Fred Smith had no idea of what was about to happen on that fateful day in early 2015 when his boss summoned him to the air-conditioned donga that had been un-affectionately dubbed ‘the office of doom’ by his co-workers.
Fred was your typical Aussie bloke – an honest battler who loved his family; loved a beer with his mates; would do anything for anyone, “except for dickheads and spongers of course”, he’d say; and generally put in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. When I say a ‘fair day’s pay’ though, everyone recognised that the wages he and his mates were on, were more than a tad inflated, courtesy of the ‘WA Mining Boom’.
True enough, all of the guys knew that the ‘Fly in, Fly Out’ deal they had, couldn’t last forever, but they had all become used to the inflated wages, zonal allowances and bonuses – those salaries had become the new norm and they were living the life to match it.
Fred was known as ‘Blind Freddy’ to his mates, ever since the day “some smartarse” had blackened some binoculars with boot polish and asked him to check out the ‘hot chick’ working up in the crane. The two dark rings around his eyes had remained for the whole day until the end of shift when Freddy next had chance to glance in a mirror. No wonder people had been smiling at him so much. Those ‘bloody b’s’ had got him, good and proper!
The truth was though that even a perfectly-sighted Freddie could not have seen what was coming that day when ‘Slimbo’, the shift supervisor, gave him a ‘hoy’. Slimbo had earned his name because the continual paperwork of filling out safety forms and procedural checklists prevented him from exercising and he had swollen to 140 kilograms of blobby cellulite.
Freddie wiped his dirty hands on his ‘Hi Vis’ vest, as you do, and entered the chilly office – a welcome relief from the 41-degrees heat outside.
“Take a seat Freddie, bad news, sorry mate…” said Slimbo. “The word’s come through that we’re doing a shut-down, so we’ve been given the heave-ho. We finish up at the end of this swing.”
“Yeh Slimbo, good one mate. You almost got me going there.” retorted Freddie, thinking that his boss was playing yet another practical joke on him.
“No mate, it’s fair dinkum,” said Slimbo with a dead pan face. “There’ll be a payout of course, but with the new rules on redundancy, it’s not exactly gonna’ keep the Missus drowning in Chardonnay for too long.”
Six months later, ‘Blind Freddy’ found himself gazing pensively at a very different but nonetheless fabulous view, as he sat on a park bench at King’s Park, overlooking the spectacular vista of Perth and its Swan River before him.
“What the bloody hell do I do now?” thought the stressed looking, ex FIFO worker.
He’d applied for that many jobs that he reckoned he could be a lecturer on the subject, but all to no avail. There were just too many blokes just like him, with pretty much the same tickets and the same experience, all battling for the same few openings. Plus, even if he’d jagged one of them, the pay was crap compared with what he’d been used to – you’d just feel like the new boss was taking the micky out of you, but even that would be a feeling he’d love to experience right now.
The months of boredom had been accentuated with the financial stress of seeing his life gradually dismantle. The house that had seemed a good idea at the time was now an anchor around his neck as he struggled with the mortgage payments. He’ already sold the 4WD (for less than what he owed on it), just to get rid of the car payments. The caravan, the boat, the motor bike and the jet skis had also been ditched as he and his unhappy wife struggled to readjust to their new normal in a post-boom reality.
Life had pretty much reached an all-time low, but then he had spoken to a coach. It wasn’t the kind of coach he’d thought of when the idea had first been put to him by a mate. Freddy had worked with footy coaches, a fitness coach at the mine camp and they’d even had a talk from a diet coach, but this was a life and business coach, something he would have dismissed scornfully seven months earlier. The idea of talking to a stranger about where his life was heading would have been met with a fair amount of banter from his old work mates, but not anymore.
The redundancy coach, Tony Inman had given Freddy a lot to think about. In fact, he didn’t seem like a stranger at all – more like a mate he’d known for years, someone who had ‘got his back’, and he had asked some bloody tough questions, but boy had they made him think.
As Freddie sat on that bench, sipping on electrolysed water and scribbling down the answers to the exercises that the coach had given him, something began to change. Freddie noticed the formations in the occasional wispy clouds over the hills in the distance; he heard the birds tweeting in the tree nearby and he smiled as a bunch of tourists were taking silly selfies with daft facial expressions near the War Memorial. Despite the worry he had been living with for months, it felt like he suddenly had so much to be grateful for. Something new was about to happen. Some ideas inside him were bursting to get out.
Several months later, the big day had finally come. Freddy’s mates began to rock up at his home in the Northern Suburbs for the exciting party that he and his wife had been planning in a ‘cloak and dagger’ fashion.
“Ladies and gents, fill your glasses” he shouted. “The big secret is about to be unveiled”.
An almighty cheer erupted from the small crowd as the garage door opened and out drove Freddy to reveal his new business venture to his mates.
“Thank you all for coming tonight,” shouted the ex-mine worker. “Feast your eyes on the all new, ‘Blind Freddy’s Food Truck’ business”.
The sparkling purple vehicle had an amazing cartoon caricature of Freddy with rings around his eyes, binoculars in his hands and a big smile to match the ear-to-ear grin of the man himself, now a new-born entrepreneur. Freddy’s coach had helped him to discover that the thing he had always had a dream to do, was to follow his passion of creating extraordinarily mouth-watering snacks and to share his talents with the world at large.
The life and business coach, Tony Inman had helped him take the idea from a concept, to a business plan to a reality. It would all never have happened had he not lost the job he thought he couldn’t live without, and might still not have happened had he not been bold enough to engage a coach to help him manage the overwhelming change in his life. Slimbo was delighted to be a pioneering taste-test customer on that happy evening, sampling one of the healthy eating options (Slimbo was on his own ‘change journey’).
Things happen to us as we go through our lives. Sometimes they crush us, sometimes they uplift us and make us the person we are today. What ‘Blind Freddy’ discovered was that ‘It’s not what happens to you that counts, it’s what you do about what happens to you that counts.’
Don’t let change hold you in fear. Embrace it and keep moving – your best is yet to come.
The above is a fictional story, though there are plenty of ‘Blind Freddy’ characters in Western Australia right now, so if you need an experienced helping hand to get out of a rut, why not give me a call on the numbers below.