Lord Preserve Me from GTDs

I have once again been on a grand tour of our Northern regional offices.

While of course I’d rather be at home with my beloved Purple Fred (whom I love very much), these trips can be a pretty good way to earn a living. As well as seeing a new work location, in a place that by definition is going to be nicer than London (simply by not being London), there is a touch of luxury in hotel life. Someone else cooks you your dinner and washes up afterwards and if you’re careful not to blow the expenses allowance they’ll bring you a beer as well. And then the same thing (without the beer) happens at breakfast time as well!

The other downside (as well as being away from PF(WILVM)) is that being public sector and looking to make the most efficient use of public money, we generally have to do these trips by public transport – which invariably brings us into contact with what I call “the Gobby Taxi Driver”.

What makes these people think that just because I’m paying them to drive me somewhere, I want to have a conversation with them? I wouldn’t mind quite so much if it wasn’t always the same conversation:

GTD: “Nice hotel, yeah?”
Me: “Yeah, it’s OK.”

GTD: “How much do they charge there?” (Translation: How much can I screw you for on the taxi fare?”)
Me: “Don’t really know – the company books it centrally and I know they get a huge discount” (Actually I do know – regardless of how nice the hotel is, Government contract rate is sixty quid B&B per person per night)

GTD “What sort of work do you do?”

This is the killer – if I tell them what I really do, I’ll get a rant that’ll last the rest of the journey about how Health and Safety is a waste of time, all common sense, killing the country etc. OK, I’ve heard it all before and it’s water off a duck’s back to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to volunteer to hear it again. And if I tell them who I work for, that brings its own tale of woe.

While I’d really like to tell the guy to mind his own business and concentrate on driving, I do still need him to get me where I’m going without driving round the block 89 times to rack up the bill – or as one driver did to me, taking me to the wrong railway station (and I hadn’t even upset him – he was just daft). So I let my creative juices run – in the past I’ve been:

  1. A fire safety adviser – for some reason this doesn’t attract the same unpleasant response as general Health and Safety
  2. A personal safety trainer – I teach people who have to work in nasty areas how to avoid getting mugged or stabbed
  3. An electrical safety inspector – I don’t use this one any more as I’ve had too many grisly descriptions of people the GTD knows who’ve been electrocuted
  4. An asbestos consultant – sadly nearly everybody knows somebody who’s been affected by asbestos so I never get the mickey taken when I use this one
  5. An accident investigator – GTDs understand that ‘cos most of them have had to give statements to road traffic accident investigators at some time.

The funny thing is that all of these are more or less true, I’ve done all of them at some time in my current job. But listing each one individually seems to be more socially acceptable (to GTDs) than all together!

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