Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Adiós / Au revoir / Ciao / Zàijiàn / Tạm biệt / Alvida Intrepid

When I first landed an editorial gig in April at a respected travel company my brain bubbled at the prospect of writing about a universally loved subject. Beats the hell out of waxing poetic about OTC antacids or sleep apnea devices, both subjects of credulous creativity in my professional past. It was inevitable that the novelty of describing small group travel destinations would wear off; what wasn't inevitable was a growing appreciation for the culture of Intrepid Travel's corporate office in Melbourne's CBD, and a genuine respect for the people I got to call colleagues.

This photo (left) was taken Friday night in the 'beer garden' section of the Intrepid office, which inhabits the entire 7th floor of a Collins Street highrise. At 4 pm on Fridays the company provides a fridge-full of beer, cider and wine in its vast kitchen area, to which the beer garden is adjacent. The gentleman beside me is Mark Hewitt, of the Ringwood Hewitts (sorry for that, mate). When I joined Intrepid's brochure team I'd been freelance writing for years and was still doing overnight shifts as an Uber driver but had not held a full-time office gig since a comically bad stint with Optus in North Sydney in 2007. Fair to say I was trepiditious about fitting in as a rusty 51 year old. To use one of Mark's favourite expressions, 'this fuckin' guy' was as helpful and patient as anyone I've ever worked with, regardless of the field. I thanked him in front of the team on Friday, my final day at Intrepid, and I'm thanking him again on my goddamned blog because everyone should be as lucky to have a guy like this beside him/her when you feel like a bridge troll in an office full of young, smart and disturbingly attractive men and women.

Parramatta Yankee was once a means to show people back home what life was like in Australia but I stopped doing that when my life became something I disliked. So consider this a throwback post. Here's a chronological look at my first experience as a Melbourne CBD Working Boy, starting with a South Melbourne sunrise snapped in April (below) and ending with photos from my final day on Friday.
As I was still Ubering in April I'd park in South Melbourne, have a coffee and chin wag with Dave at Jimmy the Saint, and walk to the Intrepid office on Collins Street. One morning the sky over Southbank, which sits across the Yarra River from Melbourne's CBD, glowed cotton-candy pink.
Piano man Julian and I became fast friends even before he invited several folks from Intrepid and I to a Sunday afternoon lunch at he and his wife Meera's home in Clayton. Neesha, their oldest child, is propped upon Meera's lap, while Lucy, one of the Outstanding Humans of Intrepid, sits alongside.
After realising working 9-5 and leasing a car for Uber was a hamster wheel of financial futility, I returned the car and began taking the train to Flinders Street Station and walking to the office near Spencer Street on the western edge of the CBD. On this morning, menacing clouds gathered over the CBD.
Morning view of the pedestrian bridge to Southbank.
Steps of the Immigration Museum on Flinders Street painted in support of the Yes vote in Australia's ridiculous (non-binding) referendum on marriage equality. Here's hoping Aussies do what their gutless representatives cannot: acknowledge the rights of fellow citizens to marry the partner of his/her choice. Pretty fucking simple.
If a Southern Cross train was about to pull out of Flinders Street as my Sandringham line train arrived (perhaps the most Melbourne-centric collection of words I've ever typed) I'd hop on to save a few minutes. Here's the view looking north at the CBD, featuring a prominent Immigration Museum.
A new chi-chi restaurant seems to pop up on Chapel Street every week, but every now and then I'd get off the train at Windsor and determine a beer and (chicken) burger were necessary and head to the nearby hipster-free Parlour Diner for a healing dose.
On the subject of healing doses ... while full-time colleagues are seemingly happy with Friday beers, my fellow contractors and I expanded the range to include spirits. In this case, the favourite spirit of Liz, the woman in the 'Home Is Toronto' sweatshirt, whose workspace was opposite my own.
Walking back to my St Kilda East apartment through a moody Alma Park.
Exceptionally ordinary apartment buildings on Flinders Street.
As I've lived in proximity to Australia's finest bagels for ten years in Balaclava, I was hesitant to visit a bagel shop near the office favoured by my colleagues. After overcoming my bias I quickly became a fan of NJ-native Zev's shop, called 5 and Dime Bagel, especially when I went in one day and he was wearing a t-shirt reading 'Boonton Coffee Co'.
To celebrate the conclusion of a successful 'brochure season', Intrepid organised an afternoon of lawn bowls at the Melbourne Bowls Club in Flagstaff Gardens. Thanks again, Belinda.
On Friday the rising sun glowed bright down Fulton Street as I began a final morning commute.
My last morning as first (or second) into the office.
I could write a few thousand words about 'Tin of Win', a Friday tradition of the Intrepid marketing department. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I'll stick to the basics: If something good happened during a workweek, we'd jot it down on a slip of paper and shove it in a tin. At around 4:30 the dept would gather, drinks in hand, pull random slips from the tin, and read them aloud. On my final day I was humbled by both the quantity and subject matter of many of those slips of paper, especially this one -- kudos to whoever perfectly described my 'generally marketable voice-over-voice'.
Amen. (Thanks, Cluny.)
Dusk view in the beer garden. Outstanding Humans of Intrepid Pippa, Emily and Justin are barely visible in foreground shadow.
On Saturday morning I pulled this, a departing gift from Home Is Toronto Liz, from my backpack and placed it in a place of prominence. I'll do the same with memories of my six months at Intrepid. 

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