It was the year 1958. I’d just finished my army reserve training, and tanned and fit was being returned by the government to civilian life. No more route marches in the middle of the night, no more sleeping exhausted out in the rain, no more doing twenty circuits of the parade ground on the run because some vindictive Sergeant Major had a bender from a night on the happy juice. I was free!

Of course not every experience had been an unhappy one. The morning naked dash to the army shower rooms had been an exhilarating experience with much hooting and tugging of towels for those not similarly attired. Long tours of the “outback” country in ancient Blitz Wagons as we fought imaginary enemies gave insights into the varieties of beauty in my Australia. Early morning travel through outback towns just as the local lasses were going to work, the hooting of recruits in the back of the trucks and jamming brakes to see them all collapse from the impact in embarrassed anger were memories to treasure. But it was now back to career and a different more exacting form of hard work.

I presented back to the new offices of A H Leitch & Son, Public Accountants with high confidence and knowledge of the world I’d not possessed prior to Army reserve training. The old gang was there to welcome me back warmly and one of the partners showed me to my new office and moved in arm loads of tax return papers from his own office for me to process. My cocky reentry into the world of business changed to an air of apprehension as I surveyed my work load and did quick mental calculations on processing time matching those calculations with deadlines. My after hours pleasure time mentally compacted as I remembered working weekends and evenings prior to National Army Service recruitment. Fast tracking careers comes at a price!

I felt a little resentful my healthy outdoor lifestyle, in spite of disadvantages, should suddenly revert to the unhealthy sedentary lifestyle of an accounting intern. For a while I rebelled and decided a 9 to 5 job would be preferable. I searched newspapers and even applied for a job in the capital city which looked to have more sensible hours. The partners countered this on learning of my dissatisfaction with a hefty pay rise. That certainly gained my attention. This was a weapon the partners soon learned was a powerful motivational tool to someone they’d invested five years training in and wanted to keep if at all possible. They later followed that up by paying half of the price of a new car. I quickly conformed to the accountant mould on seeing my adjusted pay check.

But long hours in the office began to eat away at the enthusiasm I’d first experienced on sighting my adjusted pay. That is until the entry of Monika.

Monika appeared on my horizon one Monday morning when I noticed this shapely, confident sixteen year old sweep past my office for an interview with the partners. They took one look at her and hired her on the spot with barely a glance at her CV. When could she start? Immediately thank you! The partners then shepherded her around the office introducing Monika to the staff. The office girls appraised her and registered the coldness of female competition. Monika was from the city and exuded the confidence, charm and sophistication of city life. The girls glanced at their boss and decided it would be wise of them to cooperate with Monika.

The Junior Partner paid me a visit and told me I was responsible for showing Monika the ropes, and she would be typing my completed projects. Those were the days when bosses sat majestically in their chairs and dictated copious correspondence or passed their scrawled memos to a stenographer to pretty up before being sent to inter-office or regular mail. I couldn’t believe my good fortune and immediately passed my thanks to the powers above who’d delivered this boon to me. All of a sudden an accounting career seemed the right goal in life.

Now Monika was a very bright recruit, but one had to make sure things were done correctly so I spent as much time as possible supervising her work and hovering around to make sure she had everything at her disposal. This of course meant I had to pay the price and work overtime to make up for the time spent in supervision during the day. The Junior Partner observed all this and smiled knowingly. He determined to make sure Monika was happy in her job so I was not tempted to leave for other employment elsewhere.

Filing had never been something that grabbed my imagination, but out of the kindness of my heart I’d once in a while help Monika file papers in the vault. Monika would acknowledge my kindness with a flutter of the eyelids that would place me on cloud nine. It was while filing that I plucked up courage to ask Monika if she would like to go to the movies with me. I was expecting a diplomatic refusal from this sophisticated city girl and braced myself, but without hesitation and with the trademark flutter Monika said, “Yes!”

So we started to date, and within a short time I discovered one of my former army buddies was equally enamored with Monika and dating her when I had to work back nights to catch up. Geoff had a green jeep and mine was blue. I took an instant dislike to the color green! Geoff was my friend no more; we were contestants in a serious battle for supremacy in the pursuit of romance. Monika became my obsession and to my surprise I found an ally in Rita the Redhead who I’ve mentioned in another story. Rita worked Monika over putting in the good word for me whenever the occasion presented itself and frowning at the mention of Geoff’s name. Monika’s interest grew under Rita’s careful nurturing.

But Geoff continued on as an irritant until one evening when I knew Monika and he would be enjoying a show together I turned up at the same place with another date. It was by accident of course. For the next two days I was given the silent treatment, but Rita continued her nurturing and Monika thawed. We had an understanding while filing together in the vault and crossed Geoff off the list of suitors. Monika had chosen me and my joy knew no bounds!

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2012 All rights reserved

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