The Tea Trolley Ladies – The Glue That Kept The Office Together
I thought I would take a trip down memory lane and tell a tale or two about the awesome tea ladies who helped keep the morale alive and kicking in the office…
As I was waiting with my mum on Monday morning at the hospital, she said “gee, it would be good if the tea trolley appeared around about now.” I nodded my head in agreement and said I don’t think they do this in this part of the hospital anymore.
However, it did get me thinking about the past conversations I have had with many of my colleagues, family and friends regarding our earliest days at work and the awesome tea trolley ladies we had back then. There is much to be said regarding having a decent tea or coffee break once or twice during the work day. All too often we are head down and lose track of how we can be more kind to ourselves and give our poor tired brain a break.
During my time at the State Energy Commission of Western Australia (SECWA), the canteen near the top of the building was still in place and the tea trolley turned up on your floor at both morning and afternoon teatime. This was at a time when moving from one’s desk was not an option, except to get a cup of tea or coffee at the set breaks, and of course at lunch time. Many younger readers would be puzzled by this: talking to each other was a no no, working in teams – what was that? Sure you might be in a work team (a section within the organisation), but it wasn’t a true integrated team where you could inspire each other to great outcomes. You also had to be quiet. Permission was even needed to go to the toilet, unless you worked in areas where people moved in and out all the time, to undertake tasks in other parts of the organisation.
The tea trolley ladies were fabulous. When they arrived, you would grab you tea or coffee in shifts. It was like standing around the water cooler for a minute or two, where people would gather around the tea trolley and catch up. Different conversations would be the order of the day regarding whatever the latest news was and so on. Then, when your coworkers walked away, you could have a word or two with the tea ladies. The ladies were never grumpy. They always had a smile or two. They were a reliable source of information and new exactly what was going on around the place. It was almost like an intranet, but in human form 😂 Once the shifts were finished, the trolley would be left for half an hour or so and you could refill or return your empty cup, placing it underneath the trolley.
I remember my very first day working at SECWA. The morning tea trolley arrived. After a few minutes I went up to the trolley. I grabbed a cup, filled to with tea and then somehow managed to dunk my tie in it not once, but three times, after making a new cup each time 🤣 It was not my greatest workplace moment, but my work colleagues certainly remembered it for quite some time. However, the most awesome outcome was a conversation soon thereafter with my wife to be (Although, she laughed at me at the time).
These days, depending where you are, there are coffee vans that visit, you can pop out to the local cafe or stock up the workplace kitchen with as many varieties of tea that you like. And then you have that wonderful tea delivery experience in India (Chai Point). We also now have so many avid connoisseurs of High Tea. There is even a company where I live (High Tea In A Box) that will organise a high tea for you at home where the humble tea trolley finds itself resurrected once more. If you want to see some delightful reflections on the pleasures of tea drinking, visit childgirlwoman and the post: Tea Time – Romancing the Brew.
I always had a good relationship with the tea ladies. I recall for a number of years afterwards, they would always make me a cup of tea first up. Maybe it was their way of helping me to avoid a repeat of that first day! I’m only kidding, but they did look after me.
Lock Down Once Again!
So, here I am once again, like many others across the planet, in another lockdown. The irony is we had only several days ago moved to Phase 5 – complete freedom with only the opening of Australia’s borders (still a long way off in any case). What started out as wearing masks on Sunday turned into a snap, hard, lock down on Monday. The Delta Variant (DV) has managed to emerge in most Australian states very quickly, which is no different to its modus operandi around the world. In Western Australia (Perth and Peel Regions) we have been lucky to come through two earlier lockdowns this year without any impact. However, this time it is different. DV is passed with only the most fleeting of contacts. You can be well outside the required social distances and become infected. It is like we have gone back 12 months in time. The contact tracers and testing laboratories need the time that the lock down provides, in an effort to isolate and stamp DV out each time it emerges. It takes large amounts of resourcing and of course we can do that here (for now). Anyway, one hour at a time, half a day at a time, one day at a time we go. As Willedare (who is an awesome musical talent) says “breathe in breathe out”…