Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I could see his face flush with panic whenever he saw me. It was only a subtle sign, but I could see it, behind his thick-rimmed glasses, behind his tar-coloured eyes. He knew my after-hours appearance at the front desk typically indicated that something was wrong and it so happened that every other hour, something was wrong. My door key had been deactivated.

However, on this occasion, I had to insist that nothing was actually wrong. I had been sitting across the room, curled up on a beanbag. I was concentrating upon writing about the potency of particularly perfect pop songs, the subtle but ever-relentless snobbery of once-trusted friends and Sydney's ever-irritating influx of one-way-streets and prams.

I had just started writing in my new, navy-blue Semikolon notebook that I received for Valentine's Day. My Parker pen was bleeding stolen red ink everywhere... and even now, I cannot remove its ink from my fingers. It's as if my fingers and palms were wounded by Cadbury's great stationery cull of 2011. But I have to remind myself, they were going to throw away that ink anyway.

When the requisite pages were filled, I approached the desk and started a conversation with the handsome doorman. He spoke of his double life. Long days, wearing suits and carrying himself with the utmost formality. Taking on the work of his superiors and receiving absolutely no credit. He told me of lonely nights behind the desk of the hostel, struggling to stay awake.

I suppose if we were talking strictly in the terms of pick-up parlance, I responded with a DLV. I said I struggled with notions of professionalism. I gush and I flirt and I laugh and carry on. I refuse to pin my fringe back and I always wear drainpipe jeans. Yet, I feel as if the quality of my work is excellent and I have (the arguably misguided) faith my employers will see that.

Ever since that night, I've been thinking about how he managed to articulate his attraction to professionalism. He spoke of his unequivocal desire to be a part of that corporate environment. Just as I once had faith that volunteering would lead to a paid job in broadcasting or even the music industry, he believes that being a corporate lackey will lead him somewhere... and that with professionalism, comes respect.

"You don't seem like a lawyer..." He said, I never even caught his name. "Well, it happened." I muttered apologetically. I told him about C&CM, about the music essays and the podcasts and the documentary I had been working on... but I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed that I couldn't share his enthusiasm to step up, to change and adapt to meet the expectations of the rat-race.

The conversation halted suddenly when a dishevelled Dutch back-packer stepped in off the streets. I didn't think to wait, I didn't even think to appear distracted until he was free again. He was lovely and pristine and together. I don't see how he could have understood my inability to do as he does. To save face, I thanked him and said goodbye.

By friend, Norbi

Weeks later, I found myself with a film crew in the back alleys of Melbourne. Hands still ink-stained, legs still in drain pipes. It seemed like an accident to me, but after months of discussing, planning and writing we were finally filming this thing, this fashion segment I had once imagined. At no point did I hesitate, neither in my direction or guidance to cameraman, presenter or contributor... and much like in my days of producing radio, I had the utmost clarity about what I wanted this to become.

"I've just never seen you like that!" My Louise gushed after the shoot. "It was crazy for me to see you take control of everything..." She paused a moment. "You were just so professional!" I couldn't help but recoil slightly at the mention of that word. Yet I felt a some kind of unearthly gratitude that although I have no burning desire to become a corporate lawyer, I won't always be a complete shambolic mess. Quite incidentally, and quite accidentally, I still have that capacity to possess a quality I never thought I'd have.

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