The Big Short

The other night I was crammed on a homebound train. It was already full by the time we reached Richmond, at which time more commuters squeezed on – with bags and phones and bad breath. I was already standing and began to move down the carriage to make room. Unfortunately, the area I found myself standing in had no chair hand grips available, and the only possible way to steady myself was to reach, awkwardly and not effortlessly, for the straphang. It was a bumpy ride, and I am not overly endowed with balance any more than I am height, which resulted in me losing my equilibrium a couple of times. I seethed until Mitcham when the bloody seats started becoming available. Fuck being short. No, I’m not petite, I’m not delicate. Just short.

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It wasn’t until I was eight I realized I was short. It was when we were lining up for the class photo from tallest to shortest, and it emerged that I was the 3rd shortest girl in glass, which meant a guaranteed position in the front row. I don’t remember being bothered by it especially. That came later, when I was 12, and attempting to defend my goal patch from a towering Samoan goal keep. I just couldn’t get around her, and her long long legs and arms. It was then I was at a distinct disadvantage.

Aged 13, I would have done anything to get taller. I had boobs, and hips, but my blazer and pinafore were so big and long it looked like I was playing dress-ups. If only I were taller, it would stretch some of that embarrassing chubbiness out. All the cool girls were tall. I wanted to be cool and tall. I remained short and nerdy.

Two orthodontist appointments, between which I did not grow, were enough to convince me it was unlikely I would have a sudden growth spurt and that five foot three was all I was going to be allocated. Genetics were to blame: my mother is delicate 5 2 and my father a strapping 6 foot. I drew the short straw, it seemed.

So it seemed I would never be terribly far from the earth’s crust. In my 20s I struggled with boots and heels on a daily basis, but this was coupled with my general clumsiness, resulting in many ankle rolls.

So, just to have a whinge – some not so great things about being a short arse include:

– Not being able to get to the overhead locker on airplanes (I usually jump up and stand on a seat while people are filing out)
– Not being able to reach top cupboard, anywhere (step ladders for the win)
– Not bring able to have decent view in concert (Ridik, as I haven’t been to a mosh pit in at least 15 years)
– Having my tallest friend TPD rest his elbow / drinks on my head (quite funny actually)
– Not being able to turn the dryer on (this is annoying)
– Trousers needing to be taken up (Actually, I haven’t worn trousers in years as I look stupid. Jeans have a short length and that’s what I buy)
– Not being able to straphang on crowded trains without looking like I am doing lop sided star jumps (infuriating).

Some good stuff:
– Legroom on planes – never an issue
– Unlikely men are shorter than me (sexist, yes) (I can snuggle quite easily into LAH’s chest)
– Can fit on most couches and children’s beds quite comfortably (I used to sleep in A&Y’s then 6-year-old son’s bed very comfortably)
– Looking younger – perhaps. Was taken for early 30s down at the hairdresser. #winning.

Maybe I should just carry my 6 in heels for the train?

Jones? Jones.

I have to admit, I’ve been let down before. badly.

So I’m a bit gunshy when it comes to this particular thing.

It’s sort of like, you know, going into a new relationship when you have had your heart broken.

But I can’t stay locked in my protective chrysalis forever.

So, you know? I’m going to do it.

I am going to see this next week.

It’s 1993, clearly.

A person I work with was leaving the business, and last night there were some work drinks at a bar in the city that, happily, offered two for one basic spirits. After three hours of gin, I had to head to my next engagement, and duly said my goodbyes. There was some hugs and air kisses goodbye, but when I went to say goodbye to one person, what I vaguely suspected for some time was confirmed when she literally cold shouldered me. As in, she turned her back as I went to say goodbye to her. It was public and obvious, but in the interests of not embarrassing anyone any further, I laughed, shrugged and moved to the next person to say goodbye. I then went outside, lit a fag and walked down to the river for a wine with people I actually do like.

It had occurred to be that Cold Shoulder didn’t like me much – she is perfectly pleasant when other people are around but when other people aren’t she may freeze me out, or ignore me, or make snide comments. I haven’t tried to be her friend but have tried to build a cordial working relationship with her.

