Have you ever had that feeling you’ve seen someone before, but you can’t quite remember where? I feel this might be a common thought for those visiting Lord Howe Island.
As we have a very small population, combined with limited staff accommodation for Island businesses, it is not unusual for one person to work multiple jobs. Sometimes one person preforms multiple jobs at various locations in the same day. These people are the backbone of the tourism industry on Lord Howe Island.
There are two stand out residents who might be the most employed on the Island.
The first is a local mum. When I first met her, she was working in housekeeping at one of the lodges, pulling beers at the bowling club, working at Joy’s Shop, working in the coffee shop at the airport and picking up small catering jobs and additional housekeeping jobs on the side.
The other is a heritage Islander who milks his cows twice a day every day, runs our local petrol station, does mechanic and refrigeration work and re fuels the planes at the airport! He’s in his 80’s now and I don’t think he’ll ever stop working.
Many of our tradesmen will never retire as there’s just no one to replace them. There’s not many 100% retired people on Lord Howe. As much as they try to retire, they are still called upon to fix water leaks, power problems, broken fridges – the list goes on! It’s also amazing how news quickly spreads of a tradesman who is visiting the island, even if they’re on holiday!
I also feel sorry for our visiting Telstra technician. As much as it’s annoying to have to wait up to eight weeks or the Telstra man to visit, the poor guy is hounded the minute he arrives. Many island residents can’t be bothered calling Telstra to lodge a fault so they just wait till they find out through the grapevine the Telstra man is about to arrive. Everyone knows where he’s staying on the Island (probably before he does) and they seek him out as soon as he steps off the plane. He has told many time, and time again to lodge the faults so he can spend more time on the island fixing them. A trip to sort out five jobs can quickly turn into 25 jobs which he just can’t get to with the amount of time allocated!