The term nerd is thought of as an insult. But Lachlan at EPIC Ipswich wears the name like a badge “proudly.”
EPIC Ipswich is a place where fantasy meets reality. Magic and monsters lurk around every corner and the roll of a dice can mean life or death.
Maybe this is a little dramatic, but how else can you describe a game store like this? From 10 am to 11 pm Monday to Saturday, people venture from far and wide to play out their dreams, enjoy a meal and milkshake at the café, and stock up on art supplies for their latest creative pursuit.
Here to help on these ‘epic’ adventures is Lachlan, the local Dungeon Master, barista, and resident game wizard.
“I would define myself as a professional nerd, so all my hobbies and interests are encompassed within that bracket,” Lachlan said.
“I play Dungeons and Dragons, a lot of tabletop games, trading card games, and I love popular culture TV shows.
“I also read a lot of science articles, to the point that I can talk about them for hours on end.
“Yep. Full-time nerd.”
Growing up, being a nerd wasn’t something to be proud of. Lachlan recalls back in high school when terms like nerd and geek were insults thrown around during name-calling.
Today, Lachlan wears the badge with pride. He said it is just who he is.
“Everyone is friends in a game store. We all consider ourselves to be nerds and we’re all kind of proud of it.”
Not surprisingly Lachlan’s journey to employment here started with a board game.
“I was playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons with some of my friends, and they mentioned that they had heard there was a new game store opening up in Ipswich over the radio,” he said.
“I phoned up the store and as the only person that tried to follow up with the company, they wanted an interview pretty much straight away and here I am.”
Lachlan soon joined the team at EPIC Ipswich, but it wasn’t long before he had to step away to look after his health.
“We opened in 2020 and I had to step away for a while due to my disabilities,” he said.
“I ended up going to the hospital for a period. For whatever reason, the medication I was on just wasn’t working.
“I have a mix of mental health disorders: borderline personality disorder, major depression, and, whilst I do not consider it to be a disability, I am on the spectrum.”
During his stay in the hospital, Lachlan’s medication was balanced, and he was finally given a formal diagnosis of autism. Like Sauron and his ring of power, Lachlan explained that his autism is an enhancement.
“For example, if I find a topic fascinating, I fixate on it for ages on end,” he said
“And that makes me very good at my job because my passions and hobbies are board games and tabletop games.
“I have a near encyclopedic knowledge on that stuff and it helps when I’m trying to sell things to customers and stuff like that.”
Once Lachlan received this diagnosis, everything just fell into place and his employment journey got even more epic. He didn’t let his time off affect his work at EPIC Ipswich. As soon as he was able, Lachlan started working at the game store again, full time.
However, as Lachlan began to integrate back into the workforce, he soon realised some extra assistance was needed.
“I went on Centrelink for financial support and the employment agency that they partnered me with was EPIC Assist.”
EPIC Assist (EPIC) is a disability employment service that specialises in helping people with mental health conditions, like Lachlan, keep the jobs they love.
“I came in, had my first appointment with Sam, and she was able to help build up my hours and give me more time at EPIC Ipswich for training.”
With the help of EPIC Assist and his supportive employers, Lachlan flourished at work.
“Lachlan is a is a treasure, there’s no doubt about it,” the Manager of EPIC Ipswich, Trevor, said.
“He’s passionate about what he does, and he shows that the customers all the time, even when he’s here off the clock.”
It was important to Trevor that EPIC Ipswich was always there to support Lachlan through his recovery. He’s proud of the inclusive and diverse business he has built, and the wellbeing of his staff and customers comes first.
“Lachlan has had a long journey with us. We were supportive in the sense that we gave him as much time as he needed,” he said.
“When he was in the right mindset again and was moving forward with his life, we told him if you want to rejoin the team, we’d be very happy to create a new role for you.”
Like a fable from the days of old, Lachlan’s story has a happy ending. Just ask him.
“I love what I do.”
“As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
“And I legitimately do not feel like I am at work when I’m at work, which is something very unique and amazing.”
If you, like Lachlan, have a disability, health condition, or mental health condition and are looking for help finding and keeping a job you love, get in touch with EPIC Assist today.