I am no threat to this woman whatsoever. I am reasonably certain I haven’t done anything to offend or upset her, apart from resigning after a short employment period, which isn’t anything to do with her. It did feel a little like third form behaviour from someone who is reasonably senior in an organisation.

Work drinks can be fun – and they are good to join when someone who is respected and liked is leaving. Which is probably why I won’t be having any when I leave in 2 weeks.

Not everyone likes everyone. And that’s fine and expected. But the abovementioned story, and others, illustrate as to why I won’t be sorry to leave that place at all.

What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?*

It occurred to me over the weekend that:

  1. I am quite hard on myself
  2. I catastrophize at every opportunity, and
  3. I put a lot of my emotional capital into my work

And as a result, the recent work upheaval has not been very good for my soul. I’ll say this though; I have had episodes of depression before – and this is not one of them. I am feeling a bit low, and a bit hopeless, and a bit frustrated, but I’m not crying or having dark thoughts that would give me cause to seek (more) help. Times have certainly sucked, but they have sucked harder.

We had a course on resilience at a former workplace. The general thrust of it was not to let the knocks of life get to you too much, and keep things in perspective, and have the ability to bend back into your previous shape after you are stretched. I guess resilience is just something I am going to have to start employing more.

And the whole thing has not been an entirely fruitless experience. If you ever end up reading my novel you may come across a character who is bloodless administrator with the warmth of a reptile. She may not entirely be a work of fiction.

 

*theatre reference

You can’t break up with me, I’m breaking up with YOU

Many years ago back in New Zealand, I was answering the phones in a busy call centre. The customer I was dealing with had a high bill enquiry, and asked for a discount overall on her bill if she paid the whole lot in one go, over and above her prompt payment discount.. Well, I had never come across such a situation before, so I called the call management desk to ask for a solution. No one answered. So I then called my TL who didn’t answer. After raising a case and promising to come back to the customer with an answer, and mindful I did not want to make a promise to the customer I was unable to keep or step outside my financial mandate, the call ended.

I then received a tap on the shoulder. My TL took me aside and said the reason she had not been answering my call is because she had been listening to the call for quality, and that I really must learn how to deal with those sorts of calls myself. I learned that day that was perfectly fine to offer a customer x percentage off the total bill in such a satiation and there was no reason why I shouldn’t have offered that. I weakly protested that I never had bene trained in that, and although iwas keen to show my initiative, I literally had n idea this was a business rule (there was no KM system to instruct me otherwise.) But I knew for next time and apologised to my TL for not knowing.

15 years later, I find myself in a role that I was recruited to, untrained for, and in an eerie similarity to the above situation, I was expected to know things that I had never learned before. I have tried, I made a deal with myself to give it a red hot go, and I have asked for help – but something was still not clicking. Sunday nights my stomach would be leaden with dread, knowing I had to face it the next day.

As often happens, some things came to a head this week, and on Monday and I went home for the day. The next day it was raised by my senior that this probably wasn’t the job for me. Feeling as if my credibility and confidence was being eroded, and after some soul searching, I came to the conclusion I would leave the role.

Here’s some observations:

  • 10 years ago I would have kept going, feeling like a failure, pushed shit up a hill for probably the same outcome in a month
  • At that time It would have completely floored me and devastated me
  • Now, I know that the problem isn’t just me. I was recruited to a role I was not suited to skillwise. I took a risk and it didn’t work out. But I didn’t do this all on my own and thus am not entirely culpable for what has happened
  • I’m not being weak or retreating but preserving my dignity and personal brand.

Now, others might say I have been put in a fairly shit position. My boss – the man who head hunted me – is feeling dreadful, and well he might – but the net outcome is I don’t have a job. For some people that might be confronting. For me? The lesson is learnt that such a role is not for me, a position description may or may not tell you everything you need to do; and that people can be duplicitous in a work environment.

