There are a number of things in life that irritate me intensely.  The inability of the England football team to take penalties, deafening television adverts and London Underground all blight my life to a degree but there is one thing that I simply cannot abide under any circumstances: the Great British Jobsworth.
  • I guess that other countries have the equivalent.  I do not know the Dutch or Japanese phraseology for “It’s more than my job’s worth” but I assume that the notion is not confined to these shores.  I can imagine that the Germans and the Swiss have one or two rigidly-minded officials who adhere to the rules (as interpreted by them) without even a passing consideration of what common sense might tell them.  Regrettably there are some people in this country who would leave even the most officious teutonic jobsworth in the shade.
  • The most striking feature of a jobsworth’s behaviour is their capacity to swear blind allegiance to a set of principles that they do not understand but which they will willingly misinterpret – often with a misguided sense of political correctness.  Let me give you a good example.  Last week I wrote to a mobile phone company on behalf of a client.  I am a solicitor and I wrote on my firm’s headed-notepaper so you might imagine that this would have produced a sensible response.  The reply I received was that the company could not reply to me because of “Data Protection”.  This was of course utter nonsense – I was duly authorised to write the letter and why on earth would a solicitor be doing otherwise?  Notwithstanding my normal rule which is to avoid sarcasm, I have written back asking the person to specify which Section of the Data Protection Act 1998 (as amended) I may have transgressed.  ”Data Protection” like “Health and Safety” have become the haven of imbeciles who refer to these terms with gay abandon – largely in order to make their lives easier and ours more complicated.
  • Effective complaining is about breaking down barriers and not being palmed off with the hot air and hogwash that all of us encounter far too often.  Do not tolerate clap-trap of this kind.  The best way to do this is to go over the heads of the jobsworth minions – the organ grinders rather than the monkeys usually display far more genuine concern than those who hide behind fictitious rule-books and regulations.  I would love to think that the next government will pass a law that reintroduces the death penalty for jobsworths.  Sadly I fear that we live in a country where the very opposite will happen.