Working with an endangered species

High seas

With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, David Daniel muses on the problem of finding a reliable tradesman when necessity dictates.

Have you played yet? It's the new national pastime and it's called “waiting for a tradesman!” The rules are simple: you call and then you wait.

In the interim you might consider getting a degree, taking that holiday package tour of Europe incorporating 172 countries, 4051 cathedrals and 612 ruined castles or planting a crop of potatoes on the back deck.

For the mechanically challenged this is purgatory, a time when you stare vacantly into the middle distance waiting for a figure to appear in dark-blue King-Gs to fix things.

He's elusive ð they seek him here and they seek him there ð but apart from a quick initial visit to dismantle enough to ensure you are hopelessly stranded and entirely at his mercy, he disappears.

Where does he go?
Where does he go? Has he already calculated that your bill will give him the European tour with another 11 countries thrown in and allow him to After a while you call ð the phone never answers. You drop by the workshop – it's closed. You consider calling the police, the Missing Persons Bureau or tracing any living relatives.

You wake at night in a cold sweat sure that you heard the rumble of his engine, but it's only Meals on Wheels bringing you a late dinner. You have been referred to community organisations because concerned souls have found you wandering and disorientated in the boatyard and cradling the remains of a rusted wreck that people have told you was his last customer.

How did it come to this? How did this blue-clad species reach imminent extinction? How can they laugh at Workplace Agreements and go fishing? Because they are so rare, of course.


And why, you ask? Because the government in their wisdom decided some years ago to abandon the apprenticeship scheme. Years went by without the continuity of training being provided to ensure a skilled base in subsequent years.

The collective myopia of so many designer pairs of rimless glasses has led us into an era of no people to “fix things”. Talk about short-sighted, even for throwaway politicians!

Where did they expect the tradesmen to come from? Mars? Yes, the politicians are the real villains of the plot, not the tradespeople.

Fixing it yourself

Could you fix it yourself, you ask? You shudder at the memory of the last DIY effort as you watched the motor thrash itself to death in a grinding cacophony of noise and callisthenics – always a good sign you've connected something wrongly. Or the time you watched as the re-wired fan burst into a brilliant explosion of celestial proportions and rained molten plastic and copper into space!

Add to this the piece-de-resistance comment thrown over the shoulder of all disappearing tradesmen: “You don't have the tools, mate!” and you know you are defeated.

Last look

Rod Stewart is crooning “I am Sailing” as you climb the mast for a last long look around for the elusive species. You don't want to admit that the unconfirmed rumour you overheard in the Old Seamen's Home last night might be true ð that the last tradesman was stuffed and preserved this day and now lies in the Australian Museum of People that used to Fix Things!


David Daniel, alias Old Salty of Old Salty books and cartoons fame, sails The Catch, an Adams, with his hunter/provider, first mate Heather. At the time of writing they were heading north from Tin Can Bay without too many plans – and hoping nothing would break down so they needed a tradesman!

M.O.S.S Australia
NAV at Home
Jeanneau JY55
JPK August 2023