When I was younger and on school holidays, Dad would take me with him to work for the day. It would be the highlight of my school holidays because I got to spend time with my dad and be on the road in the ute. Our day would comprise of going to meetings from building to building in the Brisbane CBD. I loved walking into an empty tenancy floor in a high rise building and looking out the window to see the view.
My favourite building was Waterfront Place because at the time it was the tallest high rise in Brisbane and had fantastic views of the Brisbane River. To this day, if I ever need to do work with dad in a high rise, I always make sure I get a good look out the window and enjoy the view even if it’s for a minute.
Haven’t times changed since I was a little girl. There is no way a child could be taken onto an empty tenancy floor due to Workplace Health and Safety. Twenty years ago, no one cared and I never felt unsafe because I was always with my dad and it was generally just an empty floor.
I remember builders and project managers would ask me whether I wanted to be a plumber just like my daddy and I would aptly reply ‘no way’. How ironic I work with him now doing just what he does.
Interestingly though, these work days with dad taught me some key life skills that I never realized I learned until now.
The first one was to be organized. In order to go to work with dad, I would have to get up early. We had to leave by 6am (back in the 80’s and 90’s there would be no traffic at that time of morning in Brisbane – again how times have changed!), or sometimes we would have to leave home earlier to pick up gear from Reece at Salisbury and deliver it to our plumbers at different work sites. Getting up early on my school holidays was hard. But I did it because I didn’t want to miss out being with my dad.
The second one was learning how to answer my dad’s mobile phone and take a message. Mobile phones were the size of bricks back then! Again laws about leaving children in vehicles has changed, but back when I was little, if dad needed to pick up a fitting from Reece or do a quick delivery, I would stay in the truck and dad would leave his phone in the hands free console. If it rang I would take down the name and number for dad to return the call. Sometimes I think dad did this just for his own sanity because his mobile would ring as often as a call centre!
The third life lesson was learning how to be patient and entertain oneself when bored. Once all the meetings for the day were finished, dad would then head back to the office to do paperwork. This was at a time when he worked for Col Jones Plumbing which was owned by Formula Interiors. Dad would give me my own desk while he would do estimating (quoting) and draw up plans by hand. There was only so much drawing and photocopying a little girl could handle so I would walk around the office and talk to the secretaries.
My dad has often said to me how he regrets missing a lot of my childhood and teenage years because he worked long hours. But my fondest childhood memories were spending time with him at work. Dad and I would have the best conversations in between driving from meeting to meeting and I have never forgotten our lunch dates at McDonalds on Eagle Street Pier. Happy Meals were the payment of choice back then for a day’s work with dad.
As I reflect on those days with my dad, I get nostalgic. Brisbane city holds a lot of good memories for me and while dad and I rarely work in the city centre anymore, the times that we do work in a high rise, I remember those days when I was a little girl, happily holding my dad’s hand thinking how grand it was to be in the city and how lucky I was to be able to go to work with my dad.