7 August 2023

With a smile: Justine still finds joy in role after almost 20 years at local club

| Claire Sams
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Justine Lumley has been at the Wagga RSL for nearly 20 years – and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

From working in a kitchen to greeting customers at the door, the hospitality industry is where Justine Lumley wants to be.

She’s now the customer service supervisor at Wagga RSL, but Justine’s early life was spent working as a chef in Sydney.

“I originally moved down here with my partner because he was from Wagga Wagga, and his father was ill.

“That visit was temporary; I did go back to Sydney for a while and then came back here to work,” Ms Lumley said.

“I was working as a chef elsewhere in Wagga, and I worked weekends as a waitress at the RSL before eventually moving into my current position after time in the catering department.”

She has now lived and worked in Wagga for almost two decades.

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Ms Lumley is one of the front-of-house workers who interact with the customers at the Wagga RSL.

“Generally, we just want to make it a nice experience for the customer to come into our lovely club,” she said.

“My role is slightly different to most other door staff, as I have a little bit of administrative work to manage and updating databases to do as well.”

Ms Lumley said working outside of the kitchen gave her a chance to talk to the customers.

“This job is all about social connections, social interactions, developing relationships with customers.

“We can see the same people often, and when you develop those relationships with your customers, a venue becomes a nice place for someone to come,” she said.

“They feel safe and cared about, since you can have a more meaningful interaction.”

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Being able to have a chat with customers is something that Ms Lumley enjoys – and it has its benefits.

“They bring chocolates and every Christmas you get presents,” she said.

“They know I used to cook, so they bring me parsley, lemons and oranges and other fresh produce from their gardens.”

The community connection was something that set Wagga apart from the big city, she said.

“What drew me to Wagga was the lifestyle – there’s no traffic jams and life is just much slower and more enjoyable.

“Rather than live the fast life in Sydney, I chose a slower lifestyle when I was about 35 and I’ve never regretted it.”

And for fans of Ms Lumley’s greetings, know she plans to remain in her position.

“I don’t plan to change employment for the rest of my working life – which hopefully is not too long.

“I’ve never stayed in a job this long, but I really enjoy it,” she said.

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