Amazing AMCers: Meet Mark Hall

Mark became my bud on Facebook. It is really weird but I can’t remember how…just feels like he has always been there, commenting on my posts, wishing me Happy Birthday even when it’s not… His humor makes me laugh. I plan for my AMC bestie in New Zealand and Mark to marry. They are just taking their sweet time. *sigh*
Mark lives in Australia…some place called Caloundra, Queensland and when I gave it a Google, it was like a freakin’ postcard.  Rough life!

Anyway, he’s fantastic, a fellow AMCer, uses funny words and I wanted to share his story with you. He was a good sport with my 500 questions and then his email grew dusty in my inbox as I became consumed with life on my side of the globe.

So I am blowing off the fuzz bunnies and begging for his forgiveness. Here is Mark Hall and all of his awesomeness!

Meet Mark…

On the 27th October 1977, in a small town name Traralgon, in Country Victoria, I was born  The doctors were very concerned and told Mum and Dad to brace for the worse, They said I would be lucky to live a week.  How the doctors got it so wrong.

I was rushed to Melbourne (about 360 km’s West of Traralgon), the next day.  I underwent a few operations to straighten my legs and put my hips back in place.  Being so young the doctors weren’t really sure how things were going to pan out for me, whether I’d be a wheelchair, need crutches or be able to walk.  But they weren’t going to do anything until I was 5.

But me, being a stubborn boy, at age 2, I was up and trying to walk.  As my feet were in a strange position, I kept falling over, so the doctors decided (with Mum and Dad having a heated discussion with the doctors) to operate and fix my feet, so I could walk without falling down.  Over the next few years, I was in and out of hospital, with feet, hips and knee surgeries to try and get everything in a way that would help me in the future.

When I was 3, my little sister was born.  And I think this was difficult on Mum and Dad to juggle me, and my sister, but somehow they managed to pull it off.

School Years…

When it was time to start school, I lived about 100m from school.  My Grade Prep teacher was not happy that she had to deal with a person with a disability.  After a lot of arguments, and I even had to have an IQ test, the teacher was removed from the school.  That was the only person in my childhood that, I recall, being discriminatory towards me.

However, I did have a few bullies at school, who picked on me at school for being different, but I did learn to ignore them and had a great group of friends. However, I was very good academically,  I used to get in trouble from the teacher, as I found the work a little too easy and then disrupted the class.  Mum soon put a stop to that, by asking the teacher to increase the difficulty of my work.  That did the trick.

At the age of 11, our family moved up to Woodford Queensland (About 70 km NW of Brisbane).  Mainly for the weather, as I used to struggle in winter with the cold.  I really don’t know how you guys who get snow every year do it.  I just don’t like being cold. However, I found the people up here a lot more accommodating about me and I was accepted more, which was fantastic for me.  Also being at a primary school with a total of 60 children helps 😉

Dad played golf every Saturday with a few mates, and I used to tag along and play a few holes.  Dad had right handed clubs so I use to use those. However, I always putted left handed.  So not long after that, I got my own left handed set (which is a bit funny, as I write right handed).  The local golf club had a junior competition every Saturday morning, which I played every week and thoroughly enjoyed.  I try and play every Saturday still, but I can’t walk the course anymore, so I have to use a buggy to drive around.  I am currently playing off 16, which is ok, but definitely no Tiger Woods, but not just a hacker.

Moving on too high school, was not much different.  I did reasonably well at school, mainly doing Maths and Computer based subjects.  I tried Woodwork for 2 years and was completely hopeless.  I think the fact that my right leg is long than my left, when I looked at things to square up, it was crooked. LOL  I made some new friends which I still have today, we pretty much try and catch up at least once a year, for a beer and a chat, which is great…

Years 11 and 12, I had to change schools again, and once again, I mainly did Maths and Computers, looking forward to going to Uni.  I planned on studying law.  However after the end of Year 12, I didn’t get the OP Score I needed to do law, so my second choice was Accounting. In the long run, was a blessing in disguise.

College and Life Changes…

So the next 3½  years I spent at QUT Gardens Point Campus in Brisbane.  ½ drive, an hour train drive and 20 min walk, each way.  They were long days.  Apart form that, I really enjoyed it.   A lot of work, but also meeting a lot of pretty nice people.

On the eve of my exams for my final semester and my sisters final year at high school, Dad passed away at the age of 41.  It’s amazing, he seemed fit and healthy, but apparently had a minor heart issue and it gave out.  This is one of the toughest times in my life.  As it was so unexpected, Mum, Vicky and I were just at a loss on what to do.  It was a struggle at the time, and with support from family, friends and neighbours we managed to get through that part (Even though that was 15 years ago, I still miss him).  .

Somehow, I managed to pass my exams, even though I was in no frame of mind to do them (if I didn’t sit them, I would have had to redo the semester again, which I really didn’t want to do), and graduate my Bachelor of Business (Accounting major)..

The Job Hunt…

My GPA wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t that high as well.  I applied for that many jobs after Uni, from everything from a Graduate Accountant to Receptionist, just so I could get work.  I still lived at home with Mum and Vicky at this time, as I had no income and no government support (Find this hilarious, Centrelink said, Yes you do have a disability, however because you have a Uni degree, you are not entitled to disability pension and must go on unemployment benefits, good old bureaucrats).

