Friday, August 20, 2010

Public service

(First published in the May 2008 edition of Horsley's Over the Wall magazine)

As is usual on weekdays, it's down to Nailsworth bus station first thing, to help see-off the 8:47 to Gloucester.

Despite the fact that I have recently taken to using a pair of regulation fluorescent paddles (of the sort employed at airports), the bus drivers continue to show a lamentable ignorance of elementary marshalling signals. Some of them seem to get quite worked up about it. I really must raise the matter with the bus company. Clearly some specialised training is called for.

Then it was over to the supermarket to check on the shelf-stacking - but here again standards are disappointingly lax. If I've said it once I've said it a hundred times: when it comes to choosing a pot of yoghurt customers prefer the ones with a long sell-by date, so placing these at the back of the shelf is most unhelpful.

I was explaining this to one of the young employees and was in the middle of helping him rearrange the yoghurts into the right order when the manager appeared and got quite unnecessarily upset. I tried explaining to him that it is a wholly understandable mistake, can't have eyes in the back of his head and so on. All the same , this isn't the first time I've had to correct this particular slip-up and it must be embarassing for him to find himself repeatedly reminded of the fact.

Fortunately, at that moment, the situation was saved by the arrival of two police officers - which reminded me that it was some time since I'd had the opportunity to review their performance.

After addressing them briefly, over at the station, I invited them to make any observations of their own. They made a very nice little speech along the lines that while they appreciated my public spiritedness and the lengths I continue to go to ensure that the town runs smoothly, they INSIST that I reduce my informal duties and spare myself further efforts. I can't remember their precise words - but it was something along those lines. All the same, I made it clear that for as long as chaos and inefficiency continue to plague the town they would not find me letting up – at which point they insisted again that, on the contrary, I really MUST stop. Their concern that I shouldn't overtax myself was altogether quite touching I thought.

So generally, despite the usual trivial frustrations - a wholly worthwhile day, not to mention a ride home in a police car with my own driver – an honour that seemed wholly lost on Mrs Wormwood, who called me a silly old man. But then she's always the last one to appreciate my qualities.

1 comment:

  1. Nice. Reminiscent of 'Diary of a Nobody' (no offence intended).