GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (V)

An Honest Day’s Work

I had been dreading the day since it was mooted last year at a Christmas party. At the time I didn’t want to believe it, and chose instead to think of it as the rather disappointing Vasse Felix Heytesbury chardonnay talking, but it turned out that it was indeed true. Teddy, the chairman of our little board, said it and he meant it: board members would all be required to spend a whole day with some employees from the company. It was supposed to be good for PR – show everyone that the board cares – and it was also intended to be “a learning experience” – for board members to experience company life lower down the food chain.

The idea sounded dreadful. I thanked God that none of the other boards I serve are chaired by such fertile and imaginative minds. I said to Teddy that this whole exercise missed the point: that the reason why some people sit in the boardroom and some do not is because some people belong there, they make the best decisions, and are best suited to do what’s in the company’s best interests[1], and that some people would make a pig’s ear of the thing and, thankfully, they are not on the board, and for that we should all be glad. The latter group are better suited to dealing with customers and filing paperwork and that sort of thing. I told Teddy, but he wouldn’t listen. (He was dressed as Santa at the time and may not have been completely paying attention to me.)

And so I found myself wearing an apron with “Gordy” on my nametag. The apron was red and my uniform shirt was green and the two clashed, but everyone else in the nursery was wearing the same. At wifey’s suggestion I wore the Rockports, which seemed a good idea if I had to stand for long periods, and it also wouldn’t be a problem if I spilled paint on them or something. I wasn’t about to risk a pair of Italian loafers on an adventure like Work Fun Dialogue Day.

In the end I needn’t have worried. The young people I worked with proved to be lively companions. They told me about customer service, and the various ways that complex queries or complaints can be passed on to supervisors. I got coffees for the three guys in my team – it was the only way I could feel useful – and they assured me that they usually did have five or six coffee breaks a day. They all seemed to smoke and they showed me all the places where this could be safely done, out of sight from bosses and the public. I particularly bonded with the only female member of the team, a young lady named Emika. She showed me her piercings and where her children’s names were tattooed onto her arm. She also said there were tattoos she couldn’t show me, not there behind the timber stacks anyway, and as a gentleman I took her word for it.


[1] Going forward.

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Published in: on February 27, 2012 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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