Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blossy in Tradieland

Being a landscaper’s assistant is a little like being a student teacher. Kind of.

A bit of ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ kind of thing. And as it turns out, just like everything is a classroom can be fixed with blutak or a bandaid, everything in Tradieland can be cured with concrete or a screw.

Blossy has entered Tradieland. Yep. Walked through the magic mirror past the rabbits or whatever and here I am. A proper Landscaper’s Assistant. Or as we say in the trade… an L.A.(great abbreviation given that L.A. has incredible shopping…tangent thought… ignore it…)

With Brad the Tradie relocating his business across the nation to here in Beachvillea, I’ve taken it upon myself to act in a variety of roles. Given that I’ve got all these ‘skills’ from twenty years in the Education game (not a total waste of time that career…)and currently have not much else to do I’m quite a useful L.A. Especially when there’s colouring-in of plans to be done. GREAT at colouring in.

First and foremost lately, I’m Promotions Officer. To… you know… promote.

Apparently, a good tradie in Beachvillea is one who turns up. So, being clever at marketing, that's what we're promoting. Turning up. Seems effective too. People are genuinely surprised at times when BtT finishes their garden. A client gave him a quite expensive bottle of bourbon last week, just for finishing. Gotta love entering a low-expectation community.

Being a good eco-capitalist, I started with the old faithful method, letterbox dropping. Kind of ironic really. An eco-landscaper and an eco-store providor bombarding letterboxes with promotional material. Those who are most eco-conscious of course, have a No Junk Mail sign on their mailbox, meaning we couldn’t give them a flyer. Sometimes, when walking the beat, I’d ‘accidentally’ put one under their windscreen or poke it through the fence… really. These silly signs should say, “no junkmail unless it’s really important.” Sheesh. So extremist these people are.

So then we went all techno. Got the business on the Twitbook. Used web-footed net pigeons to create pages full of interesting eco-stuff and environmentally-responsible doovahs. Got the Google click thing going and we're practically viral.  I'm I.T. Manager you see.

I’m also ‘Business Manager’ (which means that I manage the business… clever title huh??!!!) I do all manner of exciting and unusual things. Adding up the money on the Netterweb banking is my favourite task. I also quite like phoning non-payers and threatening to sick a bikie gang member on them. I’m not sure that people in these parts are used to a chick being an L.A. though. Take this morning’s phone convo’s for example. Two tasks: order a water tank and do a quote for a limestone wall. Sounded simple when BtT said it, so Blossy waved him off to do something landscapery.

Phone call A. Mission: Order a water tank.
Me: Ohhhhh helllloooooo. This is Blossy from Planet Fabulous… yes… how are you? Yes, noice day, quite warm this week… anyhooo, would like to… ahhh yes, he’s fine, quite busy, out moving dirt. Yah huh, yes he is quite fab isn’t he? Yah huh, yep, shall tell him that… oh good, I’m glad the visit went well with your mum… mmm hmmmm…. anyyyHOOOOOO, would like to order a tank… ummmm…. Tsixteen hundred. Yaaaa, ripple thingies… torress blue… hmmmm…good, good, glad we can make one of those, client will be pleased… can I have a price for that? Yah huh doing invoice… mmmm, can be tricky… yes, he is lucky that I do it (I AM the effing business manager lady!!!!) good, good, FAB-ulous, yes, address for T1600 is 14 dolphin fin way… yes… lovely dolphins here… mmmm…yes, shame about the whaling situation in Japan, totally agree… yes I had heard they're sending asylum seekers to live near you... ANYHOOOOOOOOOOO, must go, send the bill. BYE!!!! (click)

Mental note: order tanks via email. Or courier pigeon or something.

