Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Day Joe Hockey Pissed Off The Receptionist.

Back in 1996 I applied for a job as a receptionist at a very cool North Sydney advertising agency. So keen for the job that after my interview, I posted the boss a tin of Keens mustard with a note that had just five words written on it.

"I'm keen as mustard. Eden."

I got the job. I was twenty-four years old, and when I wasn't hungover I was the best receptionist in town. This job was perfect because the bigwigs knew I was a writer who had previous experience writing radio ads for 2GB. Could hardly believe my luck - only beautiful people worked in advertising agencies. There was even a pinball machine and lounges for when we needed a break.

One day this guy came bustling, hurtling through the door looking for one of the agency owners. The bustling guy was in a big hurry and stressed me out immediately. His name was Joe Hockey, and he was about to be elected into the Australian Parliament. But he needed signs - lots and lots of big-arse signs saying the same thing but in different ways.


I told him the person he was looking for wasn't in and would he like to leave a message. Joe was furious! Tried calling my boss on his mobile but there was no answer. Joe Hockey abruptly left without leaving a message.

Joe Hockey rang the next day, and the next. He was so incredibly rude and flippant and in a rush and RUDE. A lot of people don't realise how much power a receptionist holds in her busy, phone-answering hands. I did not like Joe Hockey, not one bit. He didn't look at me, he treated me like a piece of shit. He was a ruthlessly ambitious, suit-wearing, power-hungry arsehole. Also rude.

Call me old-fashioned but I have this penchant for treating people fairly. A Prime Minister or a toilet cleaner, an executive or a skateboarding teenager. I look people in the eye, I say please and thank you, and I don't treat people like pieces of shit.

Joe Hockey was a real peach. He wanted his signs BIGGER. He wanted them BEAUTIFUL. And he wanted them NOW. He also wanted them free. My frustrated boss let slip to me that he was doing this for Joe as a favour. Joe Hockey was a very demanding and intimidating man, but because I knew that my boss was avoiding him, I could have a little play. It was awesome.

"Oh Joe, you just missed him! Yes, again! I am *so* sorry ... can I take a message?"

"Hi Joe just letting you know that as SOON as the art department finish up some important jobs, they'll do the adjustments you asked for. Yes I know this is important too! I'll be sure to let him know."

I accidentally forgot to give my boss all of Joe Hockeys messages, so that when they finally spoke, Joe was MAD. I innocently let the scary precious art directors know that Joe said he needed his signs immediately, and what was the hold-up? Once Joe called me from his car and he was so awful that I just sat there in silence until he hung up.

Finally, eventually, the signs were made and ready. Joe-Joe bustled in, unaware that he'd pissed off pretty much the entire agency. All he wanted were his VOTE FOR JOE HOCKEY! signs, and they were finally in his hands. He lifted them all up by himself, sweaty and huffing. Nobody helped him. My boss stood behind me and we woodenly said goodbye and watched him lurch out.

"Eden, remind me to never do anything for Joe Hockey again."

Last night, Treasurer of Australia Joe Hockey handed down one of the most malicious, awful budgets this country has ever seen. Targeting the poor, the old, the jobless, the single-parents, the mentally unwell. I'm shocked and horrified, but not surprised. (We are one of the richest countries in the world but 8 billion dollars in foreign aid has been cut? Joe-Joe, you have blood on your hands. Actual blood from the people who are going to die from your budget cuts.)

So, what to do besides furious hand-wringing and angry-tweeting? I'm not even sure. Maybe just continue to try make a difference in life when we can. Help other people, and teach my children the value and importance of treating everybody they meet with kindness. It sounds lame but it's all I got.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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