After 12 months of searching, I was starting to get down.  An interview I had with a large accounting firm was a real eye opener.  I almost fell off the chair when the idiot said “You should just apply for government jobs, because you will never work in the public sector, because the way you are” I was in that much shock, I just walked out on the interview.   I didn’t let this get me down.

Good People Exist…

One night, Mum was ten-pin bowling, and her team mate had just been to see her accountant, and she said he was looking for someone.  So I rang him the next day and got an interview with him.  After a discussion, he said he was looking for someone with experience.  The usual answer I got at every job interview.  2 weeks later, Peter rang me and said that he isn’t having much luck finding anyone and would I like to start the next week.  That was 14 years ago.  And Peter retired last year and left me, Louise (the other accountant) and Simon (Admin manager), the business.

LISTEN UP YOUNGSTERS!

For the first couple of years I lived with Mum, and here is a tip to the younger kiddies, if you stay with your parents long enough, they move out and you have the house all to yourself. LOL

Moving On…

About 3 years after Dad passed, Mum met a new man.  At the time it was a bit difficult to adjust to, but once I got to know him, we have become great friends, and the most important thing is that he makes Mum happy.  In 2009 Mum and Dave got married, and to all the romantics, in Rome.  What was even a bigger shock was no one in the family knew about it until after the fact.  So a very big surprise.

My sister made me very proud (and if you knew here at the time it would have been a really big shock), she joined the army. However this stressed Mum out to no end.  I was also, especially in 2010 when she was deployed to Afghanistan for 9 months. For what our soldiers go through, they are all underpaid and under appreciated.  For what she could tell me she saw over there, It was quite remarkable and horrifying at the same time.  But she is home safe and sound.  She is still in the army, but is based not far from home.

It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see…
-Henry David Thoreau 

I find it amazing how something bad turns out to be a good thing in the long run.  In December 2008, I went for a holiday to Prague (beautiful city).  Also, you must remember, it is summer in Australia in December, so quite warm.  The day I left it was 37, when I landed in Prague, after a 27 hour flight, it was 2 degrees.  So you can imagine my shock when I got off the plane.

After about 4 days of a great holiday, I caught the flu. Even though I still got out and about, it was a bit disappointing.  When I eventually arrived home, I went to the my GP and he said I had Bronchitis.   But I should go and see a Lung Specialist.  After 3 months I got into see him, and he said I had actually caught Pneumonia.  But he was more concerned about my back.  Because my right leg is longer than my left, and I walk more with my hips than knees, my back has become severely crooked, which was putting a lot of pressure on my lungs.  He recommended I see an Orthopedic Surgeon and see what could be done about straightening it.

It did take awhile to get in and see the Surgeon, but eventually I did.  He said that in time I will need to have rods put in my back to stop it twisting, otherwise I will lose even more lung capacity.  I decided that it should be done and it was booked for December 2010.  Two operations 8 hour operations later, I had 19 screws and 2 titanium rods in my spine.  The worst part of the surgery was the rehab.  I wasn’t able to play golf for 9 months.  The surgeon later told me that my back was worse than he thought, and if it wasn’t done then, I may not be around in another 5 years, which really scared the crap out of me, but very grateful.  The operation did the trick, and it actually increased my lung capacity by 20% which was a big surprise to both the lung specialist and back surgeon.

I am so glad I went on that trip to Europe and did get sick otherwise, I’d be none the wiser and probably be in a fair bit of trouble now.

Once the rehab was competed and I was back up on my feet, I did what everyone who has a bad experience does and live life to the fullest.  August 2011, my cousin was getting married in Scotland, so what a great excuse to go and see the birth place of golf.  So golf clubs in tow, and Mum, Dave and sis we went to the wedding.  I got to do a few things I thought I’d never get to do.  Play golf in Scotland (unfortunately not St Andrews, but I did get to see it) and have a Guinness in the Guinness factory in Dublin.

After I got back, I was deciding where to go next and my cousins were heading to Bali in December and asked if I wanted to go.  So I thought why not.  Since that first trip to Bali, I have been twice more, and just love the place.  Balinese people are very friendly and also the exchange rate is quite good.  An hour back massage for $6/hour, surely can’t beat that.

Last April, I did something I thought I’d wait until I met someone and was married to do, but I’ve been very unlucky in that area, so the time was right for me to buy a house.  I bought a 3 bedroom house on the Sunshine Coast.  So I’ve been a bit boring in the past 12 months, just watching the pennies, as most people are.

But life is great…

So even though I have AMC, so far I have been able to do whatever I want to do.  Mind you there are some things, I know I will never be able to do (bungee jumping is one). But I’ve found nothing has ever held me back and if anyone out there says you can’t do it.  Trust yourself, and give it a go.

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3 thoughts on “Amazing AMCers: Meet Mark Hall

  1. Mark has been doing my Tax returns for years. I have never stuck to an accountant for so long. Mark is an excellent communicator and always has me leave the place smiling. He always answers questions with confidence which demonstrates an underlying expertise in his field. To top it all off he follows the same football team I do. I enjoyed reading about your life Mark. I always thought you would have had it tough. Your tenacity and grit is an inspiration to all.John J

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