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Aussie Flags at Work, a Tale of Joy and of Triumph

  • My Facebook feed threw up a memory from a couple of years ago that I though you'd enjoy. This is all completely 100% true and not exaggerated at all ... keep in mind - I work at a pretty large Community Organisation that provides critical services in the local community for things like abused kids, battered wives, homeless, recently arrived migrants, emergency shelter, affordable accomodation, disability and NDIS services etc so there are a LARGE number of people with Social Work and Arts degrees ...

    We had a Flagpole sitting in the back corner of our property, for years. I've been coming here since 2003 and its been sitting there since way before then judging by the rust and undergrowth around it. I was in the kitchen one day making coffee when I opined loudly that I would take that old flagpole home and stick it in my front yard and run a flag up it. I did this deliberately as the crotchety old bloke who ran the Community Garden down one side of our property was in there stealing our coffee and milk, as usual, because he thinks he's 'staff' ... and I knew he'd be all over this because he's always trying to knock our shit off to put into the garden. And BINGO! Within 24 hours the flagpole moved to the center of the garden complete with brand new Aussie flag flying proudly from it. My mate the Caretaker and I keel over laughing the next day as we sip our Nescafe Blend 43 and in my best George Peppard voice I say 'I love it when a plan comes together'. And that I thought was the end of it.

    But you see, I had totally forgotten the nature of our organization here at work. My 'gift' was about to set into motion one of the greatest running gags I have ever been fortunate enough to witness.

    Within a week ... nay, it may have been 3 days at most, one of the Middle Aged, Arts Degree wielding, perpetually offended on other peoples behalfs, hausfraus we have here fired off a sternly worded missive, to ALL of course, asking - nay DEMANDING to know who gave the Gardens people permission to fly an Australian Flag on the grounds of our workplace with NO CONSULTATION TO RELEVANT STAKEHOLDERS OR STAFF AND IN CONTRAVENTION OF OUR ORGANISATIONS POLICIES AND STATED AIMS!!! Now readers, to say I was delighted at this unexpected and unanticipated turn of events would be a MASSIVE UNDERSTATEMENT. I was as giddy as a schoolgirl who'd just seen One Direction for the first time (OMG, Zayne is like so hot right girls?!?!).

    Now, our workplace would hold a 'Welcome to Country' ceremony everytime we open a new catering sized tin of Nescafe Blend 43, complete with an Aboriginal Elder paid to attend for an hour to berate every white person about which ever alleged massacre of aboriginal people happened locally in this area or let us know how connected they are with the rock in the quarry next door, so you can get the vibe of whats going to happen here ...

    So, by the end of the day there is a flurry of increasingly shrill emails going around with everyone joining in and hitting REPLY ALL and the old pommy bugger from the Community Garden is told to take his flag down - temporarily. Because, and anyone who's worked in Government or quasi government organisations will tell you, we are about to setup a 'Working Party'. Now, don't let the name fool you. A 'Working Party' doesn't do any actual work. That's not its intended purpose. It's a team of individuals, some selected for particular skills or experience, some joining because of their interest in what the team is about/doing, and some sent by their Department Managers because each Department needs a presence on said 'Working Party'. Now, I have a conundrum here Readers. Do I volunteer to be on this so called 'Working Party' out of sheer morbid curiosity, or continue working from the sidelines and enjoying this slow moving train wreck? Is a tough conundrum ladies and gentlemen. There could also be at least one cake or Morning Tea involved here and I am a big fan of free food. The downside is sitting around with half a dozen of these 50 year old harpies, all of whom are whiter than Casper the Friendly Ghost, and equal deeply upset that someone would have the temerity to flag the Australian Flag without asking them first.

    I really do like free catered lunches and morning teas that you can get during these 'Working Parties' ...

    In the end I elect to just grab a chair, some popcorn and sit and watch ... and quietly snipe from the sideline ...

    It's at this point I'd like to point out that I was already undertaking a long running campaign stretching back almost 5 years to annoy the shit out of someone ... I am still unsure who it is/was as its still ongoing ... We have a number of Meeting Rooms and in one someone printed out 3 coloured flags. No more than lets say 10cm wide and 5cm high and laminated. They are the Australian Flag, The Aboriginal Flag and the Torres Strait Islander Flag. They are all bluetacked in a nice neat row, one after the other. What I like to do is sneak in there and raise the Australian Flag exactly half a centimetre higher than the other two flags, just enough so it's noticeable. And then I run away giggling because I know that within a week at most someone will put it back down to being in line with the other two. I know it's childish - but I am a very childish person who finds join not only in other people's misery but also from very simple things. To this day, as this is still going on, I am not sure if the person re-aligning the flags, is doing it out of their need to make sure everything is equal, or because they have major OCD issues and need everything lined up. I may never know, and I'm fine with that as both sit equally well with me.

