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Today's quote:

Monday, March 13, 2017

What if this hadn't been a typo?


The elderly manager of the ANZ Bank where I worked, Mr Tillett, did all his own typing, sometimes with devastating results. At one time he dyslexically started a letter to a customer with "Dear Madman" instead of "Dear Madam".

After I had rejoined the bank in early 1969, only to leave again for New Guinea at the end of the same year, he deigned to give me a short reference which he dated "1979" instead of "1970". I have sometimes wondered how my life would've panned out had I stayed with the Bank for nine long years instead of nine short months.

It would've been so easy to stay for nine years because the work was undemanding and the surroundings pleasant. Then, after the first nine years, staying another nine years, and then another, would've become almost inevitable. After all, what else would I've been capable of doing, other than to turn up on time, execute some clearly defined functions, and repeat them the next day, and the next, ad infinitum?

Yours truly outside the ANZ Bank Kingston A.C.T. in 1969

Instead, I left my comfort zone to learn and grow and never allowed myself to get comfortable again. By the time I reached Mr Tillett's typographically erroneous date of 1979, I had already moved on through a dozen-plus jobs in a dozen-plus countries, and I kept on searching for new challenges and opportunities right until the end.

Who was the winner? That other me who could've gone through life on auto-pilot, routinely receiving small but regular salary increases whether merited or not, routinely drinking with the boys on a Friday night, and routinely watching the footie on a Sunday, before routinely returning to work on the dreaded Monday morning, or the real me who lived on the edge, went from bust to boom and back again, and never quite knew where he was going to be and what he was going to be?

I think there's a time for everything and the time to take risks and test myself was when both my body and mind were still willing and able, and to switch on the auto-pilot only after my body had begun to long for some rest and in my mind I was already typing "Dear Madman ..."