Do I Have To Go Home Cos Daddy Makes Me Cry?

Tuna casserole, the windows are open, the doors all shut and the microwave turning. Lessened chance of the aroma offending the sensitive nostrils of the Y gens up the hall.
Menus exchanged on the relative merits of fish in mornay first or later addition to avoid squelchiness ensue.
Its hard to discern behind the veneer of public servantness which pervades the office the turmoil which rests ‘neath the surface.
“So how was the weekend!” A question asked every Monday of everybody. The answers range from the gushing to tell to the sneer of “fuck off and leave me stew”.
It’s a great way to start the week apart from the menu exchange above with its domestic handy hints.
“Yeah not bad, didn’t get up to much. You?”.
“Ah the usual shit with the ex and power playing over kids hours. He doesn’t even pick them up and uses his folk to see to it. Dunno what it is, the kids can tell his disinterest, but he makes out to anyone who’ll listen and also those who aren’t what a great involved Dad he is. Bullshit”
“Wasn’t expecting that” I think.
Not sure how to respond.
It’s a scene I tried hard to avoid by not broaching the subject when my kids were young. Such trouble and ultimate turmoil for all seemed clearly not worth any short term gain to anyone.
“So did it work out?” I asked, trying to downward intone indicating a decaying conversation
“Well he hum’s and ha’s, always trying to be one better. So far he’s cost me thousands, but the counsellor and court people know what he’s like even though they can’t say anything.”
“So did the handover happen ok in the end?”I asked wondering whether this short term problem was a bad dream or the full blown nightmare.
“Sure” was her answer but as she left my daughter turned to me and said,
“Do I have to go home, cos Daddy makes me cry?”


The Rochedale Brick

“There’s just the job for me” I thought, reading the ad in its display space.
“Production Manager -Major Brickworks”
I was intrigued, having no expertise in making bricks didn’t seem a problem. Slugs of clay, heated efficiently to minimise costs is all it could be. Technical skills and faith in my ability to get to the guts of a process were areas I was now confident in.
In went the application, email as I recall, then the wait.
It wasn’t long before a response to come in and see the organisation.
Out in the margins of the suburbs there were brick veneer bungalows loafing on their less than adequate blocks. All through the scarified land scape which were once once treed and shrub lined they sat, silently baking in the summer’s heat. The tumble down factory buildings echoed history passing. Partially hidden behind a more modern office block, pretending to be a brick veneer home, mini wing walls adjacent displaying the latest in bricks for potential purchasers to feel and touch while wondering wondering what their dream might be.
Parking in the dusty car park, I was shown a board room by the receptionist. Just an office, the upward glances of the workers behind the receptionist told me that going to the board room clearly meant something was going on.
I waited quietly in the empty room, took a seat by the board table and pondered.
It seemed like ages, but doesn’t it always. The elasticity of time where minutes elongate into hours and flickers of recognition absorb daylong attention.
A couple of minutes later he appeared. Suited and middle aged, seemed like a man on a mission. Having take over as general manager he said,
“Well we need someone to straighten the place out, get some new thinking in here. Seems you’ve done some turnaround work in textiles and salt.”
It was enough for me that he’d read the resume,and I knew what I’d written. Briefly I expanded where he showed interest, clearly he had an approach already forming in his mind.
He was clearly new to this area, certainly not from production or engineering.
“So tell me about you” he said after laying out his view of what was wrong with the operation he taken over in recent weeks.
I rattled off a potted summary of what I’d done since retrenchment from CSR, a blow to my confidence which I’d internalised and not really come to grips with. Even all these years later. The taxi driving, the unemployment, the worry.
I mentioned exciting changes we’d made in Brisbane plasterboard and how working with colleagues from other divisions fertilised the mind.
“The stand out for me was the self firing bricks introduced at the Darra works” I said, “They used waste coal from a seam running through their clay pit, crushed it into the pug of wet clay then only had to raise the temperature of the slug to coal ignition temperature, and the brick was self firing. They saved a fortune in gas, Joe Public loved the ‘shot glassiness of the bricks. The guy was a legend who thought of this and his technical manager Dave, a genius.”
“You know Dave, do you? He asked.
“Yeah probably one of my best mates outside the confines of plasterboard where I’d worked for, well, too long.
He looked at me.
“That’d it’d be Dave in a wheelchair, wouldn’t it ” he queried.
“The one and same” I said and then mentioned some other anecdotes confirming our friendship.
The interview seemed to come swiftly. He said there were some things he needed to check and would I mind waiting for ten or fifteen minutes.
“No, that’s fine” I wasn’t going no place after this. Most who are unemployed aren’t.
The minutes dragged, there’s only so much that can be gleaned from the photos of some past glories arrayed round the walls. A glum affair really. Rarely if ever looked at by those who inhabited the place, not understood by those like me who were clapping eyes on the display, seeking some, if any meaning in the sterile frames.
Enough time passed to allow lolling back into the boardroom chairs. Upholstered in that modern fashion which echoed past civility yet tried to equalise everyone.i lolled there, ten became, fifteen twenty then twenty five.
“Is it bad form to walk out on an interview?” I found myself silently asking. There’s only so much that can fill the void before doubts surface.
“Was it something I’d said, or worse not said”
“Whys it taking so long? What the hell’s he checking?”
No idea was my conclusion, any road “Who cares”
By now I couldn’t. The eager air of bated anticipation had expired from my chest. I was feeling as if I didn’t need to be there, well if anywhere, not here.
He appeared again, as unexpectedly as he’d disappeared.
“Sorry to have kept you so long” he explained but there were more details I needed to work out with Dave. You were right, he knows you well and it’s changed my strategy”
I was taken aback
“Changed strategy?”
I wondered what the strategy might have been before needing change, and if so what part at all did I have to play in it?
“Well you came here for a Production Manager role , but Dave says you’d be the ideal guy to work with him on a couple of major quality initiatives we’ve never been able to get off of the ground, what do you think?”
So after confirming I had worked with him, Dave and he had worked through a strategy which maximised my benefit to them and got me working alongside a guy I had always respected.
“You could work as a consultant on a three month rollover contract. Do you have any idea what you’d charge?”
“Shit,” I thought, “I’d come here for a job and was being offered a role that while less secure I could name my price”
“Can you start next Monday?” He said.
“Sure,” I said trying to calm the synapses calculating a fee.
“Send me an email with price tomorrow and you can start Monday”
“A price?” I had no idea, but somehow kept that to myself.
“Yeah, ok, I’ll get back to you as soon as I can, is tomorrow ok? I’ll send you that email ok.”
We shook hands, a totally unexpected outcome, a pleasing one at that.
The next twenty four hours were a blur. Sage advice from here and there to determine a price. But soon it was settled.
I started on the Monday at Rochedale brick.