GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (IV)

The Weekend Papers

One of the great pleasures is to wallow in the weekend papers, spread out on the table, with a pot of Russian Caravan and the deep white Donna Hay mugs the grand children gave us a couple of Christmases ago. We divide up the papers – both of them – into supplements and sections and arrange them so there is easy access to all the parts you might want to read. Nothing is hidden – they do like to hide the parts you want, don’t they – and everything is at your fingertips. Typically wifey (I must stop calling her that, it’s becoming a habit) will do crosswords and other puzzles, while I will immerse myself in the editorials and opinion pieces before moving on to finance and maybe gardening if there’s time at the end.

On this occasion we were at the beach house. We always go up there in late February, for a final burst of summer before we shut the place up for the cooler months. And the weekend papers at the beach house is more of an all day ritual – I sometimes read both of them from cover to cover, stretched out on the lounge, socks up on a cushion, listening to the Pacific Ocean roaring in the background.

I found myself reading the employment section, something I haven’t needed to do for decades, and in particular taking an interest in the articles which are included therein. I hesitate to use the word article, in fact. They are collections of sentences broadly concerning the same theme, with a quote by some ‘expert’, usually from a university (Associate Professor of Saying Obvious Things from the faculty of Human Interaction Dynamics), and the quote will read something like: “94% of employers said that wearing shoes made a better interview impression than not wearing them”. The wonder is that those responsible put their names to these pieces of writing, when a pseudonym might have seemed better way to go. Advice is the cornerstone of all of these articles, and hints and tips are offered, in addition to general counsel purporting to encourage job seekers and employees who would frankly rather be doing another job for a different company.

There was advice about seeking a wage increase – referred to more than once as a “raise” – and it got me thinking. When I was at the embassy in the 1970s strict economies, including wage freezes, were imposed after the first oil shock. The Ambassador was particularly keen to limit the latitude of the Social Committee – “Flopper” MacKenzie-Smyth and myself – fearing that we might cause embarrassment at an official engagement or something of the sort. And so we reminded the Ambassador about the amateur photography classes run by the committee, and told him that the Emir’s wife looked very photogenic sharing a drink with him at a little bar at the beachfront. We know there’s a wage freeze on, we said. But we would very much appreciate it if the entertainment budget for the Social Committee was given a special grant in the next round of funding.

That’s what unappreciated employees should do: demand a boost to their entertainment expenses.

Published in: on February 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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