Saturday, January 12, 2013

Respect man

I must have been about ten years old when I first saw the brand new Coles New World supermarket in Dandenong Road, Princes Highway if you like, Dandenong. Atop the construction sat a huge futuristic rocket and you can imagine how exciting this scene must have been to a lad from the country. This new style of supermarket was clean, fresh and bright. It had wide aisles, a vast array of products and just seemed so modern; futuristic too, if I may.

Is it any wonder shoppers turned their backs on dark, dingy and cramped 'self serve grocers', with their narrow timber floored aisles?

About the same time in 1967 while I was imagining a destination for a New World rocket, Brenda started work at the newly opened Coles New World supermarket in Malvern. Photos of Coles and their rockets are hard to find, and I don't even know if the Malvern store had one. This is not exactly how I recall the rockets, but it is the best I can find.


In 1979 I became an occasional customer at Coles in Malvern as it is near my workplace and I continue to be an occasional customer. I have known Brenda a long time, by sight, hello, please and thank you. She is always friendly and polite. I had absolutely no idea she was eighty years old and nor how long she had worked at the store until I saw a newspaper clipping pinned up behind a service counter. Forty five years is a very long time to work in one place.

I went googling and found the piece in the Herald Sun from July last year when she was proclaimed to be Australia's oldest check out chick. Old people befuddled by modern technology? Read the piece, and I would just add that unlike my attitude to most old people, I would be quite happy to have Brenda in a queue in front of me at an automatic teller machine. (people should be very grateful that my mother sticks to using a bank book and not a card at the electric bank)

http://www.news.com.au/business/worklife/the-grandmother-of-checkout-chicks/story-e6frfm9r-1226437067559

16 comments:

  1. The brave new world of the supermarket duopoly. Change your logo every few years.

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    1. Victor, I don't know what your local Coles is like, but the Malvern store is one out of the box, in that there are minimum Indian staff and quite a number of older and old time Anglo staff. In Malvern, they don't have to deal with alchys, those with mental issues and the conversation is always ever so polite.

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  2. These days 45 years really IS a very long time to work in one place. Now people stay 3 years with one employer and are already looking for new positions with new industries and often in new places. There is no such thing as loyalty from managers to their workers, or from workers to their companies.

    But even as late as the 1960s, people expected to work in the one industry all their life, probably with the one company/government department. Back then I truly believed that people who flitted from job to job were unreliable and disloyal.

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    1. Hels, I have the same attitude as you in your last sentence, well like you, I did. The world has changed and I feel that it is not for me. What must this flitting from job to job cost companies, ultimately us?

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  3. Oh yeeeah, I know Brenda. I take one of my clients to that Coles every week and I saw the article. Good on her, she's a darling.

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    1. Fen, you work to close to where I live and work. I am going to recognise you one day.

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  4. Brenda is, without a doubt, a Dead Set Legend!

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    1. I reckon so Kath. My memory of Coles in Flemington had no such person.

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  5. 80 years old and still there after 45 years!!
    She certainly puts me to shame. I've been there 10 and can't wait to retire.
    I'm betting the difference is the love of the job.
    I signed on as a last resort, if the shoe factory hadn't closed down, I'd still be there and would probably stay until they carried me out feet first.
    Brenda probably feels the same about working at Coles. She certainly looks happy.

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    1. I wondered how to slip in a link to you River, but I could not, the least of all you might not appreciate it. I think the secret for what Brenda does is she is not full time, she starts early and finishes early on permanent hours and she lives a short walk away.

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  6. Link away Andrew, I don't mind. Anything that brings people to my blog is fine with me.
    So Brenda does what I used to do, when I lived within walking distance, a short early morning shift, part time only. It was much easier and more enjoyable than what I do now. Still only part time, but long bus journeys and shifts all over the place, nothing regular.

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  7. Yes, not so easy for you now, but hey, how nice is it to have your own place that no one can take away from you.

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  8. Actually, there were (still are?) are few really good sorts at the Safeway in Flem - a couple of young chicks that I'd talk to and even remembered me when I saw them out of work hours down Puckle Street.

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    1. Kath, it is nice to make connections within such an impersonal monolith.

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  9. I get the definite feeling that Brenda is most probably a whole lot more technically savvy than moi Andrew.. Can you imagine what it was like for me growing up in a small town in Central Africa on my first trip to London..oh la!

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    1. Grace, you must write about your culture shock.

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