesting aspects that make up our lives, who we are and what we stand for ! So thanks for sharing your life’s adventures at work, the disappointments, the characters and dates, the changes for the better and the risks for you at that time.
    Best wishes

  16. Thanks, Lindsay...there are many details left out, purposely...but the stories can remain aloft without including them, I believe. :)

  17. Lee, check Stormy's blog for new kittie pictures.

  18. Ok...shall do, Marc...thanks. :)

  19. Hi, Lee. Yes, you finish the story right now! We wanna know!! What have you got against unions, though? Funny, but my Mum used to say exactly the same to me regarding deportment and I still say all that to myself to this day if I go for an interview or important meeting! Great photos again - really evocative of the era. Also it's funny how "nanas" are always on our side, isn't it? OK, so I'm waiting....!!

  20. Wow, what do you mean I have to wait for the next installment. This is like withdraws from smoking. Which by the way I know how that feels. I love the way you write and what makes you think we would be bored. To this day I have enjoyed, been keep captive to your stories but I have never been bored.

  21. Hi Lee ~~ Great change of job, which to last 14 years, must have been a good move. Yay for Nana for her
    support. I smiled at Mr. Trimmer
    urging you to speak up!!! Did he
    live to regret that? I doubt it, as
    I feel you would be a great employee.
    Thanks for the Mother's Day greeting
    Lee, and I am sure all the laptop problems will be worked out this week. Take care, Love, Merle.

  22. Hi, Welsh...In a nutshell, I've never been a fan of the unions. I don't believe they are necessary...they may have served their purpose many years ago, but I don't believe in their philosophies or their methods. Nana helped raise my brother and me. She was part of our "household"...Mum and Nana, my brother, Graham and me. She had as much say in what we did, if not more, than Mum.

    Hi there Sandra...good to see you and that you're still enjoying the story. :)

  23. Hi Merle...You'll be happy when all the little unknowns are ironed out in your must be eager to use it. Good to see you. :)

  24. Hi Lee,

    You always knew your own mind them?

    And it sounds like you had a great nana.


  25. Hi Lee! Congratulations on your are a very prolific blogger...unlike me.

    I'm loving your serial of your youth (not very misspent, as yet). I, too, have worked in one of those huge soulless law firms...shudder...I lasted about four months, I loathed it and went and found a job in a smaller firm.

    Anyway, happy anniversary (lifts glass of wine in a toast...) to you.

  26. Hi, Janice...I guess I did...but not always was I allowed to use it! ;)

    G'day lasted a lot longer than I did...six weeks was enough for me...I think the having to clock-in and out all the time was one of the things that really annoyed me. Up in the Gympie office we kinda came and went as we pleased! lol I got a bit spoiled, I think! ;)

  27. Anonymous2:28 PM

    dear lee:

    i "found" your blog via rubber corn dog and have added you to my "favorites" so i can come back to read the rest of the story. when i realized the top post was part two i scrolled down to start reading the posts from the bottom up, which i don't often do with new blogs, but was rewarded brilliantly for that effort.

    i would really like to make "another incredibly delicious chocolate cake" but, being american, i am unfamiliar with australian cooking terms/measurements. what is meant by "dark, bitter cooking chocolate"? is this bittersweet or unsweetened or somthing else? as for the measurements ... do you know of a resource that would covert grams to cups?

    and importantly, in your next installment are you going to give any more details on dawn's split affections? inquiring minds want to know!

    also, i noted your reference to c.p. snow (am putting him on my reading list). have you previously done a post discussing books/authors you've read/are reading/recommend/consider/abhor? or if not, would you consider such in future?

    i'll come back in the next couple days to check comments for any response you may have to my inquiries. thank you so very much for brightening my day.

    karen marie (only posing as anonymous)

    keep writing

  28. Hello anonymous...try this link for the weights/temperature conversons...

    That should give you all the information you need. As for the chocolate...any good quality dark cooking chocolate will do.

    No...I've never written a post about books/authors, but may just do so one day on your suggestion. :)

    Thanks for visiting...don't be a stranger...I hope you continue enjoying my blog, Karen. :)

  29. Anonymous5:30 PM

    dear lee:

    thank you for responding to my queries!

    i spent the afternoon subsequent to my visit here looking into c.p. snow, who looks to be a very interesting and currently topical writer which of course led me to all sorts of other writers ...

    in the meantime, i'm going to work on that "another incredibly delicious chocolate cake."

    i'll be back, keep writing, and congratulations on your blogiversary.

    karen marie (only anonymous to protect the innocent)

  30. You're welcome, Karen...I'm sure you would like the writings of C.P. Snow. I hope you enjoy the cake...I wouldn't mind a slice of it right now! ;)

  31. More exciting adventures. How many lives have you lead, Lee? This sounds like another one.

  32. Gidday Lee,
    Memories of yesterday with names like Barry & Roberts, Waltons and McWhirters. I went for a job at Barry & Roberts back in the early 80's. I got the job in the accounts dept on the top floor. My goodness the only thing changed from the middle ages use of a qilled pen was to the pen in a ink well. I was the youngest there and all the other men were "old". No women in that domain. I stayed until lunch time. By then I knew I couldn't work in
    this old aged environment.