13 Mar 2017

The Joy Project: Ted Pearce

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From THE JOY PROJECT, 10:55 am on 13 March 2017

Ted Pearce, 63, works in traffic management. He lives in Christchurch with his wife Jean.

Join us through March as a diverse group of New Zealanders share what makes them happy.

I wouldn’t be doing this job if I didn’t enjoy it. I really enjoy making sure people are safe and making sure they have a good experience on the roads. That’s not always possible, but if you can make sure they understand why a road is closed so they’re happy with how things have been done, that goes a long way. I’m a straight up and down sort of person and I like to communicate face to face, I hate texts and emails. I enjoy the fact that by talking to someone you get so much more respect. It’s probably a bit old-school, but that’s what I’ve learned in life.

I’ve worked in traffic management since 2001. I started out in life as a carpenter, then I worked at the Firestone tyre factory for 31 years. I got into this sort of work when my oldest son did the first-ever Weetbix kids Tryathlon in Christchurch. I got into traffic management as a volunteer through my involvement with the Canterbury Tri Club, then I ran my own events business for eight years. I started working for Traffic Management New Zealand after the earthquakes. Civil traffic management was a bit of a learning curve but it’s not a lot different.

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Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

At events, when people are out there giving it a go, we have to make sure they’re safe and that they enjoy it so they come back next time. To do that, you have to be happy so they see that positive side of things. If you’re on a stop-go and you’re all grumpy, that’s not good for them. It’s amazing the number of athletes who thank you, even when they’re competing. That’s rewarding.

Most of the time, if you’re standing on the side of the road holding a stop-go sign, you get abused daily. I take the view that everyone’s got their own opinions, everyone’s allowed their say. Generally my answer is, ‘thank you for your comments and enjoy your day’. It’s a thankless task at times but you have to make the most of it.

I had a bit of aggro the other day with a guy who got angry because we wouldn’t let him drive into a carpark during an event. The carpark was full, there was nowhere for him to go, but he insisted on driving into it anyway. You get those types of people and you just have to let it go. You learn from experiences and think, ‘what the hell? Why am I grumpy and upset about that?’ For a number of years I’ve tried to instil into my staff and into other people that there’s no point getting all upset about what you can’t control.

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Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

My three kids call me Grumpy. They have all left home but we have a pretty strong family unit and every Monday night we take it in turns to host a family dinner. We have quite frank discussions at times, but we have a very strong bond and it’s great that we all want to be together. Some of the laughs we have as a family are incredible. I get a lot of joy out of that.

As told to Lucy Corry.

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