Tuesday, November 10, 2009

John Farnham's Greatest Fan works at Harris Farm Market

One of the perks of my place of work, and believe me there are precious few other than the five lovely men who distract me from one scowling woman, is the fact that I have a Harris Farm Market and wholesale butcher downstairs.

Largely Fruit and veg, exotic breads, frozen pasta, fresh pasta, dairy foods including lovely cheeses, marscapone and a variety of creams. Homus, fresh salads, salamis, smoked salmon, trout and other deli delights - pasta sauces, pesto, weird Chinese thingies and European cakes and biscuits, even exotic teas and some things I'm not sure what to do with. There's a huge nut bar, where you can help yourself to a variety of unsalted nuts or dried fruit.
Today's specials included Chinese cabbage for 99cents, three bunches of asparagus for $5.00, three bunches of baby bok choy for 99cents, bags of red peppers for $1.00, Macadamias were $14 a kilo and mangoes, the first delicious Bowen yellowness of the season just $19 a box!

The butcher too is huge with a wide variety of meats and due to the high Chinese population in Parramatta serves cuts of meat I've never heard of. In fact I don't really want to know what a Pork Maw is but I tell you it doesn't look much more appetising than the chicken feet. However, they do have fillet steak for $15 a kilo, ham off the bone, not that wet supermarket stuff that comes from sausage shaped pigs, chicken breasts for $6.99 and other daily specials. They have home made sausages (which of course you know I never buy), two small fresh chickens for $8.00.

But what makes this place rather sweet is the spruikers. There are two youngish men, young, solid and looking slightly Lebanese with the tiniest of giveaway accents and booming voices. They clearly love their job and the opportunity to promote their produce.

One stands by an electric frypan, cooking up the special of the day. Today it was sirloin steak, selling for half price at $6.99 a kilo. Marinated and cooked to perfection and being proffered on little toothpicks for any willing punter. His voice bellowed across the entire floor enticing shoppers to take advantage. The other, similarly Lebanese Australian, was just outside the door selling boxes (that's about 24 punnets) of strawberries for $10. Clearly they were all 'ready to eat' and wouldn't have lasted well for more than a couple of days but some entrepreneurial person bought ten or twelve boxes and was selling them up the road for $2.50 a punnet.

The charmer of this little multicultural retail wonderland is a Downs Syndrome kid. He's older than most, at a guess about 25. He has a girlfriend, I know because he told me and his name is Nick and for some reason, he always remembers mine. He's now trying his hand at spruiking. He's hired mainly to stack fruit and sweep the floor and in true 'Downs' fashion is very friendly, very sweet and always ready for a chat if you have the patience to wait and try to understand him. He'll yell something that sounds like 'ga yi blorr anaringes . . thix a tay dillers' which I think is six blood oranges for two dollars. Then I could be mistaken, perhaps he's abusing shoppers suggesting that we're "bloody urang utans and thick as school dinners"

Today, as you do, I hit the sunshine by Parramatta River at lunch time, armed with little more than a Dare Double Espresso iced coffee and a cigarette and this kid was standing on a small wharf which to the world looks like a little stage protruding from the bank out over the river's edge.

His iPod firmly wedged in his ears, he was oblivious to all around him. He performed, he shimmied, he threw a defiant fist in the air and sang. He bowed and thanked the invisible crowd. Or maybe he was thanking the pigeons and seagulls who seemed to enjoy his rendition of John Farnham's "Your the Voice".

You know, it was charming to see someone who clearly knew what they were doing and didn't give a rats arse about who saw him doing it. He spent a full 20 minutes parading with an imaginary microphone, yelling out his encore with the bass clearly banging in his head and 'the voice' screaming his best rendition before graciously saying "Thank you very much, you're a great crowd and here's another one of my favourites . . John Farnham the LEGEND . . and You're the Voice!" (again . . I think it's the only song on his iPod).

I went back into the panic pre-Board paper preparation thinking about these three young men and how they seemed to be loving their work, engaging with shoppers and doing what they do with little or no regard for what people thought of them. They were happy, smiling, clearly making the most of their laborious day.

Now that's freedom, that's being in the zone, that's knowing who and what you are and having it sit so well with you that you don't care what others think . . I long for that kind of self assurance. Pity this little 15 minute respite is over so quickly and I have to go back and face the troll bitch and her scowling face and vicious recriminations of her own staff. How does someone with all the money and power in the world manage to maintain such rage? I think I'd like to work in Harris Farm and entice shoppers to try marinated Pork Maw on the barbie.


Gledwood said...

