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  • Robert Day


It was 1990 and the “recession that we had to have” was starting to bite. Many of my architect friends had lost their jobs in previous months and I was lucky enough to still have mine, that was until the one morning we were all called to a meeting and told that the practice would shut. Now I was also looking for work. The next few months would be a steady stream of joy and disappointment where no sooner had I found a new job, I was then laid off under the last on-first-off employment doctrine. Eventually I found a job that I not only enjoyed but was able to stay in employment for more than a month. Finally I felt like I had some degree of job security.

Everything changed when I received a phone call from one of my old bosses, the one who had laid me off at the start of the year. He said that he had a proposition for me and that I should drop into his office on my way home. For the next few hours my mind ran wild. What did he want? Does he want to offer me a job? Do I want to work for him again? etc. etc. Anyway when I arrived at his office he stuck a beer in my hand and then proceeded to tell me how the day before he’d met a Japanese man on the golf course, who coincidentally was also an architect. He had projects in Australia and was looking for a young Australian architect to take over from the guy who was currently working for him in Japan who was about to head back to Australia.

I instantly responded, “Why would I want to do that?’ David replied, “Mate, how many jobs have you had this year?... 7? 8? Don’t be an idiot. This is a 12-month contract and think what a great experience it would be” Reluctantly I agreed to meet the Japanese gentleman at Brisbane International Airport the next night.

When I arrived into the airport the next night David introduced me to Toshi Kondo (He later become known to me as Kondo-san or Mr Kondo). Kondo-san proceeded to tell me about the fellow who worked for him in Japan and some of the projects that he was working on at the Gold Coast. He then began to scribble some things on a piece of paper. He drew an apartment layout along with a variety of numbers. He said "This is the apartment and this what I can pay you. What do you think?” I wasn't sure what was really going on and responded with “Yeah, that looks okay”. Mr Kondo responded with great delight “That’s fantastic! I can’t wait for you to come and work for me in Japan” My jaw dropped. What had just happened? Apparently I had agreed to one of most vague and loose employment proposal? David slapped me on the back, laughed and shouted “Shit mate…It looks like you’re going to Japan!”

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