by Robert Brand.
It is true that creating a better security system simply creates a better thief. In this case it certainly did. On the 1st floor of Paddington (now L4), Engineering Branch (Eng Branch) and Operations Branch (Ops) shared the lunchroom and the fridge. Each had separate “tea clubs” which paid for tea, milk, coffee and sugar. The big problem was the varying rate of consumption by the Ops staff. Day shifts were heavily staffed and weekends and night shifts were fairly light and the Ops staff were forever running out of milk. Of course late at night there were no shops open to top up the milk stocks, so the clearly labelled Eng Branch milk was usually raided.
Well of course Eng Branch labelled their milk with bigger writing and put it into a spacial part of the fridge with warning about the consequences of milk theft. Accusations were flying and temperatures rose and still the milk disappeared. It seemed that nothing management could say or do could stop the milk pilfering.
Now Eng Branch were used to constructing things and a plan was hatched that was thought to be the ultimate in milk security. Aluminium sheet was obtained, cut, bent and finished into a lockable solid box that would hold one litre of milk. It was secured to the door of the fridge. It seems that they had it beaten. There milk would be safe as it could not extracted by tubes or anything that could enter the milk safe.
Well it was not even a late night shift, but idle minds do the devil’s work! And they worked hard on this one and of course the next day, Eng branch sat down to their morning tea, safe in the knowledge that their milk was safe. Unfortunately the milk was empty and no sign of the break and enter could be found. Nothing. It simply had disappeared right out of the locked milk safe.
Eng Branch staff were perplexed. Being on the Ops crew I asked what had been done to assist in the great milk escape. It seemed the door hinges were not all that difficult to remove. The door had been turned upside down and the milk rescued!
I’m sure that they found out eventually, but at least for a week there were some perplexed installers contemplating the theft. Got to love thinking outside the box – literally.
Above: Some of the rogue elements of the ITMC staff! Carlos Valdes is standing in front of the whiteboard and Jim Gould is seated on the right – they are both mentioned in the stories below. Note: the real perpetrators of the milk theft are not in this picture.
Carlos Valdes and his Sugar High
Carlos was part of Ops Branch and loved his coffee. It was always a strong brew, but I always winced when he added 6 sugars and started to drink. I asked him one day why he did not stir his coffee. The answer was obvious – he said: “Are you kidding? – it would be too sweet”. I went back to work shaking my head.
Jim Gould and that Smell
Jim Gould was always interesting to have on shift. It was not always about work though with Jim. He was a bit distracted by the many things around him like: can you balance a ruler on your fingertips, flip it and catch on your finger tips and balance it on your fingertips again. He was easily distracted, but an absolutely nice guy.
I remember visiting his house during renovations – he had sandblasted the house some time earlier and inside the house it still looked like the great sandy desert. I went sailing on Bob Lewis’s yacht with them and they gave me a lift. There was so much junk in the car that I could not see the seat I was sitting on. When I commented on the smell, I was told, that the dog might have done something, but they could find it.
So, when we smelled something bad coming from the lunchroom we all headed in there on the run, only to find poor old Jim starting to eat a clearly rotten bit of meat. It seems that poor Jim had zero sense of smell due to some damage early in life. He did not even know that the food was bad. It also explained why he could not be bothered looking for the smell in the car – what smell?
A Heads up on George Moses
It seems that George’s most famous trick was to convince some poor new guy on shift to share a serving of prawns from the local seafood shop. It seemed okay to the poor sucker agreeing to the split, but they would soon learn about George. While the target of the scam was peeling, cleaning and de-heading his first prawn, George was already through his first five prawns. Seems old George like to eat them whole, heads, shells and all and the poor guy sharing simply subsidised George’s lust for the little expensive beasts.
Some Like it Hot
More Fire Brigade visits (false alarms) resulted from the days before microwaves. Before we got a microwave oven, people would cook or heat food in a pot of boiling water. The dreaded phone would ring and the kitchen was forgotten. The fire brigade would always pile in to check the burnt dinner and look around at the technology. Even though I was never the cause of a false alarm, it was always joked that I was the cause. My father was a volunteer fireman with the “bells” installed at home and he got paid for every fire call-out he attended. That is him in the photo. By the way, those bells were installed right over my bed while I was growing up. They were phone bells and I soon learned to sleep through a continuous ring and wake to the same bell sounds when the phone rang! I was still living at home in Paddington at 19 years old when I started work in the Paddington ITMC. It took me all of 2 minutes to get to the office.
By the way, my father worked at Bondi (for his day job), home of the infamous Doug Lloyd. My father was a commercial refrigeration Engineer and looked after the local pub at Bondi where Doug was often found outside of working hours. It was over the odd schooner that they often chatted. It was Doug’s urging (some may say “fault”) that I try out for OTC that saw me start with the company.