Sunday, February 20, 2005

Old Jock

if he's still alive, would be about 100 years old. It's not likely he's still breathing.

I met him in 1970 at my first full time job. I was 15 and employed as an apprentice radio mechanic for a company called AWA (Amalgamated Wireless Australasia). Jock worked behind the spares counter. He was (to a 15 year old) an irascible old bastard. Doubtless he was also an irascible old bastard to someone aged 60!

As the lowest of the low in the pecking order it was part of my job, at 5 PM, to roll down the shutters at the main entrance to the building. At 5PM old Jock finished his work. We both went by the same clock on the workshop wall. Jock had to wait until the big hand hit... well you know the drill... before he could put on his scarf, grab his gladstone bag and leave the counter. I had to wait until the little hand hit (and so on and so forth)... and then grab the chain and start hauling. Thus, at about 1 minute past 5 PM the shutter was almost down to the ground; and at the same time Jock arrived at the shutter. Every day we had the same argument. He'd order me to raise the shutter so he could pass through. I'd refuse. I had my orders!* He'd grumble and swear at me and stump away toward the other door. This took place every day that I was working throughout 1970. In 1971 we had another first year apprentice and that task passed to him. Old Jock probably retired in 1971 though I don't remember him departing.

The other door was 45 metres away. His counter was 25 metres along the same path. He could have saved himself 70 metres of walking every day but he preferred to spend it arguing with me about that shutter. For years that puzzled me. Surely it would have been easier to just walk the 20 metres in the other direction, pass through the officially sanctioned gate and walk back 45 metres (for a total walk of 65 metres) to be in the exact same position?

I now understand, although I still don't agree, that this was Jock's way of trying to claw back a sense of superiority over someone half a century younger. Such a pity (in retrospect) that I never gave him his much coveted prize!

*Nuremberg anyone?

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