That's why I want to live opposite Harrods. 'Coz they've got such amazing foodhalls downstairs!!

Melissa said...

I want to go to this market!! Sounds fantastic! Eli would go nuts. :) And I would be spoiled delightedly with the culinary results.

I love this song! It was on the Greenpeace album I bought when I was in high school. :) Love the image of that little guy rockin' out!

Brian Miller said...

i love getting to see people unrestrained from convention, living life with adandon...it makes me smile...and wanna work there too!

laughingwolf said...

let freedom roll :)

nick said...

How can they say you have no attention to detail? That's such a splendidly detailed description of the market and butcher I might almost be there myself. Glad to know there's one or two perks in exchange for the frustrations of the job.

Roy said...

How does someone with all the money and power in the world manage to maintain such rage?

Because that's how she got where she is now - rage is the fuel for her ambition. It's one of those vicious circle/feedback loop kind of things: she wants to get to the top, and she has to fight her way up, which creates more rage which fuels more ambition. I've seen this all too often.

Never heard of John Farnham before. I used to listen to a lot of music out of Oz for a time there, but it was more the raw r&b stuff like Joe Camilleri (remember Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons?) and Vika and Linda Bull, and pub rock groups like Midnight Oil. I still listen to some Aussie acts - The Waifs and Kasey Chambers are current favorites - but my favorites seem to have retired or gone on to something else.

sandy said...

purity and freedom a lot to be said for that

Thriftcriminal said...

Ah, if only.

Darlene said...

Loving what you do has to be the best of all worlds.

I hope the witch doesn't read your blog.

Baino said...

Gleds I remember Harrods food hall simply amazing.

It's nothing special Mel, just in the basement of the building where I work but really handy to pick up fresh stuff every evening and cheap as chips.

They actually 'hired' a guy to spruik but he was so boring, he lasted about 1 week then the owners took over, they do a much better job.

Quite so Wuffa, I long for some!

Nick, 'they' are 'her'. She expects me to deliver perfection and perfect I am not. I relished her looking in the wrong directory yesterday and berating me for not having uploaded a board paper . . . she was looking at November 2008!

Roy, I think you're right. It's her life's ambition to sit on a Board and laud it over others. Very nasty piece of work this woman and I'm not the only one she's upsetting. Wow, impressed with your Aussie repertoire. Joe Camilleri is still around on the local scene and the Waifs and Casey of course. Midnight Oil's lead singer, Peter Garret is now our Minister for the Environment! I'll have a think now that I know your tastes and see if I can't recommend some new Aussie talent.

Indeed Sandy and for some reason, Downs Syndrome people seem to have both in spades.

If only what? If only you could 'be yourself'? Thrifty I think you are most of the time. It's the guise we put on at work that shits me, It's not in my nature to be subjugated. I'd rather be yelling out about blood oranges than justifying my existence to a merciless corporate ladder-climber. I am developing a nice layer of Teflon though.

Baino said...

Darlene, I probably should stop berating her. Then frankly, I don't much care. I'm teetering on the brink of resigning. Only the money is keeping me there and the support of others.

Grannymar said...

Baino, you resign and she wins! You don't want to give her the satisfaction of another notch on her desk.... Do you?

I enjoyed sharing your lunchtime.

Megan said...

I'm hungry. It's lunchtime here and I can't leave yet.

I enjoy my job when things are going well. Things haven't been going well for a while now, though...

I agree w/ GMar - enjoyed your lunchtime and DON'T give her the satisfaction!!! xoxo

Kath Lockett said...

What a lovely picture you've described of the markets and Johnny's biggest fan. I may do similar stuff with Abba but only in the sanctity of my own home....

It might only have been 15 minutes, but you've packed it full of refreshing observations and have the envied ability to see real happiness and goodness in the activities and people at the markets.

The Troll Bitch clearly doesn't have that ability and probably resents it in others, or why behave like such a pointless bully? Karma will win in the end my friend, it always does. :)

See, even the word verification thingy thinks so - ULTRO. Baino soon gave the Troll Bitch an ULTRO, rendering her temporarily pleasant as she
a) tripled Bainos salary with a swish of her pen
b) apologised to everyone for her behaviour, and
c) retired on the spot.

otin said...

I have noticed a theme with strapping men and sausage! LMAO!!

Ronda Laveen said...

