Agency Workers, bloody trams, Dinner-lady, Dream, Edinburgh, Edinburgh Trams, Employee of the Month, Humor, Leith, Leith Walk, Lothian Buses, Minimum Wage, Opinion, Prince Charles, Satire, Trams, work
I had a horrible dream in which I attended the opening of Edinburgh’s new tram system. Prince Charles turned up to declare the tram lines open, but when the roadworks were finally cleared away, it was revealed that the trams were, in fact, the sort of stationary mobile offices which one finds on building sites, and that it was Leith Walk itself which had been turned into a gigantic conveyer belt, rather like the moving walkways which carry people through airport terminals.
Everybody wanted to get to work, and so they climbed into the mobile offices and sat down on the floors in neat rows, like children in a school assembly. Prince Charles pressed a red button on a remote control to activate the conveyer belt. The offices were slowly carried along the conveyer belt, but when they arrived at the curve in front of the Omni centre, there was a pile up. The second office ploughed into the back of the first one, and then the third office ploughed into the back of the second one, and so on, until hundreds of passengers had been crushed to death, and mangled bodies were spilling out into the street. Prince Charles stood on the pavement of Leith Walk, helplessly shaking his remote control and muttering “blast this confounded thing!”
My alarm clock did not wake me up and I had to run to catch the bus. With the present installation of the city tram lines, the traffic is hopelessly constipated, and the bus probably would have gone faster if I had picked it up and carried it.
By the time that I got to work, I was in a furious mood. Yet stomping into the kitchen, there were suddenly balloons, streamers, applause, people were shaking me by the hand, and I was presented with a cake.
“Biggy, you’re employee of the month!”
“Well done pal! Good one!”
“Employee of the month…” I said suspiciously, “Is this an elected post?”
“Everybody is glad to see your good work rewarded!” the manager laughed.
“Hmm,” I continued solemnly, “But I would be unable to accept this position if it was an appointment. I would have to be elected.”
The manager laughed again, now a little desperately. “Hands up everybody who wants to see Biggy as employee of the month,” she cried to the workforce, throwing up her hands in gesticulation.
“Yes,” I countered. “But to be a valid election, there would have to be more than one candidate…”
“I see what you mean,” a fat dinner lady chipped in. “I mean, I have never been employee of the month – and I have worked here for over thirty eight years – and Biggy is only an agency worker. I mean, I have a contract.”
“We value all our employees…” the manager insisted weakly over the rising clamour.
“Why is the employee of the month never a kitchen porter?”
“The chefs do all the fucking work! I’d like to see this place without the chefs…”
“I have swept and mopped the dining room – by myself – for three days in a row, and then the managers complained that they found a baked potato under one of the chairs. And how dare they! My back aches so bad and the doctor said I should never have to…”
“So how many candidates are there?” I demanded, attempting to officiate.
About forty hands shot up.
“There are so many candidates that we really need a system of proportional representation – where every voter gets multiple votes – in order to make this manageable.”
The manager appealed to me with tears in her eyes. “I spent all of yesterday afternoon making this cake, and writing your name on all the balloons, and trying to get everybody to sign your card…”
“I’ll still have the cake and the balloons and the card, but not the position. You’ll find that organising an election is a lot of fun – you’ll have to make the forms, and count the votes, and then there’s all the excitement of revealing the winner…”
I left the manager to think about this. Meanwhile, the rest of the workforce were in total uproar, and the canteen would probably be in a state of anarchy for weeks.