Phone call B. Mission: Get prices for quote on limestone wall.
Him (thick Scottish accent): Lo! Lo! This is (indeterminable name… shall call him Grillpot), whatcha be wantin’?
Me: Ahhh, yes, hello Grillpot, this is Blossy Bogan from Planet Fabulous. I’m needing a quote on a whole heap of limestone blocks so that my dreadfully talented landscaper husband can build a dirty great wall on someone’s new property.
Him: Ahhghhh! A dirty great wall you say? Well lassie, best you tell me how many of the blocks ya want and we’ll go and add it up for ya then.
Me: FAB-u-lous.
Him: Warm this week.
Me: Yes.
Him: Like the warm do ya then?
Me: Oh… ummm… yes.
Him: Off to the beach are ya then?
Me: Possibly. Did you want to know how many blocks?
Him: Ohhhh yes lassie. You’re wantin’ blocks.
Me: Well. I’m terribly orge-an-ised, so I’d like two hundred of code 135356 in a plain, and two hundred of the 135352 in the bevelled. And I want them delivered to Cookerfannyyupkippanup which is out the back of over there somewhere, so best give me a delivered price. I’ll need a lead time as well, with accuracy plus or minus a day. I’m assuming that you’ll quote me trade price. I’m ringing around right now and I’d like to nail this away (like that? Nail this away? Tradie chick talk… I’ve come SUCH a long way!!!). How are we situated in getting this sorted today Grillpot?
Him: Well then, I’ll be wantin’ to write this down lassie.
Me (Oh for CHRIST'S SAKE!): Yes. You will. Sorry, I should’ve told you to get a pen or something. Live 'n' learn.
Him: Wanna tell me all that again then love? Hang on… pen… somewhere….
Me: (bang, bang, bang): Oh sorry, Grillpot, that was my head banging on the desk. You don’t have email do you?
Him: E-what? So, you want a lot of blocks then lassie or something else? Have to ring the quarry and call ya back then.
Me: Good-o Grillpot. Talk soon. (bang, bang.... bang).

Surprisingly, Grillpot and I, after some more exchanges seem to have an understanding. He confided on our second phone call (it takes three calls to find a price for 68 metres of limestone blocks as it turns out) found it unusual to be dealing with a female. So I put on my deep voice, which he liked very much (unsurprisingly) and I ‘nailed away’ a magnificent price. No idea on what really, except that I gather they are … limestone blocks of some description, and that we ‘mud’ them together to build a wall.

Which brings me to L.A. role four: Labourer.

It’s a great role this one. From what I gather, it requires one to not have any form of brain. All the blood flow goes to the muscles. And boy, when you labour for Brad the Tradie, do you discover PLENTY of muscles. My mono-ab (currently in training for swimwear season) thanked him for all the lawn-mix shovelling yesterday. When labouring, one must also be compliant. Phrases of use are, “Yes boss”, “No worries mate” and “Yep, on it”. Not once does a labourer complain, or… in Blossy’s case, get a headache, bleed from any form of wound, ask to go home, or… cry. Labourers do NOT need to go to the toilet, eat, sit down, nor do they give their own opinion (“ahhhh, reckon that’s straight? Sorry... going back to shovelling...”)

Blossy is better at roles one, two and three. Role four… not great just yet. BtT’s very generous in his feedback though, particularly when I cry. I don’t have to pull the ‘But I’m a GIRL!” card very often.

Yes, I know. It’s WRONG. But every now and then you just HAVE to pull the I’m a Girl card. When it suits.

When I was about thirteen I asked our milkman for a job. He laughed me off with a snorting type of “Hell No!” I thought it was because of my gender, so I threatened him with the Discrimination tribunal (yes, I was a very strange adolescent… I also wrote regularly to Derryn Hinch and Peter Garrett with my political concerns… stories for another day perhaps). Turned out you could actually have a vagina AND be on the milk run. Bless, I was rejected because I looked unfit and the milkman doubted my ability to run with crates for two hours a night. When he put it like that, I kinda doubted my ability too.

I do, in theory, believe that anything a bloke can do, so can a chick. But in practice it gets a little blurry. So, Brad the Tradie and I are adopting a ‘strengths-based’ system. Mainly, he’s the strength. I help out here and there and try not to whine. And I DO enjoy counting the Netterweb banking money.

How long will Blossy last in Tradieland?

Dunno. It might not be a career path, but when all the elements combine and it's a nice sunny day, not too hot, not too cold and we've just finished turning the colouring-in into a real garden, it's quite nice being a quasi-tradie. I'm learning heaps too. Like, the real meaning of 'slurry' and how to mix one properly in a wheelbarrow. But don't worry,  I haven’t invested in steel-capped boots or anything drastic. Gosh. That WOULD be serious!
Alice (Underground), Avril Lavinge, 2010