The job I love ... building a nest

I lay bricks for a living and it is the job I love. It hasn’t always been like that though.

Nineteen years ago my father offered me an apprenticeship in bricklaying and I jumped at the chance as I really wanted a trade behind me. Dad was a great boss and teacher – he took a lot of pride in what he did and I clearly remember him saying early on in the game, “Build this house as though it was your own.” I finished my apprenticeship the day I turned twenty-one and was quite an accomplished brickie.

Neat and quick were the two traits I had strived for and now I had both.

In my early twenties I went to the other side of Australia and continued laying bricks over there but I had started to lose the quality I once had. Now it was just about getting the job done – I was still neat and quick but couldn’t care less about who was going to live in the house I was building. At this point in life I was abusing substances and in a short time it got to the point where I was working six and sometimes seven days a week to support my habits.

I was a wreck, but at the same time my boss loved me as not only was I still neat and quick, but was also more than capable in setting out jobs, unlike his other workers. He saw me as committed, but the only thing I was committed to was to feed my growing habits.

My life had no meaning to it

I was working, going home and getting smashed and then going to work again, but whilst I was at work all I wanted to do was get smashed. I had no spark in me – the only times I was excited about anything was when I had chemicals in me.

I continued this way of life for many years until I ended up really hating what I was doing. I thought it was my work that I was so sick of, but after giving up the drugs and alcohol, my life started to turn around. My attitude towards life changed – I didn’t see it as this huge struggle anymore, it was like a lot of the pressure had been taken off my shoulders and I was more free to actually get on with living, instead of feeling trapped in this vicious cycle of getting nowhere, which was exactly what was happening.

My attitude towards life changed, I didn’t see it as this huge struggle anymore...

I stuck with the job I love and started seeing it in a new way (really it was the old way I was taught but with a new perspective). I now see it as building nests for families to live in and I want them to live in beautiful homes, just as I would.

We used to have a saying years ago, “Don’t live to work – work to live.” Well I have changed that around – work is not all I have in my life, but it is a big part and I have a talent that I want to share with the community.

I work for my brother now, he is my boss but I see him as my partner and we do great work. We often work six days a week as the demand for us is high.

I love working these days and I don’t work the six days just for the money – my quality in bricklaying is being called for and I am only too willing to share that quality.

It is all so easy now since it is the job I love

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  • By Tony Steenson, Brick/Blocklayer

    Happily married and with two adult children,Tony is a deeply caring and passionate man who loves the simple things in life such as sharing a meal or helping out friends and family.