I was beginning to regret starting up on this, again, but now that I’m getting wound up, I might even go for Part IV.
Cut out that groaning! A couple of discerning readers requested / suggested I do this. I must admit that since resuming the rechabite ramble; (make a good title for a jazz tune – not exactly a muskrat, but it’ll do) there are plenty of memories flooding back, some not so welcome; that a couple more won’t go astray; posts that is!
A few months after starting with Trinders, I got married, my best mate Doyley, of New Years Day, fresh fried trout fame, would not stand up with me as best man, he was a catholic, as was the wife to be. He practised. She didn’t! And the wedding was to take place in a Church of England. Nuff said!
No problem, my other best mate, Stan Shaw, the Kings Cross Yank, was more than happy to take over. Stan liked to run things.
Back from the ‘honeymoon’ at Surfers Paradise, straight back to work, and big changes going on in Collins Street. We were moving out and down.
From Collins Street, to Bourke Street, Collins Street, home to all major banks and businesses, fashion houses, theatres and restaurants, number one address in Australia; Collins Street, Melbourne C1. Bourke Street, home to Myers and Buckleys; That’s Buckley and Nunn.
At least Trinders owned the building, such as it was, not that big, not that wide either come to think of it, only one street number, that I can’t recall, and only a couple of storeys high, at least they owned it. Well, we all agreed a few months back, that I was a snob, at least I think we did!
The Claims Department was given the complete second floor, which would have been the third floor in the US of A,
Mr Bucknell had his office on our floor, actually it took up the full width of the front section. Mr Latham had a smaller office, and the other office the same as his, was given over to my personal typists.
I had two to keep busy, one was a very large buxom Jewish lady, who could not get enough work. Had to love the woman, she was a real tyrant!
To make it harder for me, she was given something really new; an Olivette Electric Typewriter ( I think she actually demanded it as a condition of coming to work for us), which meant I had to dictate more letters for her to type, than I had for my previous typist, the young lass who’d been killed;
I won’t describe my dictation machine, I doubt anyone would believe me! Well unless someone asks nicely I won’t!
My number two typist was a very nice, shy young girl, from Western Australia, name, Margot Devereau; who never pressured me for work, probably because she was always under pressure.
Business was bad, so Mr Latham decided we needed more staff, and hired more staff; a young Kiwi girl, her name was Tui, which is the name of a small New Zealand bird (thought I’d bung that in save you all having to go Googling); and a mature young Norwegian bloke named Kjell Leistad, as my assistant.
Tui was a friend of our switchboard operator, who was very chummy with Mr Latham; have you noticed how I still refer to him as Mr Latham? 60 years later, something wrong somewhere…..
Damned if I know why he thought I needed an assistant, think it was a bit of ‘Parkinsons Law; which he seemed very attached to / interested in for reasons best known to himself.
Kjell suggested we call him ‘Shell’; An ex Norwegian Air Force Fighter Pilot. I’ll write much more about him, another time, another post. He was a good bloke.
I must admit, he took the bulk of the run of the mill stuff off my plate. He was very good at attending to the clients, and the everyday claims, that came over the counter, the younger, young ladies, who’d normally have attended them, liked to call upon me to take over from them, and young Tui proved to be the worst, nice girl, but a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic.
A couple of months after Tui joined us, Mr Latham called me into his office, and asked me how I thought she was going, I told him quite frankly that she was useless, didn’t have a clue and walked around in a dream. He told me that’s what he thought too, so I had better get rid of her!
“Hang on”says I, “you want me to fire her?”; “Yes” says he. “You put her on, why don’t you fire her?” says me. “That’s your job” says he. “Since when? ” says I, “Since now” says he; and that’s pretty much what happened.
“Okay” says I, “I’ll go fire her, but I’ll make sure she knows it’s on your instructions!” I stormed out!
I took Tui aside, and quietly told her that, Mr Latham didn’t consider her work up to scratch, and that he’d instructed me to fire her. This reduced the poor girl to tears, no-one likes getting fired, so I told her what I thought was the best thing for her to do. I told her that I wanted her to hand me her resignation
“That way you’re not fired and I can give you a written reference, and when you go for another job the new employer rings me for a reference I can truthfully say “Tiu resigned”, not that I fired you”. I thought that was a brilliant idea.
Not sure Tui did, she went to her chum Margot Maxwell, our switchboard operator , who’d got her the job in the first place, to get her help and save her from me.
Naturally Margot M had been given the drum by her mate, Mr Latham and told poor Tui there was nothing she could do that I, yes me, had made the decision to fire her and Mr Latham could not override me. can you believe this?
Well Tui handed me her resignation and I wrote her the reference, I can still recall what I said, as I was to use this on other occasions.
“This is to certify that Tui….. has been working for Harvey Trinder since …. during this time she has fulfilled her duties to the best of her ability. She now leaves us of her own free will, and we wish her every success in her future”
Bit tongue in cheek, and ambiguous, but better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick.
Many months later I went into a bar, and there was Tui, very nicely turned out and with a group of obvious workmates, looking very well and happy. I said “Good day Tui, you’re looking well” or words to that effect, she looked at me with sheer hatred and turned away.
I was somewhat saddened and disappointed.
This is getting out of hand, way things are going we could be in for another half dozen of these rants.