Years and years ago, when I arrived back in Hobart after being away a while, I recall it was a very hot day and so I found myself sipping a cold beer in the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Davey St, Hobart.
As you do, I got chatting to a man at the bar and we both realised we were out of work and eager to find paid employment. In walked an arrogant man who mouthed off about dole bludgers and how he had lots of jobs but no one wanted to work. The stranger and I looked at each other and chorused ‘we do!’ This put the guy in an awkward position because I could see, in his body language, he did not think either of us would be up to any work on his construction site; the construction of the new Derwent Entertainment Centre. However, he had to save face and couldn’t say no to us. I remember he threw obstacles at us but we countered each.
It was a Saturday when we met, and on the following Monday morning the stranger and I turned up on the construction site at 7.30am ready for whatever work could be thrown at us.
Mr Arrogant faced us with a new obstacle, one which he thought we could not overcome. He told us that we had to be paid-up union members even though he was only offering 2 day’s work initially otherwise we couldn’t walk any further onto the site. We made some calls and the stranger and I soon found ourselves sitting in the office of a Union boss having a comfortable chat. Accountability and compliance were not so important then, and unions had lots of unregulated powers and sometimes illegal behaviours. It is enough to say that the stranger and I returned to the construction site with our Union passes.
The Derwent Entertainment Centre is built on reclaimed land and eventually more land was built around the site for carparks, roads and walkways. At the time, the construction site was surrounded by water on three sides. Our job was to remove discarded construction material off the rocky shores and load into rubbish skips. It was hard, heavy and constant work but it was an income albeit for a short while. Since I am female, the workers on the site found they needed to be able to see me all day and wolf whistle and carry on wondering how the stranger had found me and what the story was. All immensely amusing to me. And the distraction was incredibly annoying for their foreman.
After finishing the two day’s work, we left a pristine set of rocks. We were not surprised that Mr Arrogant was unable to find any further work for us. All of us parted ways and moved on in our separate ways. I cannot remember what I did next. Guess it was not half as exciting as helping with the Derwent Entertainment Centre project.