Look, I’m not going to lie and say things are peachy, but it is far better to remove yourself from a shit situation like a job if its not working. Life is much much too short to not enjoy your work. It would have been better to get a new job before I resigned, but I have looked for work before and something more appropriate for me will emerge.

And I feel a lot better. And I have learned something. No point in getting fucked off. There are plenty of people worse off than me.

Where are you Rosie?

(Taken from The Age, Saturday 31st December 2011 – link here)

Twenty years ago this week, young mother Rosie Turner vanished from a busy holiday spot on the Mornington Peninsula. She left behind a young family and a police force struggling to find any leads in the case, which was, in the absence of any other real possibility, quickly upgraded to a murder enquiry. In 1993, a reward was offered for any information leading to the arrest for her murder. The case remains unsolved. So what did happen to Rosie Turner? AIDAN HEISS revisits one of the more baffling missing person’s cases of the 1990s.

It was a searingly hot late afternoon on 26th December 1991, and Constable Mike Fleishman, manning the front desk of the of Mornington police station, was looking forward to a night down at Mt Martha’s Safety beach with a nice cold beer.

‘It had been a long boring shift,’ he recalls. ‘Not much happens on Boxing Day at the station. We had had a couple of domestics the night before, too much festive spirit in both cases, but the next day had been filled with paperwork and that sort of stuff. Not much happening.’ Little did Fleishman realise that the report he was about to file would be the very start of one of the most baffling inquiries in Mornington police, and Victorian, history.

Two burly men in their late 30s walked in to the station just before 7pm. One of them was Melbourne man Paul Turner, who advised the desk constable that his wife, 31 year old Rosie, had gone to the shops and had not come back. ‘[He] looked sweaty and concerned. His mate did a lot of the answering for him’. Turner explained that his family were holidaying in the camping ground at Rye having come from Melbourne; his wife had gone down to the local supermarket to buy the evening meal three hours’ before and had not returned. The two men had found her car at the supermarket but Mrs Turner was nowhere to be seen. Duly taking the details, Fleishman was concerned but not alarmed, even after notifying his sergeant, Gil Caruthers.

‘We thought it sounded like it was a young mum taking some time out from the family at a stressful time of year, and she would probably be back that evening after having some time to her herself.’ But Turner was insistent, the police officers remember. ‘He said it was completely unlike her and the car was still in the car park but she wasn’t and he just couldn’t understand it. In fact his mate with him was trying to keep him calm, saying pretty much what we were saying – that she had probably taken some time out and would be back soon. That’s honestly what we thought was likely at that stage.’

Caruthers and Fleishman made their way to the car park and found the vehicle, as described, over the opposite side of the lot, about a 100 metres from the supermarket entrance. This was apparently quite normal for Rosie Turner, who often parked miles away from other cars.

‘She wasn’t that good at parking,’ her best friend, Rhonda O’Reilly, remembers fondly. ‘There were many minor scrapes from her parking on the front and sides of her car. We used to tease her about it all the time’. There was nothing odd about the family’s 1986 Mazda, except for the fact the passenger door was unlocked and the seat was drawn back much further than Rosie would have normally had it, who was known for driving with her knees touching the steering wheel. The wallet she was believed to have been carrying was not in the vehicle.

No staff at Rye Coles could remember serving Rosie.  It was likely Rosie had never entered the supermarket as she had presumably planned. But why? Had she been distracted? Had she changed her plans? Had she decided to walk back to the campsite instead? The car’s petrol tank was half full and there was no other problem with the vehicle that would have prevented her driving it.

Turner told police he, his wife and their children, aged 10 and 13, had spent much of the afternoon at the Rye’s front beach, relaxing and swimming in the lagoon. It had been a still, hot afternoon, the last of a stretch of days in southern Victoria over 30 degrees.  Around 4pm, Rosie had mentioned that she would go to the supermarket to grab a couple of things for the evening meal, despite the caravan fridge being crammed with Xmas leftovers. She picked up her towel and her sunglasses, waved goodbye and then walked up the beach to the campsite, about 300 metres away. That was the last he had seen her, he said. It was quite normal for Rosie to take the car for such short runs to the supermarket, as she hated carrying shopping home, and on a hot day as this it would be quite uncomfortable. Given the traffic conditions at that time of the day, it wouldn’t have taken her more than seven minutes to get to the supermarket where the car was later discovered.

