Wikipedia defines ‘Jobsworth’ as “a person who uses their job description in a deliberately uncooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner”.
Now no matter what the profession, people have a job to do and that I can totally understand. It’s just when they take things just a little too seriously that it annoys me, it is even worse when their attitude doesn’t exactly help.
One example that comes to mind involves a security guard at my local airport. Now Post 9/11 I can appreciate that airport security is taken very seriously (makes me think what was the remit before this infamous date) however there are I believe ways to ensure good customer relations even in this potential volatile area of the airport.
I am of course talking about the scanning areas where both your hand luggage and you are now invariably subject to a full massage whether you like it or not.
The atmosphere can be generally tense to start with…in a small airport like East Midlands you are herded literally like cattle in a slaughterhouse through various gates and fenced enclosures until you reach the x-ray machines.
It is here where I was approached by a very surly guard who definitely suffered from Napoleon Syndrome (there obviously wasn’t any height restriction in Group 4’s recruitment policy – I am not heightist by the way just I would have assumed a security guard would be more intimidating if ever he needed to be if he was more than 4′ 2″).
He demanded without explanation that I immediately open my flight bag (something I would have had to do 30 seconds later at the x-ray machine anyway so his point was sort of lost on me) and then barked accusatoraly in a very loud voice (for someone so small) “why have you got two laptops, normal people only carry one, what are you doing with two, why, Why , WHY ?” – (Note as I did, the why’s getting ever more progressively louder and more aggressive).
Now I could have just explained that I had one which I used purely for work and one (which was actually a netbook) that I used in airport lounges and the like as it is smaller, lighter, quicker to boot up and thus much more convenient as it was just used for IM, email and surfing the web.
However…this guy had a bad attitude, I had been prodded along the cattle walk and was seriously in danger of missing my flight as they hadn’t got enough staff to cope with the influx of passengers. Then you can add to the fact it was very early morning and I never take kindly to what amounts to unsolicited interrogation.
So instead I replied…
“Why have you got two pens in your pocket?” (he had two pens, a red one and a blue one, schoolboy like, sticking out of the front pocket on his jumper) but before he could even start to formulate a reply I added ” I thought that you had to have opposable thumbs to be able to use tools correctly”.
He looked at me quizically. The fact I had just labelled him un-human with the dexterity ability of a lettuce had been lost on him completely.
Not so the young lady in the queue behind me who had fallen on the floor in hysterics – I didn’t realise until then that anyone could go that particular shade of purple and still remain conscious. She was laughing so much her tears had tears.
To be fair he picked up on her reaction..his brain must have comprehended I had insulted him but he couldn’t quite work out how.
So he did the only thing possible given the circumstances…embarrassed he ushered me quickly to the waiting x-ray scanner and now concentrated on the young lady still visibly physically shaking with laughter.
Had he asked the question more politely, had he not been a Jobsworth he would have got a reasoned explanation.But the young lady wouldn’t have had half as much enjoyment that cold wet Monday morning.
Thanks for being a Jobsworth….whilst not mine you obviously made her day.