There he was, pushing the child on a swing with one hand, while simultaneously scrolling through his emails on his BlackBerry with the other - the very image of today's conflicted father trying, but failing, to juggle life with work. Yet, far from being sheepish about it, he was perversely proud.
''Always on, mate, always on,'' he said as a self-satisfied grin spread across his handsome face, and his chest puffed out a fraction more.
It was Christmas Eve - a Saturday - and he was answering the call of his masters as they raced to wrap business up before Christmas.
It's an all too familiar scene for many Australians, a sign that we are addicted to work and have yet to reach the point where we are willing to kick the habit.
How many of you are really going to switch off that mobile phone, ignore the emails or put away that laptop for the holiday period? Probably not that many, which is why a German car maker, Volkswagen, has gone to the unusual lengths of imposing its own communications blackout over Christmas and New Year, deactivating emails to staff BlackBerry devices.
Another German company, Deutsche Telekom, has introduced a policy whereby workers don't answer after-hours calls and management promises not to make them. And yet another German company - there's a pattern emerging here, isn't there? - Henkel, is imposing a BlackBerry-free week for its board between Christmas and New Year. Its chief executive, Kasper Rorsted, deserves a medal for honesty after reportedly telling a newspaper last month: ''I don't want to have to read emails just because someone is bored somewhere and wants to show he's busy.''
Somehow I can't imagine that happening here, where we wear the ''always on'' culture as a badge of honour. Increasingly, I am hearing people not moan but boast about their busy day, which all too often starts with a breakfast meeting at 7.30 and doesn't finish until perhaps 12 or so hours later in sending the last emails of the day.
Each year we are told we work among the longest hours in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the club of developed nations. It is another manifestation of our warped obsession to be seen on the global stage as ''punching above our weight''.
At the same time, social commentators and futurists proclaim we yearn for a better work-life balance and a return to greater ''simplicity'' - presumably this is a world in which we would have to leave behind our growing arsenal of personal and mobile devices.
Yes, we do work a long working week - an average of 43 hours, which is five hours more than the legal maximum - but it falls to the South Koreans, Mexicans and the Chileans to best us in hours put in at the coalface. But, sadly for the myth makers, that figure of 43 hours has remained steady over a decade, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. During the same period, productivity in Australia fell 0.2 per cent annually.
The Germans must be doing something right; they work fewer hours than us but are 12 per cent more productive and, yet, we constantly talk of ourselves as the ''clever country''. There is nothing intelligent about working harder to produce less.
A recent study of 2500 employees by Ernst&Young found almost a fifth of our day was wasted as we dealt with red tape, wrote reports no one would read, and fielded calls from dissatisfied customers who were either complaining about the poor product or service or had been shunted from person to person in buck passing.
And, irony of ironies, the study's author, Neil Plumridge, found employees in one telecom company routinely wasted an hour each day seeking ''technical support''. If that isn't divine retribution, then I don't know what is.
So much for the promise of greater productivity which technology was supposed to deliver. Suckered? In an age when we struggle to keep work and home life distinct, whoever coined the term ''personal device'' had a twisted sense of humour. We continue to be sold much the same message. Social media marketing makes a virtue of connectedness; switch off at your peril.
The time to resist is now. Seize the moment, grab the phone and switch it off. Switch on the out-of-office function so that, if tomorrow Simon or Cheryl want to know ''your thoughts re planning for 2012, going forward'', they will receive the following message: ''I am not here. I am playing on the swings. With both hands.''