Ten year old Melissa had gone back to the caravan about 5pm, hoping her mum had bought her the promised icy pole, and found no sign of her mum or the car. Melissa ran back to the beach where her father and brother still were. Turner and his friend, Gary O’Reilly, went for a quick ride in Gary’s car about 5pm, thinking that maybe Rosie’s car had broken down and was stuck waiting for some help. But there was no Rosie in her car that they found or in the supermarket. Fearing the worst, and without a phone to use that was any closer, Turner and O’Reilly stopped in at the nearest police station and reported Rosie missing.

As the hours stretched on and the sun began to set, things began to take a more serious turn. Turner remained at the police station, while several police teams were dispatched to search the streets around the Rye and Rosebud areas in the dimming light, asking at local houses and the local taverns and restaurants, as well as searching bushland and scrub by the beach. There was no sign of Rosie, her wallet, her car keys, or anything else that belonged to her. People don’t just evaporate into thin air. Where was she? Had she somehow headed back to Melbourne from the peninsula? There was little public transport from the area on the Boxing Day public holiday – had she decided to hitch her way out of town?

Rosie Turner was an attractive woman: 5’5, of medium build, deeply tanned with shoulder length brown permed curly hair. When she was last seen, she wearing a knee length white muslin dress and brown thongs. Another holidaymaker, a 15 year Melbourne boy, said he saw Rosie driving out of the camping ground at about 4.15. He didn’t speak to her but he knew it was Mrs Turner as he knew her son Jeff quite well. One local woman came forward and said she saw a woman matching Rosie’s description walking in the opposite direction to the campsite, past the Rye Pub, at about 7.30pm that evening. That was after her worried husband had made his way to the police station, but before any police cars were out on the road with her description. The witness said the woman was wearing a white dress and carrying a cloth shopping bag over a shoulder. She did not see her face.

Rosie Turner has not been since alive since that day.

So who was Rosie Turner? She was known as a practical sensible woman, who, if she was going to be delayed, or if she had bumped into a friend down at the car park and gone for a quick cup of tea, would have certainly tried to let her family know. No such friends ever came forward. She wasn’t the sort just to run off and not tell anyone, or go anywhere without her children.

Born Rosemary Louise Pritchard in Melbourne in 1960, Rosie had led an unremarkable life. She was the only child of Tess and Simon Pritchard, the latter of which had left the family when Rosie was still young. Tess, a seamstress, had had to work hard to keep food on the table, and she and her daughter were extremely close. Even as an adult, it would be rare that Rosie and her mother wouldn’t speak. “They were a tight knit unit”, a friend from school recalls. ‘There wasn’t much Rosie did without her mother.’ Indeed, the summer of 1991 was the first one that ‘Nana Tess’ as the kids called her, had not joined the family on the summer holiday, having recently moved house.

Rosie left school at 16 and worked for her mother, who by that stage had started a successful tailoring business in Brunswick. She met Paul Turner, an ex-Vietnam serviceman turned carpenter, at a pub in Collingwood in 1977; theirs was a whirlwind courtship and they married in March 1978. The reason for their haste was explained when their first child, Jeffrey, was born five months later. A daughter, Melissa, followed a three years after and the couple settled in modest Pascoe Vale, in Melbourne’s north.

By all accounts Rosie was a devoted mother to her two children. ‘She was a very young mother of course, but no-one loved their kids more than Rosie did,’ Rhonda O’Reilly remembers fondly. Neighbours from the time agreed: ‘she was always in the front garden laughing and playing with her children,’ another says: ‘they used to have a totem tennis pole out the front and I remember seeing her laughing and playing with them.’ Rosie had suffered from what is now commonly termed post natal depression after the birth of Melissa in 1981, but seemed to recover well.

