Monday, April 22, 2013

Monday Mayhem - I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go

I left school at the end of 1973 and started working for The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd. It started off being an OK job, nothing to write home about, but after only three months they decided to move me from my home branch and put me on the counter at on of the busier branches in a major city, without proper training, and I struggled. I made plenty of mistakes and the management didn't seem to understand why. After about three months I was moved again, this time to a small sub-branch where I was in a jack-of-all-trades position, relieving the teller when he needed a break, updating the savings account ledgers (which was done by hand) and the cheque account ledgers (which was done by typing the information on a machine). I still hadn't had any real training and I still kept making mistakes. The crunch came when I said the wrong thing to one of the customers (I didn't realise it was wrong at the time) and I was asked to leave.

As first jobs go, it wasn't a great start.

My second job wasn't great. I was filling boxes and packing shelves in the grocery section of a local department store. It kept me busy and paid the bills, so it wasn't all bad. While I was working there I did get to opportunity to work with the TV technician, who was looking to take on an apprentice. I was kinda hopeful that I would be looked on favourably for that position but I think he already had someone else in mind, and when they became available I was sent back to the grocery department.

After getting my drivers license I started looking further afield for jobs and got a sales assistant position at a jewelry store in Canberra. There were times when this job looked pretty good but I was encouraged, by friends and family, to sit the Public Service entrance exam and my employer got wind of this and I was once more asked to leave.

I did eventually get a position in the public service and worked in one department for almost 5 years. I got moved around a couple of times but never seemed to be able to get a promotion. I just wasn't getting anywhere fast. I did eventually get a job in a different department and it looked for a while that I might be getting somewhere. I even got some acting experience at a higher level. My heart wasn't really in the job as there are a lot of Public Servants in the Public Service and very few people that worked for the government. The trouble is that the Public Servants were generally promoted while those that were there to work weren't.

While working in the Public Service I gained an interest in home computers. These things hadn't long been on the market and there were opportunities for enterprising young people to get in on the ground floor. I had a friend who was interested in computers and computer games (especially the games) and we decided that we wanted to try our hand at selling computer software. It was decided that one of us would need to quit their job in the Public Service in order to run the shop and I, not being particularly enamoured with the Public Service, volunteered. Unfortunately, we were way under capitalised and the business went under after about 9 months. I made enough sales to pay the rent on the shop but not enough to pay me a wage and I just ran out of money.

Then came a succession of jobs, I spent some time as a cleaner, sales assistant for an electronics components shop (I still had a thing for electronics) and storeman for manufacturer of electronic equipment (again with the electronics).

While I was working as a storeman, a friend of mine was acting as something of a go between, trying to convince me and another of his friends that I would be good for the company that he worked for as branch manager, so I quit my job and went working for him, first as an operator and then as a programmer. Unfortunately, the company decided to close some of its branches and consolidate and I was once again out of work after only 8 months. My unemployment lasted all of three days before I got a call asking me if I would be will to relocate in order to continue working for the same company, and so I moved to Melbourne where I worked as an operator for about 4 years before quitting to move back to Canberra.

When I got back to Canberra I found that the two people that had conspired to get me my previous job were now working for another firm doing much the same work as the company that I had just left and they convinced me to take up a casual operator position with this company. When I wasn't busy operating the machines I was in the computer room helping the programmer with some of the simpler programming tasks until a somewhat difficult job came in. My experience programmer my home computer gave me an idea of how to tackle the task and I was given the go ahead to try. Shortly after I successfully completed that program I was employed as a full time programmer and things started to look up. The branch grew and the IT section went from 3 people up to about 7 and we were kept busy most of the time. Sometime before the WFC the company was sold off, but we kept working just as before. After the WFC business began to fade. Our customers were reducing the amount of work they sent us by increasing the period between mailings or just sending out cover sheets instead of full bills. This meant that there was less work to go around and the parent company decided it was time to let a few of its employees go and I was one of the first.

I haven't worked since so that's the end of that story, at least for now.


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