Back when I was a ‘my book tells me so’ bloke
ONE of my first jobs after I left school was a contractor for NSW State Forests working in big plantations around Urbenville, Casino and Banyabba as a noxious weeds consultant.
I had been to TAFE for 18 months and thought I knew it all and had the fluoro vest to prove it.
I was one of those "I had no idea how to do your job but my book says you are doing it wrong" type of people.
I would parade around in my RMs with clipboard in hand and tell blokes, many of them career farmers and bush workers, that how they had been spraying and logging for the past 20 years was wrong.
All because they did it differently to how I'd been taught at the one-day course I had just finished.
I was just about to learn a life lesson real quick.
The lesson came in the way of an old bloke called Lenny.
Lenny wasn't a big bloke and had a fair bit of age on his side and the rumour had it he had a fairly shady past, because he didn't have bank accounts and only took pay packets in folding money.
Lenny, he never told anyone his surname, but I think it might have been Milat or Naden, had so many earrings it looked like he had fallen over in a tackle box.
And he had fewer teeth than a turtle.
Anyway he pulled me aside after telling him there was a chance of rain, they should all go home and miss out on a day's pay.
And from there he taught me one of the greatest lessons I have ever learnt, along with one of the greatest lines I had ever heard.
"Say young fella you might have a few issues with the staff fighting amongst themselves."
"Why, what's happened?" I asked.
And without blinking and eyelid Lenny just went on.
"See those five blokes over there? They want to tie you to the tree by the creek and those other four blokes want to tie you to the tree near the road and they can't come to a group decision.
"So before they do you might want to work with us a bit more."
It was one of the best lessons I have ever learnt and changed how we worked as a group and some of the guys - even old Lenny - and I became good mates.
Lenny passed away a few years later and, from what I heard, his was one of the biggest funerals in Kyogle where he lived and some of the boys said a fair few of the crowd arrived in Armani suits and BMWs.