Or maybe you could imagine you have a job enticing shoppers to put the troll bitch on the barbie. Oh, this could be fun! So many ways to cook her.

kj said...

if there is any question or reason about why i love you so much, this is it, baino. you are a breath of fresh air, and you NOTICE. joy does not escape you. what you are describing here is the way i want to live as much as possible, whenever i can. and i want that for you, absolutely.

this market sounds so wonderful i wish i could drop in on you for a day and go there with you.

i would worry about you with the troll bitch if i didn't know you. but don't linger with her bad energy too long, honey. laugh at her antics and if you find yourself wanting to cry instead, talk to me!

love love

Quickroute said...

I wonder if the 'troll bitches' of this world ever look back on their misery with regret. I'd like to think so but I doubt it. So true about some people being in the zone working at what makes them happy. I think that's what it supposed to be like but somewhere down the line it all turned to pot

Mim said...

I'm so with KJ on this post. I think you should put ants in the pants of that troll bitch and watch her squirm

River said...

So you can go to work, then pick up dinner downstairs on your way home. How handy is that? I'm assuming you can get staples such as bread and milk there too?

Baino said...

OH Grannymar, I'm digging my heels in trust me!

Lunch is a 15 minute Dare Coffee Espresso and two cigarettes (one which I frequently lose to the drunks on the bench) but I get a free day a month so . .not too bad

Kath I'm not adverse to a romp with a hairbrush late on a Saturday night. . .Karma? Well about time. Haha you're amazing. And very supportive.

Otin schmotin gimme a break. I need a man and I like . . .no ..I'm not fond of sausage *goes away to think of witty answer*

Ronda! Wicked thing you!

Thanks kj. I wish you were here . . I need some counselling! Good things are on the way. I have developed a teflon coating. And I have my five men. . . .lovely specimens.

Who cares Quickie. She can fire me or put up with me. But she is not a happy woman. The zone beckons

Very handy River, very handy indeed, yep . . .I only go to the supermarket for stuff like washing powder, dog foot and shampoo.

kj said...

i wish i were there too. screw the counseling. we would just stay up all night and straighten out the world.


Susan at Stony River said...

I'm SO envious of your prices. My God I think our macadamias here are something like $14 apiece, not a kilo.

It sounds like a great place to have nearby! Good luck with the Board paper and all that you're working on. I was never able to do the job thing--working at home poor but happy is all I can do LOL. Somebody buy me a lottery ticket? *sigh*

The Man at the Pub said...

This post has made me...

a) Very hungry
b) Given me an innordinate desire to never hear a John Farnham song again

jay said...

Ah, you're so right, Baino. Why is it that someone who appears to have 'made it' can be so nasty, yet those who appear to have very little are often real sweethearts? You have to love Down's Syndrome people, I've never yet met one with a bad attitude, they're loving and gentle and can be very funny, too.

Love this bit "ham off the bone, not that wet supermarket stuff that comes from sausage shaped pigs". Now, ain't that the truth? LOL!

What I can't understand is how they have the nerve to sell it as '100% meat, with added water and preservative and colour'. Did no-one tell them what '100%' actually means??

Baino said...

kj it will happen . . as sure as the chardy's cold!

Seriously Suze, this is not normal. Apparently Australia's grocery prices have experienced the highest price rise in the world over the past three years. You know it's good value when the Chinese shop there. They are very particular about quality and value. Today . .3 pineapples for $2.00, Mangoes still $20 a tray, 3 bunches of Asparagus for $5 . . I'm going to have to buy a bigger fridge. Cherries $19 a box (about 4 kilos) unheard of! All good Aussie produce.

As for the job, I have allies in good places. My nemesis is realising that her tactics are not working. She asked me to come back and sit near her office today . . .she 'needs' me . .talk about things that make you go 'hmmm' I I almost felt a pang of sympathy. I lament the debt I've accrued that forces me to put up with it. But have to say, working with my five men is wonderful. They are just lovely. One even bought a sticky bun for morning tea because 'lady's like it' *bless* I'm the only girl in their dept.

My best friend hates John Farnham but I have to say, I actually like that song. He murdered the Beatles "Help"

Jay one thing my mother always lamented about Oz was the poor quality of ham and bacon. It's much better these days but I hate that shaved soggy stuff. I think Macdonalds have the monopoly on sausage shaped pigs, their egg and bacon burger has round bacon? WTF?

Rowe said...

Exactly Baino re: the troll bitch, her money and misery. Loved this post. I've seen a few Down Syndrome's on their jobs and they really bring life into perspective, and remind me that being a contributing member of one's community aka a real human being is more important than striving to be a wealthy arse-hole. I bet the blokes at work love having you around.

Sarah Lulu said...

Oh what a glorious story.

I want to visit the markets ...I want to sing Your the voice!!!!!