Friday, 19 October 2007


For the second time today I am rendered speechless.

I am sitting on the train finding it difficult to suppress a giggle. Just outside of London, during the ticket check, a young girl behind me who sounded extremely dippy held the guard up for ages, trying to find her ticket. Eventually, the guy gives up and says he'll catch up with her later. There then follow 10 minutes activity where the person sitting next to this girl is forced to stand in the aisle, while this girl turns out bags, pockets, anything you'd care to mention.

Finally, Eureka, a ticket is produced! Train Life returns to the usual dull activity, loud people talking on phones and deaf people using ill-fitting headphones.

Some time later, the guard returns. Triumphantly, he is presented with the elusive ticket. However, in an instant the charged, excited atmosphere returns as the guard comments, "This ticket is from Salisbury to London" (we're travelling in the opposite direction). But the guard hasn't finished. A second comment, "its dated 16th March" delivers the final blow. Clearly moving in now for the kill, the guard says that the girl must pay him, and that she can obtain a refund at the ticket office, should the original ever rise from the depths of her handbag.

But the drama is not quite over. The girl has no money and no cards. Further, due to the train running at peak hour, her student railcard is invalid, and she is not only penniless but indignant. The guard requests her address, which the girl is reluctant to give. Oh, what tension!

The atmosphere is finally cut like a knife when the woman sitting next to the girl (she of infinite patience) offers to pay for the girl's ticket. A true knight in shining armour, although after the excellent performance the girl has given I'm sure if she'd had a whip round the rest of her carriage would have paid for her ticket and probably her supper too!

As if sensing the atmosphere for a small encore, the girl proceeds to alight at the stop before Salisbury. Truly this would have capped a wonderful display, had not some kindly passenger tipped her off.

At a time when I fret about my daughter's future ability to engage in any kind of paid employment (at least, without my committing a minimum of £6k every year for the next 8 years), the knowledge that such dippy people exist is tremendously comforting. If this girl is the competition at the Tesco interview, Alice should walk it!

Impossible, really, to top that. But I'll briefly mention the chuckle I had at the client. All the grief of the last couple of days, surrounding a project I'd worked on which has just gone live and is very, very wobbly, finally came to a head. Since the crisis began I have done my utmost to keep my distance from the fray (too many headless chickens for comfort), rather I have settled back, studied the problem, and this morning worked out what had happened. So not only was I the star of the show, but there was a double whammy.

Several months ago, when this project was merely a design (my design) I got gazumped by one of the client's people who basically instructed that the design be changed. Against my advice, but of course the client is the client and ultimately as a consultant I need to be prepared to just doff my cap and say "Yes, sorr". Which I what I did. Anyway, some more looking into the problem, and this afternoon I discovered that the cause of the current problem was a direct result of that change all that time ago. Of course it would be foolhardy to suggest that the problem could have been foreseen, but I do feel somewhat vindicated.

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