I’m more than aware that some of the people I know think I’m a bit odd – because I question everything, sometimes quite randomly. I don’t know why this is and can’t explain why I find the world so endlessly confusing and mad any more than I can explain people who don’t.
For example: yesterday I had a meeting in London, for which my company paid for my travel and hotel the night before. Now I don’t want you to go thinking that I live the jet-set life, forever yachting across the Seychelles to discuss spreadsheets because I don’t – in five years with my current company I’ve been to London 3 times and Birmingham 3. About as romantic and exciting a lifestyle as painting the Seventh Bridge ocean grey, only to find that the specifications said military grey.
Anyway – on the way home I decided to catch an early train – thus giving myself a minor chance of finding a seat. For those of you who have not experienced British Rail the experience is of 3-4 hugely over-crowded second class carriages, with 5-6 totally empty first class ones. How deliberately infuriating and over-charging your passengers in this manner to the point where they fly, drive, take a coach or – in extreme cases – camel to their destination makes financial sense for the company is beyond me, but that’s another story.
As catching an early train meant running to the station I didn’t have time to stop and buy something at the station so, as the last time that I bought British Rail tea was in the 1980s when the cup was 100% guaranteed to burn the skin from your fingers and the milk carton was designed with a small explosive device set to send the contents over your trousers, I decided to try the on-board shop.
And, as chatted to the young lady with the hideously over-the-top eyeliner who was serving me (she looked like she’d applied it on the train and been jolted at each try), I found myself pondering an awkward question: How did she get home?
I mean – for those of us working in an office, shop, factory or other fixed location we presumably work somewhere we can commute to – but when your office is currently on the move and you’re not the driver what do you do?
Say for example that you live in Milton Keynes (although, as anyone whose ever been there will know, the phrase “Live” in Milton Keynes is not entirely possible or even plausible) and your employer has you scheduled on the London-Edinburgh train on a 9am-5:30pm shift. If the last train of your shift leaves London at 3pm you can’t just get off at Milton Keynes and go home early – so presumably you get stranded in Scotland with another 2 hour journey to go home. And what if it’s the last train of the day – are you expected to find accommodation? Or if your replacement doesn’t show up? The world needs to know these things.
It just doesn’t make logistical sense for the employer to plan your schedule so you always finish near home – that would be a shift-planners nightmare.
Perhaps British Rail have a secret teleportation device to send their staff home at the end of the day?
And this is nothing in comparison to the problem faced by flight attendants…