The family had spent their holidays down in the camping ground for many years, camping with another family, the O’Reillys. It was the annual trip that Rosie always looked forward to. She loved lying down on the beach – although strict with applying sunscreen to her children, she held herself above that rule, tanning herself for hours on end.

Inspector Bob Riley, leading the enquiry, publically stated on the 28th December that there were grave concerns for the welfare of Mrs Turner, and for anyone with any information to come forward to give the family some comfort. With the lack of any evidence that Rosie was still alive, after three days, the police began to accept that Rosie may have been the victim of foul play.

As the inquiry progressed, several others came and spoke to the police about what they thought had happened to Rosie. One distant acquaintance, not seeing the media reports until several days after, thought he had seen her on the ferry to Queenscliff from Sorrento on or about the 28th of December, but did not speak to her. Another witness said he had seen a male who looked like he was in his 50s driving the Mazda down a back street of Rye at 4.30pm – well before Rosie was reported missing and presumably while her family were still at the beach.

Paul Turner told the police and media theirs was a content, happy marriage, ‘we had the usual ups and downs, but we are a happy family,’ he said to an assembled press conference, on New Year’s Eve. ‘I just want her to come home. We love her and need her home. The kids need her home.’

But what of Paul Turner himself? Devastated at the disappearance of his wife, footage of the press conference showed him looking tired, drawn and unshaven. A man clearly in distress with the family’s upheaval – a devoted father and husband. But some people remember Turner slightly differently. A former mate from the armed services remembers Turner had a filthy temper when he was drunk. ‘When he had had a few, he liked to pick fights. There was one night in a pub he bought down a tray of drinks on a blokes head’. It was said Turner’s time in Vietnam had scarred him – he hadn’t been the same when he came back – this was the way it was for many veterans of Australia’s dismal involvement in Vietnam. Was his temper something Rosie sought to flee from? Had she been on the receiving end of his temper and one day simply had enough? But surely she would have made arrangements for her children? Things just didn’t add up.

To this day, many friends of the Turners utterly unconvinced that the Turner marriage was anything but a normal one. ‘I am sure they had their problems’; Rhonda O’Reilly says today, ‘but to say Paul had anything to do with her disappearance? Completely ludicrous. They loved each other and adored their children.’ There is no record of any domestic disturbances between the Turners and there were no reports of the children having anything but happy childhoods. At the inquest into Rosie’s death in 1998, Coroner Jacqui Hardling made a point of saying that she ‘was satisfied that Mr Turner had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance and likely death’.

The week after Rosie went missing, army searchers were dispatched to thoroughly search the ground of the peninsula, hoping to find some sign of her. Throughout the hot month of January, soldiers worked in the blistering heat, cutting through swathes of dense bush and steep dunes, looking for any trace of the young mum. There was some excitement when a dress resembling the one she had last been seen in was found in the bush at Portsea back beach, but it could not be proven to be Rosie’s and was later established to be a local woman’s.

There was the possibility, however remote, that Rosie had chosen to disappear, even that she had fled the state, or even Australia, and was now living under another name. But surely she would need money to pack up her life and leave? Police duly checked her credit card account which had not been touched and no withdrawals had been made from her joint accounts she held with her husband either. There was no odd activity beforehand that would indicate any untoward intentions. Her passport was in a drawer beside her bed at home in Pascoe Vale and a new one had not been applied for.

What about suicide? There was the short episode of depression after the birth of her second child, but there had been no record of her seeking help since. Had Rosie secretly been unhappy? Had the stress of Xmas gotten to her, the cramped confines of the caravan been too much, and she had snapped? And she had chosen to walk out into the waves of the beach and drowned herself? It seems so unlikely, that on a busy beach on  such a hot day crammed with locals and holiday makers enjoying the relief of the cool bay water she would be able to do this undetected. In any case, detectives determined that the tides of the area would have carried her body back to shore soon enough.

It was a busy time of year and the streets and beaches were crowded.  So how did a person just vanish?

