Hi, I'm Zac, Australia's Worst Tradie

Hi, I'm Zac, Australia's Worst Tradie

I’m Zac, TradeMutt's Marketing Manager. I’ve been working in marketing agencies for years and now I’ve been at TradeMutt for a year. When I was hired, I told Ed and Dan I wasn’t much of a tradie. That was a bit of an understatement. Dan reckons I don’t know which end of a hammer to hold. That’s probably true. But I didn’t start working at TradeMutt because I wanted to be a tradie.

I started working at TradeMutt because I miss my cousin.

He wasn’t a tradie but he was a parts supervisor out at Mazda at Springwood just before he died. And it wasn’t his mental health that killed him either. It was his heart. He was too bloody young. Just twenty-four, I think, which I reckon I should know but all I know is that in my head he was my younger cousin.

For ages it was just him and then a big gap to my next boy cousin on Dad’s side. We’re a Dutch family on that side so all of us boys look about the same. Stick us in a line up and we’re just about brothers. Me, my brother Josh, our cousin Jay, his brother Jared, and our cousin Matt. It’s Jared that’s no longer with us.

He didn’t take his own life but he fought the black dog for too long at too young for it to not be part of it. He wasn’t the healthiest bloke but that was a symptom, you know? Just battling through it like drinks and durries and drugs and everything the way that we all do when we’re a bit younger. I’ve had my spell of habits like that in the past, fighting my own battles in and out of relationships, after university, just a bit stuck and swirling.

But he had the worst of it. I’m not sure why. I don’t reckon I’ll ever know why. He grew up in a loving household and he always knew that and I reckon that was part of his guilt too. That he shouldn’t be feeling like that and like he should be able to just be happy with it all. We know it’s not that easy.

The hardest part is that he was on the road to recovery when it happened. He’d volunteered at Headspace for a year or two before he passed away instead of working because he struggled to keep jobs that weren’t retail down. And the volunteering helped him because he could chat to people going through what he was going through. He could have conversations. He was still a big bloke right to the end but you could see he was getting better. Like he had a smile on his face and you could always see it now — partly because he was as tall as a house and just about as broad as one. He’d gotten himself a girlfriend too. Facebook official and everything.

And then he had a house party at his parents’ place with some friends of his like he used to do from time to time. Nothing crazy. A late one on a Friday or a Saturday or something, I can’t remember. But it was a weekend. My aunty, his Mum, is a nurse. He was asleep when she left for a weekend shift, probably snoring off a hangover like a chainsaw, and my uncle his Dad had gone out for the today, probably cycling — which he does even more now —, and he was still asleep then too. But when she came home from work he wasn’t asleep. He was lying on the tiles between his bedroom and the bathroom where his heart had just stopped.

Like I said: it wasn’t suicide that got him but it was his mental health that got his physical health. Sort of like having a cheap pair of shoes which you treat badly which makes them break down which makes you care even less how you treat them.

I miss him because I’ll never get to see him again. And I miss him because, selfishly and not proudly, the last thing I said to him was on Messenger asking for his help getting on. If you don’t know what that means, that’s alright. Just know I’m not proud of it. If you do: go say something, anything, else to the friends that help you out. Right now.

I didn’t ask him that the night of. It was like a week or something before that. In truth I haven’t gone back to read it for a long time. I just remember being at dinner with my girlfriend at the time — my fiancé eventually but not anymore but we can get to that another time — and Dad called. I was eating Peking duck at a place at Sunnybank and I just remember that it couldn’t be true. I remember crying behind the wheel the whole way home.

So I started working at TradeMutt because they were looking for a Marketing Manager. I was pretty sure I could sell workshirts with Facebook ads and emails. But mostly I wanted to make sure that people like Jared know, well before they need to, that someone’s always ready to listen. That there’s always someone to talk to. Whether that’s someone in a TradeMutt shirt or whether it’s a professional at TIACS.

If you’ve bought a TradeMutt shirt since February last year, you’re helping me keep Jared alive as much as I can. The more the merrier. I don’t know if he knew about the shirts or about TIACS but I reckon he’d be into them. He’d have a few choice words about some of the patterns, I’m sure, but he’d find one he loved and he’d wear it to death.

If you’re around south-east Brisbane, Redland Bay, or Logan and you wanna drop in and say g’day to Jared he’s at the Great Southern Memorial Park at Mt Cotton. If you listen close enough you’ll be able to still hear his laugh I think. I know I can.

Cheers legends,