Earlier this week, Emma and I attended the 25th anniversary of one of her good friend’s business.
To be successfully running and growing a business like hers since 1988 is a fantastic achievement and deserves a truckload of congratulations.
Being the narcissist that I am, the occasion gave me cause to pause and remember what it was I was doing 25 years ago.
It was December 1988 and I was working as a Christmas casual at Myer’s Lonsdale Street record department. I’d finished my Year 11 exams in November and I’d started working for my cousin Dianne in her Spring manufacturing company (not a euphemism).
She got a last minute pre-Christmas order for 5,000 pull-pins for fire extinguishers. And if you’re already thinking of the Simpsons episode where Bart’s class go to the box-manufacturing factory, you’ve got an idea of how exciting making pull-pins for fire extinguishers are.
After 2 weeks or so of ‘insert, fold and twist’ (again, not a euphemism) of a pile of 20cm lengths of wire, the call from Myer’s HR people came, and with Dianne’s blessing, I stopped “wasting my days on the factory floor” – as Barnesy and Mossy instructed me to in Bow River – and began schlepping my way into their Lonsdale Street store to get caught up in the excitement and colour of ‘Myer at Christmas’.
As I’d missed the pre-Christmas induction training sessions, I was never shown how to use the registers, so my days were spent patrolling the floor and watching out for people trying to thieve (kind of like leaving the Fox to guard the chicken koop, when you think of it) and re-stocking the shelves. I don’t know why, but I loved it.
Bobby McFerrin’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was the number one selling single in the weeks leading up to Christmas and for some reason I also seem to recall ‘The Only Way Is Up” by Yazz on constant rotation in the department. The scars from having to listen to those two songs incessantly are only just beginning to heal.
“Rattle and Hum” by U2 was everywhere, and Guns N’Roses singlets we’re beginning to spread like nose candy at a Led Zeppelin concert. There was probably a raft of twee Christmas themed albums out as well, but thankfully, my mind appears to have erased these from memory (with the glaring exception of Yazz).
The job itself was as boring as batshit, but I loved it.
That was 25 years ago and with two notable exceptions, I’ve very rarely had jobs that I enjoyed as much as those three weeks walking around level 3 on Lonsdale St and helping people find the CD “by the guy, with the beard, who has that song that goes umm…” and countless demands from customers “to ring Chadstone and see if they’ve got it there for me?”
So I guess over 25 years, if I’ve learned one thing, it’s this; do what makes you happy. Don’t chase the money. I know far too many ex-lawyers and ex-accountants.
Emma’s friend has built her business from nothing: worked long hours, scrimped, saved and even at times (in the early days) took on ‘night’ jobs just to keep the lights on. Because she was doing what she loved, she doesn’t bat an eyelid when she says it was all worth it.
You’ll never get that time back. Do something you won’t regret wasting it on.