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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Then and Now

Hi folks,

I haven't posted in a while on here but I was reading my nephew's Thomas The Tank Engine storybook earlier and felt compelled to offer Uncle Ken a foolproof way of dealing with delays and cancellations on the tube.

The story I came across goes like this:

One morning, The Fat Controller was hard at work when The Stationmaster appeared at his desk. "I'm sorry to bother you, Sir," he said, "but one of our passengers is demanding to speak to you!"

A red-faced man greeted The Fat Controller outside his office. "I want to make a complaint," he said angirly. "This morning's train was late. What are you going to do about it?" The Fat Controller apologised, "I will look into the matter right away, Sir."

"We always try to provide a Really Useful service for our passengers. I will make sure this doesn't happen again!" he added. The Fat Controller went to The Yard to speak with the engines. "Lateness is something I will not put up with!" he said.

The Fat Controller

In the afternoon, The Fat Controller made up new timetables that would make the engines run on time. "There will be no excuses for lateness in the future!" he thought.

At 6 o'clock, The Fat Controller had finished his work. "I've solved today's problem," he said. "I think I deserve a Really Long Rest!" So he finished his tea, picked up his hat and headed off home in his blue car.

The End

Forward wind 50 or so years and the story would have gone something like this:

One morning, The Jobsworth Station Manager was telling a staff member off for being one minute late for work when when a Station Assistant appeared at his desk. "I'm sorry to bother you, Sir," he said, "but seven hundred of our passengers are demanding to speak to you!"

Seven hundred red-faced commuters greeted The Jobsworth Station Manager outside his office. "We want to make a complaint," they said angirly. "Every morning our train is late. In fact, come to think of, EVERY train is late ALL day and is usually overcrowded and crawls very slowly to its destination. What are you going to do about it?"

The Jobsworth Station Manager sighed and said, "I'm sorry Sir, you'll have to apply to our Refunds and Complaints department who will be happy to furnish you with form FCUK1 which, upon completion, should be sent to the processing office in Durham. From there, it should take approximately 6 to 8 weeks for your claim to be verified, by which time I and my fellow LU employees will have ceased to care owing to our extremely anal nature and our propensity to go on strike at any given moment if we feel we are being unduly harrassed by members of the travelling public, thus making us overly stressed out and unable to complete our duties to the satisfaction of all concerned."

"We always try to provide a Really Useful service for our passengers but due to chronic underfunding of the network in the last 100 years, we cannot guarantee that the service will run on time or that your train will be less than 10 years old and not have enough room to swing a cat in. I can't promise this won't happen again - in all honesty it will happen again this evening and then tomorrow morning and so on and so forth until a train derails, whereupon we will suddenly take an interest in safety and pretend to be doing something about it for a few weeks to allay the public's fears. This will result in line closures and replacement bus services - your London Underground tickets will be valid on local bus routes." he added.

The Jobsworth Station Manager

In the afternoon, The Jobsworth Station Manager made up new rules for the staff such as "no smiling", "no speaking English" and "no Sir, you can't take your bicycle on the tube" that would make everyone's life as needlessly difficult as possible, in order to give himself a sense of his own importance. "There will be no excuses for anyone to have fun whilst travelling on the Underground in the future!" he thought.

At 5 o'clock (and not one second later), The Jobsworth Station Manager had finished his work. "I've solved none of today's problems by complicating the matter further," he said. "I think I deserve a Really Big Payrise!" So he finished his tea, picked up his hat and headed off home in his blue car, before being stopped by the police for driving in a bus lane and not having paid his congestion charge for the last 6 weeks.

The End.


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