AFTER more than four decades on the job, Horsham Rural City Council local laws co-ordinator Maurice Rudolph retired on Friday.
The self-claimed ‘unpopular’ man started as a traffic officer with council when he was 19 years old.
“I started in a temporary position as the relieving traffic officer for three months because the other officer, Gerry Hawkins, was on long service leaves,” he said.
“I was ‘thrown to the wolves’ as it were.
“It didn’t take me long to work out that not all the motorists parking in Horsham were friendly.”
Mr Rudolph said after three months, he had no job and asked if there was any chance council could keep him on.
A position was created at the former Park Drive depot, now the location of Horsham Plaza’s back carpark.
“That was my leg in the door,” he said.
“My tasks included collecting garbage, painting public conveniences and even reading water meters while on annual leave.
“I eventually became the storeman, but still worked overtime as a traffic officer on the occasional Friday night or Saturday morning.
“I was the back-up traffic officer for when the other guy was on holidays.”
When Mr Hawkins retired, Mr Rudolph said he felt he was too young to replace him.
“So they hired someone else,” he said.
When the job came around again a couple of years later, Mr Rudolph said he was not offered the position but told he had to take it.
“So in late 1981, I became a full-time traffic officer on a rate of about $4 an hour,” he said.
In 1989, Mr Rudolph became the senior bylaws officer, taking care of a team of three staff that would remain the same for the next 18 years.
“That’s how 41 years disappeared,” he said.
“When the ranger, Wally Ballinger, retired in mid-2007 we’d had a total of two arguments since 1989. It was a good team.”
Mr Rudolph said his job involved something different every day.
“You can never predict what’s going to happen – if people are going to be nice or nasty,” he said.
“I’ve found that there are people from all walks of life and it’s interesting to deal with people who have done the wrong thing.
“Some of the excuses I’ve heard over the years are unbelievable.”
Mr Rudolph said it was important not to take things too seriously.
“People would come in and give me a spray, but I know they are just looking for someone to blame for their own mistake,” he said.
“I could never understand with things like dog registrations, you would tell someone their dog was unregistered and give them 14 days to pay it.
“Two weeks later they wouldn’t have paid so they would get a $300 fine – then they come into council asking for a payment plan.
“If you saw someone walking down the street, throwing $300 out of their pocket, you would think they were mad, but that’s basically what people do.
“I could never understand it.”
Mr Rudolph said one memorable case involved an older man who used to pretend to put coins in the meter.
“When I went past, he would always look like he was putting a coin in, but then he would take it out after I had gone,” he said.
“I worked out what was going on and I double backed once and found his meter expired.
“I wrote him out a fine and handed it to him through his car window – he didn’t do it again after that.”
Mr Rudolph also started umpiring football at 22, when he realised playing was not for him.
“Even though I was unpopular, the two jobs actually complemented each other,” he said.
“It gave me confidence to deal with conflict.
“I encourage more young people to take up umpiring – I love seeing a 16-year-old telling a 30-year-old that he’s doing the wrong thing.
“There is such a lack of respect for people in authority though nowadays.”
Mr Rudolph said he would continue umpiring through his retirement.
“I also want to enjoy more time with my grandchildren,” he said.
“I will have more time to do things I like, such as cooking, playing cards and travelling. My youngest daughter just moved to Europe to teach so I would like to go over and see her.
“I’ve been meaning to clean my windows for some time now too, so I might do that.”
Mr Rudolph said he wouldn’t get up to much mischief in his retirement.
“I definitely won’t be ringing council about barking dogs because I hated when people did that to me,” he said.
Friday marked 41 years, one month and 10 days since Mr Rudolph started work at Horsham Rural City Council.
Council planning and economic director Angela Murphy said he would be sorely missed.
“Maurice has achieved a great deal over his time with council, including leading the recent installation of the EasyPark system in the Horsham city centre,” she said.
“He has been a tireless worker and a well-respected member of staff, and he will be missed by many.
“Council congratulates Maurice on his retirement and wishes him all the very best for the future.”
Council staff gathered for a drink with Mr Rudolph on Friday afternoon.