Prove your humanity

Grok Magazine sits down with Rina Delanovski, a hospitality legend on campus, who took a quick break from working at the busy Basement Café to briefly talk to us about her perspectives on working at Curtin and a little about her life outside work.

Photo: Andrew Williams.

To begin, we ask Rina to tell us about her life before working at Curtin.

“Oh, sweetheart, at first, I worked in my family fruit and veggie business, then I got married, and I had three children.  And then they went to school. Then I looked after my mum because she got very sick for about eight years. I had to take care of her all the time and I started getting a bit depressed.”

“Then my friend Mary, that worked at Bookmark for many, many years, she says, you need to come to Curtin.  she got me an interview, I came up here and it was the best thing she could ever done. I’ve never been happier, you know.  It just worked out beautifully.” She beams.

Rina says she absolutely loves interacting with her customers. Photo: Andrew Williams.

Rina currently works three days a week and says the schedule suits her as she lives just a 15-minute walk from campus in Waterford.

“I’m working three days. It gives me two days during the week to do housework and make appointments and leaves me the weekend to spend with the grandkids.”

Wanting to delve a little deeper into Rina’s interests, likes and dislikes, we asked if she usually looks after her Grandkids most weekends.

“Not looking after them! Having fun with them! I’m not looking after them sweetheart, the parents are usually around as well. It’s either at their place or they come to me.”

“I’ve only got four grandchildren and my youngest is two and a half, his name is Liam. Oh, he is a treasure, so looking forward to it!”

What about hobbies?

“No, no, no. Except for gardening if you can call that a hobby. I love being in the garden” she chuckles.

Rina says she arrived in Perth after leaving Italy when she was just four years old, so we asked what’s it been like seeing Perth grow over the years.

“Oh, sweetheart, so many changes, especially in the last ten years, A lot of changes.. even at Curtin these last ten years. Mind you I’ve been here 20 years, right? So, a lot of changes!”

The Basement Café is located near the Engineering Pavilion in the South end of campus. Photo: Andrew Williams.

“I started off at basement then I went to Bookmark, and they needed me at Main Café, and then I got back to basement, but they wouldn’t let me leave after I got back here, I’m not going anywhere else because of my customers!”

Outside of her impressive rapport with her customers, we were interested in what other aspects of the job she appreciated.

“Oh, the staff! I’ve never had anything bad with the staff, each and every one of them that have been here. Nothing.”

“I’ve been so lucky here. I was chosen for the 50th anniversary of the Guild. I was chosen for the Rina Mug, because I awards for customer service, they chose me to represent the guild.”

Rina’s face was blasted on hundreds of commemorative mugs to celebrate the Guild’s 50th anniversary. Photo: Curtin Guild.

As Rina mentions that she will be turning 74 years old in August, we ask her what her future looks like.

“Oh… I don’t know, sweetheart. My husband keeps telling me it’s time to quit. The kids say the same. Especially when COVID started, they didn’t want me to come back. But I’m happy here, I love being here and the basement staff want me here. They aren’t saying it’s time to retire or anything.”

“What else is there? I’m 74 darling, I’m lucky if I make it to 80!”

And with that our chat ended as she rushed off back to work with a smile on her face.