When I first started to bore you to tears with my reminiscence of Shay Gap I told how ‘Paddy’ my predecessor was pulling around 4 a week and was slopping bucket loads of spillage down the gurgler, but the company didn’t care they were happy with the figures he was giving them; in a way this meant a problem for me.
Naturally I decided to keep the same figures going through to Perth for the time being just to see how things panned out. Trouble was I was making around $8.00 a keg more than Paddy. Every morning after closing up from the early session I’d do my books and then slip over to the bank and bank the previous nights and that mornings takings.
Now here I was at the end of a week having banked enough to cover more beer than I’d shown on my returns. How can I put this simply? Paddy had been selling say 4 kegs for a return of roughly $310.00, I was getting and banking for 4 kegs $330/340; so I actually had roughly a half a keg of beer for every four I’d pulled over. I had no inclination to skim the extra off the top for myself although it would have been the easiest simplest thing in the world, So what to do?
Come my first Friday night and I had more than 9 gallons of beer up my sleeve, so I turned on beer on the house for the best part of half an hour, the customers didn’t know what hit them, have one on the house was unheard of, I reckoned I had around a gross of pots (10oz) to give away. From then on I knew what to do with my excess beer.
I never did it the same time or day I’d been around too long to be caught by the freeloaders, those that only come in when they know that they’re going to get something for nothing. I’d wait ’til I reckoned on having a keg up my sleeve and then tell my casuals to start the happy hour.
They really were happy hours; free beer not reduced price beer. And nobody knew when I was going to spring it!
I forgot to tell the township manager what I was up to, but I didn’t suppose he’d care, he was more than happy with the figures he was sending down to Perth and was probably taking credit for it but I didn’t mind; he wasn’t getting under my feet.
Getting back to my doing the banking of the takings, I’d get over to the bank right on opening time and usually there’d be one or two maybe more of my customers waiting to do their banking. Banks being banks they kept the same hours up there in a desert mining town as they did in the city 10am -3.00pm Monday to Friday, which was ridiculous, The supermarket was the same, and that was run by Poone’s they did a 9 to 5 back then.
These hours may have suited the married men, their wives could do the banking and shopping but for the single blokes and there was literally hundreds more who worked 7 days a week 12 hours on 12 off it wasn’t so easy.
Anyway one morning I said to a couple of my boys, “look fella’s, if you like I’ll do your banking for you and you can pick it up in the afternoon before going off to work, just stick your stuff in an envelope I’ll hand it over to the tellers and they can do what you want and shove it back in the envelope”, ” They said “Are you dinkum?” “I said “Why not? I don’t want to know your business so I’ll just be the pick-up and delivery boy“.
They gave it a bit of thought and must have discussed it with many of their workmates; from that day on I became the banking messenger for many of my customers.
This gave me another thought while I was over there at the bank, the bank and supermarket were in the same building and I went to my opposite number, the Poone’s man in the store, (I hadn’t met him before, he wasn’t one of my customers. Did his drinking only at the ‘Club’ ) I told him what I’d suggested to the workers re their banking and then told him that I had plenty of space and room over at the “Wet’ and if he liked I’d carry the magazines (Playboy’s and suchlike girly magazines) and he wouldn’t have them displayed all over his store for the women and kids to see.
‘What do you think of that idea?” says me “Sounds good” says he ” how about taking some of the other lines too” says he; “like what?” says me (this is getting monotonous) “soap, shaving gear, stuff that single blokes need” says he, I said “fair enough let’s give it a whirl” So we did!
My bar became not only the men’s drinking hole but their bank and store and post office, there was no need for them to ever go anywhere but my “Wet” canteen, my sales went way up, and I never had less than one casual working for me the whole time I was open.
I’ll save up for another time the business of the “girly magazines, my boys and the sergeant of police”. I mustn’t forget too, to tell about the great beer delivery disaster, rivalled only by Bristow’s “Great Tea Trolley Disaster of ’67”