Goodbye Sydney

Hey Grant (or, “The Grunt” as Tony fondly christened you)

I was just about to wrap up my memories of Sydney 1985 – 1990 when I remembered I had not done a letter to you, that would have been unforgivably slack. You, Cathe, Tracey, Dianne and of course; the long, tall, lanky one are all people who I remember with such fondness .You guys did the hard yards to make sure the wheels did not fall, off while Tone, Affy and I were out creating havoc

You started with me in early 1988, having just finished your HSC.

Your initial role was office “gofer” but you became so much more than that, I was immensely  proud of the way you developed over the next year. You became Tony’s “carer” in the Auction Department, you were a great assistant to Affy and your support  was invaluable to me.

You lived just up the hill from Sas and I in Blakehurst. Almost every morning, when I was in Sydney, I would walk out of home, around 6.40 am to find you sitting on the front fence waiting for your lift to work. Those hours in the car were your opportunity to tell me about your weekend, update me on the latest girlfriend, talk to me about your mum and dad, enthuse about the new jet ski and just occasionally,  we would discuss work.

I can only hope I let you know how important your role had become. “Ask the Grunt” would be Tone’s response, every time I questioned him about Auction performance figures and how we were tracking for the next month.

I remember the closest thing we ever had to a fight. You had done something stupid and you were in my office justifying what you had done. The problem is long forgotten; the conversation is not.

“Grunt, just tell me what you did and we can fix it”

“Bruce I didn’t do anything wrong”

“Grunt you fucked up, now tell me what you did and we can fix it”

“I did not fuck up”

“Grunt, sit there until you admit you fucked up, then I can fix it”

“I did n….   “

“Shut up, until you are ready to admit you fucked up”

We sat and looked at each other for maybe 30 seconds of silence, it was a battle of wills until you leaned across the desk with a half-smile.

“Chief, I guess I fucked up”

“Great, now we can fix it”

Months later I was at Double Bay, chatting with Michael, Craig and Trevor about their expansion, their lack of physical space in the office and the costs of growth.

You had served your apprenticeship with us and it was time to get you out into the real world. You and I had discussed this, but nothing had been decided, I knew you had to go but replacing you would be tough.

I said to the Double Bays guys that afternoon

“Given what we have just talked about, I guess now would not be a good time to ask if you want to take The Grunt

Craig turned sharply to me and said “Anytime, is a good time to take The Grunt, why do you want to get rid of him?”

“I don’t, but he needs to get out in the field, he can’t learn anymore with us”

Craig’s haste and keenness to have you, meant you had earned top marks from one of the toughest in the business.

I went back to the office and asked you what you thought, you jumped at the chance, I put one condition on your leaving.

“You must find me another Grunt before you can go”

You and Tracey found the tall man; James, had big shoes to fill!

I recall you walking around the office with James as you introduced him to everyone, I overheard James ask you.

“What is Bruce like?”

“Bruce is fine, but if you fuck something up, make bloody certain you tell him before he finds out, never try to hide anything from him”

“All you have to do, is say “Bruce I fucked up” and he will fix it with you”

I smiled when I heard this, the apprentice was now the mentor.

You left us about 8 months before I left Sydney. I think it was Tone who said “I feel like the Park Ranger watching the cub he had raised, go back to the wild” Tone always had a taste for hyperbole, but this was one instance, where Affy and I had to agree with him..

You came into my farewell in the Auction room on the Wednesday night in June 1990, it was a great crowd and a really nice night, Tracey outdid herself with the farewell gift Brian presented.

I was homeless and driving to Melbourne the next day, my furniture had already gone.

I was also very pissed.

You and James dropped me to the hotel and knowing, I would be feeling a bit worse for wear;  conspired to call me every hour during the 10 hour road trip the next day.

I would be driving along with the sunroof open, bopping along to “The Boss” and the phone would ring.

“Hey Chief, how you doing?”

Five minutes of banter would follow and then I could get back to “The Boss” always with a smile on my face.

I would see you occasionally, when I was back in Sydney, I was delighted to come up for James’s 21st and then your wedding, but we would lose touch gradually over the next few years. You guys created your own tribes and that is the way things are meant to happen.

I do though, take note of what you are both doing and there is pride, that I had, at least a little input, into the people you have become

I hope your memories of me, are as fond as mine are of you, I like to think they would be.

Go well Grunt

Bruce

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