    But I digress ...

    Within a speedy 3 months or so the 'Working Party' comes up with a plan of utterly stunning brilliance. They're going to buy 2 more flagpoles so they can fly the Aboriginal and TI flags beside the Australian Flag in the Garden ... on the opposite side of the property where no-one can see them. And there is much rejoicing. Stakeholders and 'Interested Parties' have been assuaged. Which is where I step in again ... I hit REPLY all after the orgy of self congratulations around the Organisation ... 'shouldn't we get 3 new flagpoles? I mean after all, if you are going to fly the Australian, Aboriginal and TI Flags, shouldn't we also fly the State Flag as well, especially considering 99% of our funding comes from the State Government and its their Ministers, petty functionaries and State Government Staff who visit us on a daily basis? Hand Grenade lobbed I head to the shops to buy Karage Chicken and pretend I know how to use chopsticks like a pro for onlookers.

    It comes as no surprise that a NEW 'Working Party' is to be formed to investigate the proposal to include the State Government flag to the growing number of flagpoles that are to be purchased and I am giggling at the thought of the back corner of work looking like the UN forecourt. After several meetings of this new 'Working Party' its decided that a third flagpole will be purchased for the State Government flag. And there is much rejoicing.

    It's at this point that I helpfully mention to the CEO over Sushi (cause thats how I roll) that we already have a second giant flagpole already on-site ... right beside the fucking driveway as you enter the property that everyone has driven past twice a day for over 20 years and forgot about ... it's bigger than the one in the Garden and right where everyone can see. He glares at me like he's just found out I've been knocking off his daughter and says 'Don't you fucking say a word to anyone!!!'. I assure him I won't say anything to anyone.

    So that afternoon I'm outside walking around the property with my mobile phone 'testing the wifi signal strength' in various areas. One area I test is down next to the driveway near the entrance to the site. Its not near any particular building or near anywhere anyone would need wifi, but I feel its important in my role as the IT Manager to ensure Wifi access is available everywhere On-Site. I decide to lean against the giant flagpole as people are out after knocking of at 4pm. I cheerfully wave to them while leaning on the flagpole and wish them a 'Good Evening'.

    The next morning both the CEO and I are totally amazed, even shocked you might say, that someone asks 'Why don't we use the flagpole at the front of the site?'. I reply to my CEO's email of 'YOU BASTARD!!!' with 'I didn't say nothing to noone!!!' which is 100% true. The CEO cans the entire project in disgust. And this was the end of the whole saga ... or so I thought!

    2 months later a small wooden 3 mast flagpole display/stand arrives in Reception. Its a trendy little mahogany looking thing, just shy of 6ft tall with three flagpoles - one in the centre and the other two either side at a slight angle. An email is sent to ALL again - come look at our new flag display in Reception, we're proud to represent who we are and what we stand for.

    Now, as everyone knows, I'm an 'Educator' at heart. I like to help people learn and understand the world around us, not for any personal gain, kudos or ego, but to help enrich the lives of others. So I hit 'REPLY ALL' ... and said ... 'According to Part 2 of The Protocols for the Appropriate Use and the Flying of the Flag' issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet the Australian National Flag MUST take precedence or be in the place of HIGHEST honour in ANY display of Flags be they other National Flags or State/Territory flags. Figure 12 in the document shows that in a display of the type we proudly have on display in Reception the Australian National Flag MUST be in the CENTRE with the Aboriginal flag on the LEFT and the TI Flag on the RIGHT. The current setup of Australian Flag, Aboriginal FLag, TI Flag is in violation of Australian Government Protocol for the Appropriate Use and the FLying of the Flag.

    Next day - the flags were re-arranged to the correct order and the CEO's eye has twitched ever since.

    I still move the Australian flag in that meeting room a little higher than the others every few weeks for shits and giggles.

    Sometimes ... I get bored at work and need to do things to amuse myself, and fuck the system 😉

    And we still have two giant flagpoles in our compound ... with no flags at all 😞

  • haha that was well worth reading! good fun indeed 😂

  • You can only change Wikipedia entries so much before you need more fulfilling shenanigans ...

  • I did enjoy your story.

  • Reading that, I could see the glee in your face. I remember that look you used to get winding up Mr Jones. Your CEO must get that same redfaced head about to explode look when dealing with your shenanigans that he used to.

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