My old chum Carruthers came to stay last week, he works for a major airline & has seen plenty of the world in the last forty years, as indeed I have myself. We somehow got on to the subject of corporate & institutional stupidity, we yarned most of the afternoon. Examples seem limitless.
In no order or preference the first was his story of the bacon sandwich. Pretty much a ubiquitous standard British breakfast or snack. Yet on his long motorway journey to get to us in the East Riding of Yorkshire he stopped at a service station for this icon of English cuisine. Only a bacon baguette was on offer. Two slices of bacon in a big concrete bun, not what he wanted, he asked the waiter if he could just have the bacon in two slices of soft white bread. In point of fact the traditional bacon sandwich. This simply was not an option. It was the baguette or nothing, beyond the wit of anyone to pop bacon into two slices of bread. He gave up the struggle & hunger drove him into compliance with the android on the counter & the chap on the till relieved him of £5.50. I assume the fellow wore a mask & striped Jersey.
We all meet this every day don’t we? We try to book on line because nobody employs people these days. The State has made them too expensive, pensions, minimum wages, holidays, hours worked restrictions, maternity pay, bereavement assistance, unsackability, trans lavatories , employers NI, (we get the point Ed.) We labour through just at the end the computer insists we do not know our own D.O.B, password, email address, credit card number, the transaction collapses. If only we could talk to a human being. Ah! There is a help line! Press 1 if you want X, 2 if you want Y, 3 if you want by this time the Samaritans. You eventually get a real person, the call is costing 7p per minute by the way. At last, but the call centre is in Glasgow, not a word can you comprehend, it sounds like Morse Code in grunts instead of beeps. Easier not to book whatever it is & stay at home.
Carruthers tells me his airline spent a fortune on a new trolley for food & beverages in first class, it looked magnificent on the drawing board, even better in reality, but took eight minutes per passenger by which time he or she in row five had lost the will to live never mind eat. It was withdrawn, nobody got sacked, just another big organisation cock up. Incidentally Carruthers tells me the CEO of the airline was asked by premium class super gold card holder why gluten free meals were not on offer in first class, to be met with a counter question ‘what’s gluten?’. In mitigation the CEO is Australian. I travelled to Dubai recently business class, such was the configuration of the seating plan, economy passengers disembarked first. Why do they let service industries be run by accountants?
Bought a toothbrush recently? I know an old east end safe cracker who can’t get it out of the packing. Tomato ketchup, HP sauce, tartar sauce, mustard in a sachet? Why not just smear your tie with it before you go out?
Milk in your tea? UHT! Wouldn’t give it to a tramp in a doorway.
Puncture on the road? The jack is only in the boot for show, it doesn’t lift the car. You have to ‘phone the RAC. British Standard Time? Here we are again, change the clock on the dashboard? Quicker to take it back to the main dealer unless you are a computer geek. Buy a car ‘crammed with the latest technology’? Just means in three years your car will be crammed with reasons to fail its MOT.
Time for the big monthly shop? They’ve changed everything around again. Tea? Marmalade? Cornflakes? Tissues? The only way to handle it, go early Monday find a kind lady staff member to take you around, she doesn’t know where anything is either but it gives you company & might stop you slashing your wrists, not that you can find the razors.
Council digging up the road? Or water, electricity or gas company? Is time ever made the essence of the contract? Or do the utility companies ever coordinate? The same bit of road impassable for months on end. God! One year later they dig it up again.
New development in your town? One thousand new houses. General practitioners? Car parking? School places? Police? 0% increase. Google up Cambridge, Pickering, Pocklington, Howden or any other town in your vicinity, no effort at all to supply an infrastructure.
You will have loads of your own examples. Do CEOs ever buy their own products or use their own services? Of course the last thing a politician will do is use the NHS, State education system or public transport. Wonderful for the likes of us but not for them, ‘security reasons old boy’.
Oh! Those round laces? Well they don’t stay done up do they? You have to double bow. Excuse me while I
The Goodnight Vienna Audio file