The only other real possibility was that Rosie had been the victim of foul play and that someone had had a hand in her disappearance. Someone out there knew what happened to her. Had this person been watching her and with her family? Had they followed her to the carpark and made an advance on the attractive young mum? And then driven her car to a spot to dump her, explaining the sighting of the man in the car at 4.30, and why the car’s driver seat was so far back? How did this person manage to get into the car?

The Mazda was examined by fingerprint experts who found no evidence of anyone but Rosie or her husband being in the car.

Turner continued to live in Melbourne with his children. Whispers circulated around the community as to his involvement, and he found himself shunned by several friends.  Turner sold his carpentry business in 2004 and moved to Shepparton. He refused to comment on this story when contacted. The Turner children, now adults, are believed to be living in Melbourne.

In 1998, seven years after her disappearance, Melbourne Coroner Jacqueline Hardling declared Rosemary Turner legally dead. In a statement, he said ‘I find that Rosemary Elizabeth Turner of Melbourne died on or about the 26th December 1991, in the area of Rye, Mornington peninsula. I also find that there was a person or persons unknown that had a hand in this death, and that the likely cause of death was homicide.’

In February 1993, Mornington police had offered a reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of person or persons related to the matter of the disappearance of Rosemary Turner on or about the 26th December 1991. This produced a number of phone calls, mostly in the form of clairvoyants. But one lead did arise from the information received at the time which led police to question for the very first time a former boyfriend of Rosie’s, Mr Tom Harris, whom the source said had confided in him years before that ‘Mrs Turner had needed to leave her husband and he helped her obtain a false passport and leave the country that night out of Melbourne airport.’ Harris was at the time a well-regarded property investor in Melbourne, living in South Yarra with his wife and small child. He had had a romance with Rosie as a teenager, but told police he had not seen her for many years, and although saddened by news of her disappearance, had no idea where she could be or what had happened to her. His belief at the time was that an old business acquaintance, who he had fallen out with, had wanted to embarrass him publicly.

Another lead came in 1995, when a man was arrested for indecent assault on a woman camping in Rye. In an uncanny resemblance to the Turner case, 29 year old Megan O’Hare had been staying at the same ground as the Turner family four years before when she was attacked while taking a run along the beach in August. The assailant, identified as 35 year old unemployed man Ben Moonee, dragged the petite O’Hare to a bush under a culvert and indecently assaulted her, before being disturbed by a passer-by who had heard her cries for help. She later identified Moonee, who had a history of violence against women and girls dating as far back as when he was 14. Questioned about the disappearance of Rosie, he became truculent and resistant, saying he had never heard about Rosie Turner. Moonee was sentenced to a minimum ten years’ jail for the assault. Only 5 months into his sentence, Moonee committed suicide by electrocuting himself with the television cord in his cell. He left no note.

In the absence of a body, rumours abounded in the years after Rosie’s disappearance that she was still alive and living in Horsham, having started a new life with a new name.

Police, however, are convinced Rosie was the victim of foul play, and refuse to be drawn on any suspects. ‘This is still an open case, and for legal reasons we are unable to discuss with the media or disclose any of our suspects,’ states Detective Inspector Doug Low, now leading the inquiry,’We will say that there are a number of persons of interest at this stage and we continue to work to solve what we think was a murder of a devoted wife and mother. To say it’s a cold case would be inaccurate.’

Twenty years on, her family and friends still wait for news of what happened to Rosie Turner.

#losingmysmug

When people would confide in me how busy their jobs were, so busy and stressed, not enough hours in day etc, I’d be sympathetic, of course, but smugly, quietly think to myself: ‘couldn’t you manage your time a bit better, just maybe?’ After all, a bit of organisation goes a long way, right?

I was wrong. After three years in non challenging role, I was headhunted by a competitor, and commenced new role. To say it’s challenging would be an understatement. Last 2 weeks have been steadily busy. As in 8am til 9pm some days. Lunch at 3. Busy. To the point of stress. To the point of anxiety.

Three days’ off to celebrate the Queen’s birthday has been very very welcome.

Stay tuned for some writing, shortly.