The day I met Martin

January 6, 2017 § Leave a comment

At the end of my second year at Mallalieu I marched up and down Sherwood Road knocking on doors for a summer job. I needed an excuse to stay in the city over summer and leave the country behind. I wanted to call Brisbane home for good, and this was my poorly-aimed shot.  I pressed my resume into a neat folder, dressed in my best guess at office attire and rehearsed a polite, earnest offer of work.

Which failed. After numerous rejections I slumped in the corridor on the first floor of an office building and considered my options. Tramp down the hill defeated and leave town yet again, or try something crazy.  I walked into the very next place of business, took in a towering, horse-faced receptionist called Philippa and the words “Body Corporate Services” stuck to the wall behind her.

In an airbag-like burst of entrepreneurial vim I demanded to see the manager. Lucky for me she was curious enough to fetch him.

“I’ve just finished my second year of a Law degree and I could make a BIG difference to your business this summer!” Without the slightest idea what that business was. I regurgitated this offer right on their floor mat like an optimistic pet.

The boss, Martin, blinked at me with bemusement and said “Oh, you would, would you?” and gave me a job on the spot. I was almost 19 and had never seen a payslip.

I spent that summer preparing and lodging by-laws for apartment buildings.  No parking, no noise, no sub-letting. The job gave me my first overnight business trip, an assignment that I could not possibly have taken more seriously if I had been sent to the UN to broker world peace. Actually it just meant that I took a bus (two buses; I had to change) to Noosa to sort out their by-laws. No pets, no garbage, no swimming. My travel allowance paid for a three-star motel and a meal at the Reef Hotel and I kept every receipt. I like to think that my colleagues in the Noosa office admired my calm dignity and big city smarts while I attacked their by-laws, but I was probably an enormous sore.

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